The Preacher Primary

The Republicans’ first primary contest is this week, and it’s not in New Hampshire. It is in Orlando, at the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

With George Bush and Karl Rove out of the way, the gathered congregation is split all over the place about whom they will support for 2008.

The word is that the three big names – Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Frank Dobson (of Focus on the Family) are themselves each leaning towards different Candidates.

Falwell favors McCain. Robertson, who hates Falwell in the worst possible (but totally Christian) way, is likely to back Romney – guess age will do that to your brain. And Dobson, who loves himself above all others (again, in a wholly healthy and Christian fashion), will probably plump for former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee – come on, you gotta love faith!

The problem is that these rattlesnake-charmers are suffering from the same blinkered mind-set that plagued the Democrats before 1994 – they’ve been kingmakers for so long in the corridors of Washington that they don’t pay any attention to election results.

Brothers! Brothers! Hello! Your flock went independent on you in 2006. More than half of Christian voters did not follow your lead. Get with the program. Or the service. Or the missal. Whatever.

My prediction about what the Christian Right will do in 2008 goes something like this:

But first, some advice for the Democrats: don’t get too cozy about the results from 2006. Last year, Christian voters suddenly got all righteous and touchy-feely. They wanted to give George a bloody nose. And they felt bad about Iraq, Katrina, and particularly the struggling families left behind by many working-class military personnel.

The problem with people shifting their political position is that it’s like cheating on your partner – if you do it once, you can do it again.

Frankly, the Democrats face a conundrum with their new majorities on the Hill. First off, they are not naturally liberal Democrat majorities. They are made up of a lot of conservative Democrats, who won in normally Republican areas.

Secondly, those Democrat majorities are pretty much buggered if they do and buggered if they don’t. If they do well, those Christians, who shifted over to the Democrats in 2006, may well think “mission accomplished,” and go back to supporting perhaps a liberal Republican for President in 2008.

On the other hand, if the Democrats screw up, those same Christians may feel they did wrong by the Lord, and vote once again for a socially conservative disciple of Jesus, rejoining their brethren on the solid and rabid Christian Right.

Now, here’s the thing about that psycho Christian Right. I think that they, like their moderate and more left-wing Christian friends, have begun to enjoy the sinful taste of independence.
It is not just that they are sick and tired of Republican Presidents who promise them Armageddon, but then refuse to let rip the fire and brimstone. It’s that they are totally fed up with the plump and aging preachers who keep telling them to support those false idols.

And thus it is, yeah verily, that the likes of Huckabee (a former conservative preacher himself), Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (a favorite son of the religious right), California Representative Duncan Hunter and Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo all think they have a real chance with the Christian Right this time round.

But I have to say this – fellas, get real. Wacko, the Christian Right may be. But stupid, they ain’t. They know minnows when they see minnows. And you boys be tiddlers. You don’t have a prayer.

The exemplary pro-life (but also pro-death penalty, pro-killing in Iraq) evangelists of the Christian Right may well decide not to listen to their earth-bound masters in 2008, but the Holy Spirit is still going to make them plump for one or other of the Republican fat cats. So, which one is it going to be?

Romney? I’m getting bored even typing his name.

Giuliani? Even he knows he’s wasting his time courting these voters. He’s not intending to speak at the National Religious Broadcasters’ meeting at all.

McCain? Hmmaybe. There may be some nose-holding, though. Memories still go back to Mac’s talk of “agents of intolerance” in 2000.

So? Yup. You got it. The Dark Horse. The guy all the pundits just love to overlook – Newt Gingrich.

That’s my prediction. Look for The Newt to pick up heavily – and unexpectedly – among Christian Right voters, once the caucus and primary season begins in 2008.

In particular, look for a strong showing in South Carolina, which I think Newt will win. Pretty much bringing to a close the campaigns of the minnows. Dealing a death blow to Romney, and seriously denting McCain.

There’s even a chance that South Carolina will do for McCain what I predict it will do to Hillary – show that they’re both losers in the South. After S.C, Mac may hobble through some more primaries in the North and Mid-West. But The Newt could then seal the deal when the circus tracks back South later in 2008.

Published in: on February 15, 2007 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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