April 14, 2006

A Christian Gut-Punch

Just a couple of brief notes about Pat Robertson's response in the Wall Street Journal to Ross Douthat's article, "Theocon Moment." There is so much wrong with Douthat's piece that I have neither the time nor the fortitude to address it in any detail. I will point out that Douthat says, "religious conservatism, at its best, is a response to the excesses of the sexual revolution," and he later laments "the pornographication of the public square." They sure do hate that nasty sex business. Ick. And Douthat's major strategy recommendation is gradualism -- the slow death of civil liberties and individual rights: "This probably means being willing, in a possible post-Roe world, to ease in regulations on abortion slowly and with relatively mild penalties, rather than leaping immediately to a ban even in cases of rape and incest, as South Dakota recently did." Good thinking, Douthat. We wouldn't want to move too quickly in turning women into fertility clinic slaves with no rights at all to their own bodies. Putting those chains on one link at a time is a real charm tactic.

But back to Pat. Robertson seems particularly irked by Douthat's description of him and Jerry Falwell as "jowly bigots." It's hard to tell which part of that characterization bothers him more. In any event, it's good to know that Robertson is a "fitness enthusiast," who has "not recently been called 'jowly.'" Appearances are important, after all.

To give Robertson some credit, I note the following paragraph he offers to attest to his organization's "good works":
Since Katrina hit New Orleans, we have played a major role in the relief and recovery efforts, and have already provided $4.4 million in cash grants to 215 organizations, $23 million in medicine, 1.3 million pounds of lumber and building supplies, 262 tractor-trailer loads of food, drinks and relief supplies, and served 584,872 hot meals to residents and volunteers. We also operate a free clinic in St. Bernard Parish and are about to open a free medical clinic later this month.
Given the government's criminally incompetent and negligent performance before, during and after Katrina, this is a very good thing (assuming this recitation is accurate, and that the aid actually gets to those who so desperately need it and doesn't come with odious strings attached), and I applaud Robertson for his efforts in this regard.

The article is entirely predictable, and it's all very nice and covers the requisite touchy-feely points. Finally, in the last paragraph, Robertson gets to the real point, and the only one that matters in the end:
More than 30% of Republican Party voters are motivated by moral values. Mr. Douthat knows full well if those voters stay home in 2006 and 2008, the Democrats will sweep those elections. Republicans should beware of his disastrous advice.
Translation: "You need us much, much more than we need you. Give us what we want, or you and your friends are out on your asses. Don't tell us about strategy, you pantywaist loser."

I'm an atheist, so perhaps it's not my place to make this observation -- but that hardly seems Christian to me. On the other hand, Douthat's position is quite pathetic: he can't win this battle at the moment, and he knows it. For now, Robertson and his allies are in control of this dynamic. And they won't relinquish that control without a major struggle.

Now that could be very entertaining, indeed.