For those who came in during the commercial break: The blogosphere debate du jour is about whether the Republican Party needs to boot Dobson-style Christian fundamentalists out of its coalition or Cheney-style neocon Vulcans. Parker says the Hagee-ites are dragging down the party, Friesendorf says the Kristol-ites, Bouie says, the Hagee-ites tend to support the foreign policy doctrine of the Kristol-ites.
If you want to understand how these two groups interact, Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement is a really indispensable book. The dynamic, essentially, is that the neocons use public intermediaries, such as Hagee, Bush back when he was popular, and, more recently, Sarah Palin, to market PNAC policies to folks who are, by and large, more interested in their own immediate problems. So you have people who sign up for far-right Christian evangelism because they’re hoping to pray their way out of a terrible job, illness, etc., and just go along with things like praying for the pardon of Scooter Libby because that’s part of the package.
Of course, in order to get this group out to the polls, the party has to make them absolutely terrified of the other side. Coates had something about this earlier today–it’s not about defining yourself as being for something good, it’s about defining yourself as being against Satan. And so that’s where the wedge issues–gay people coming to marry and sex up your kids, etc.–come in.
Which is to say that the problem isn’t religious folk per se, it’s a specific movement inside the Christian community that doesn’t have much of a coherent belief system beyond what they declare themselves in opposition to. It’s more Anti-Satanism than Christianity, in which “Satan” is a boogyman concocted by Hagee, Dobson, and some very clever Republican strategists.
But now that the Republican coalition is showing some serious fault lines, it’s hard to tell where exactly this subset of the evangelical community is going to end up. I’d like to say that the 2008 election killed this style of politics, but if Palin’s the 2012 nominee, it’s going to be one of the foremost rationales for her candidacy.