Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Washington, District of Columbia,
August 01
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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JANUARY 6, 2012 8:05AM

The Republican religious war

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Make no mistake – if Mitt Romney was a Baptist this thing would be over. But Citizen’s United unleashed a ton of Mormon money and Evangelicals are running scared.

What’s playing out in the GOP today isn’t a battle between moderates and conservatives – the party no longer has any moderates. In fact, the word preach my gospel flickr attrib More Good Foundation 300x “moderate” has become a pejorative. No, the current battle is between collection-plate Christians and the insular financial powerhouse that is Mormonism. They are fighting over which religion will call the shots in the R-Party going forward.

Within all the Sturm und Drang about the Iowa caucuses, an underreported story is that Rick Perry dropped out, and then got back in. Those who live in fantasyland will parse his words and say he never literally said he was dropping out. But he clearly spoke the code words candidates speak in order to avoid saying they lost.

My guess is that James Dobson was on the phone with Perry within minutes of his televised withdrawal, glamouring him about being part of God’s plan and offering to put him back in the game.

A Saturday meeting in Texas is the likely result of this. Well known collection-plate evangelicals Don Wildmon (former chair of the American Family Association,) Gary Bauer (a famous evangelical lobbyist,) and Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family) quickly called the meeting. They, with others, are the same group that had a secret meeting with Perry in August. Wildmon and Dobson were both speakers at Perry’s prayer rally. Both have endorsed him in the past, though Wildmon has been a Gingrich supporter lately.

No word if Pastor Bill Keller will be in attendance. He’s the one who said a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan. But you can bet Perry-supporter Pastor Robert “but he is not a Chris-ti-an” Jeffress will be in attendance. Other prominent collection-platers Tony Perkins and John Hagee have also supported Perry and are sure to be invited as well.

The meeting is important. So important that Rick Santorum surrogate Ron Carey was on cable news Thursday morning trying to co-opt the agenda for Santorum. He told Chuck Todd,

“There is a bunch of faith-based conservative leaders who are getting together to talk about can they coalesce as leaders of the conservative movement to get behind Santorum.”

Santorum can only wish. Most of these kingmakers endorsed McCain in the last election. So they’d be natural Romney endorsers except for his religion. But within the group, Rick Perry seems to have the mojo. He is vain enough to glamour, faithful enough to scare, and dumb enough to manipulate. Think George W.

Why not Santorum? Even Christian zealots know that Santorum has no chance to beat President Obama. For starters, he is on video advocating (not just explaining) his opposition to birth control.

“It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” Santorum says. Never mind that the vast majority of married (and Christian) couples practice birth control. They also fornicate for fun, which would probably make Santorum’s head explode.

A few fringe Protestant groups oppose birth control and certainly the Roman Catholic Church teaches against it. But I can’t think of a single Catholic I know (including family and more than a few priests) who doesn’t believe in birth control. And I don’t know a single Catholic woman who would vote to outlaw birth control simply to avoid a trip to confession. Maybe the Duggars…

Being wrong on one issue isn’t a campaign killer, but being so wrong on an issue like birth control – one of the single most important issues of women – is a sign of sheer stupidity. Rank stupidity is a deal breaker.

Santorum can only run from his opposition to sex birth control. If he runs on it – or can’t hide from it – he has no chance of being elected. The Dobsons of the world are practical politicians. Coalescing behind Santorum would be an act of utter desperation.

Rick Perry, on the other hand, offers all the malleability of Santorum without all the baggage. He’s a good Christian who’s dumb enough to follow instructions and vain enough to think they were his ideas. Sometime between dropping out Tuesday night and pretending he never did Wednesday morning, Perry seems to have gotten the word to wait until at least this weekend to plot his future. Expect the emergency Christian summit to anoint him as the true candidate of God.

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I hope you're wrong. Rick Perry is not smart enough to be a competent dog catcher.
Poor Repubs....they are just not going to survive into the Age of Aquarius. Thank goodness. They are just so confused. You really explained it all so well. Secret meetings. They are floundering.
Jimmy, I think this meeting is an exercise in futility. No half-sane CC leader could possibly believe that a social conservative could win in an out-and-out race with Obama.

I heard Jeffries in an interview on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" and he says that the CC's will hold their nose and pull the lever for whomever emerges as the GOP candidate. This, after saying in the same interview that Mormonism is a cult and "not Christian."
You make a good case to explain Perry's turn-around.

While I wouldn't, if I could, vote for Santorum under any circumstances, I don't think his presidency would be any threat to birth control. A president can't issue an edict like that. What worries me about Santorum, and most of the field, is they have their heads up their asses about religious matters and "social issues" - the latter being things like gay marriage rather than truly serious things like the economy. (Of course, Santorum is on record as saying if we just got the family stuff right, the economy would fall in line.....?????)
I'm no fan of evangelicalism but Mormonism may be even worse and I suspect that they're going to lose this one. the silver lining, if you want to call it that is that this will provide an opportunity to discuss the details of Mormonism. this will include an enormous amount of misinformation but there is also an enormous amount of accurate criticism for that religion that should be presented to the public. this is already available for those that take the trouble to look for it.

We really should find a better way to educate the public about these issues without running a bunch of lunatics for president.
Myriad, don't be so sure about a Santorum win not affecting birth control. 8 years of W brought about the loss of abortion services in over 20 states, another conservative in office will run that last mile to reverse 50 years of women's rights.
Posted much of my below comment recently for contributor VZN in reply to his "All American Muslims & best writings of" on this site. Like him, you've raised several important points but you've more closely addressed the political implications.

Could we instead look at this topic from the perspective of "Religious Intolerance", setting aside the more subtle influence of current primary election politics, your above "True candidate of God" notwithstanding.

Mitt Romney will have to contend with this contrived obstacle (religious test, actually) at some point, of course, since his own religion precludes support by the Evangelical Militant Christian right wing.

Your "Vote For Satan" reference touches on this issue, this religous LITMUS won't be ignored by fundamentalists, who've a rabid dislike for "Outsiders".

Let's instead for a moment look at religion as a political tool to be used AGAINST candidates running for office, or against entire sectors of the public, even on an international scale. Specifically the Islamic Community.

Tho VZN implies in his post that he doesn't have a "major axe to grind" on this topic, it's obviously of concern to both of you, to myself or any of us paying attention to socially relevant issues of importance.

And as should be apparent this particular topic can be quite combustible, ongoing intolerant religious behavior in the USA has been used for political gain by those willing to exploit it, very recently in fact. And across nearly the last decade.

As volatile as many of us recognize this barely controlled religious fear-mongering to be, these remnants of the "Fear Agenda" following 9-11 remain with us today, spilling across international borders, amplifying and encouraging those fears already present in other countries.

US Foreign policy was essentially dictated by these conditions under the last administration, intentionally so. In order to rationalize invasion and occupation of Iraq, for instance.

Unfortunately, this tactic of exploiting fear as a convenient political tool isn't limited to the Right Wing in the US, Norway was a fine example of the results of that "Religious Intolerance". As reflected by events in July of 2011.


(search "M Kitt" on that page, for my comments, if you'd like)

And the Fear-Mongering Right will continue to exploit the distress they've nurtured against the world Islamic community, will promote that manufactured, contrived public anxiety for as long as it serves their agenda. Which is to say ENDLESSLY.

Even in the context of much less volatile "Primary Election" campaign settings.

But your above "Republican Religious War" title is quite appropriate, thanks.
Of all the places I've ever published, Open Salon always produces the most thoughtful and intelligent comments.