So this came in yesterday from another longtime friendly reader. I have to say I was stunned by it. We opposed Harriet Miers because she was evangelical! We opposed Gonzales because he was an evangelical! And, we didn’t support — wait for it! — George W. Bush enough because he’s an evangelical. And we are craven because we only supported Bush on issues where we agreed with him but not on others.
Jonah old savings and loan pal of mine:
You said:”I find the argument from many pro-Huck readers that opposing Huckabee is tantamount to rejecting social conservatism and evangelicals generally to be very thin gruel and little more than a rightwing version of thin-skinned identity politics (“If you don’t like my candidate, you don’t like me and everything I stand for!”
A few points as you have perhaps forgotten NRO’s history when it comes to evangelicals.:
- Does the name Harriet Miers ring a bell? Don’t you recall the last time K.Lo went into full Borg mode on somebody, how nasty National Review Online was? All I can say is thank God David Frum is not supporting Romney or he would give you all another lesson in nastiness.
- Have you forgotten how many times I emailed you requesting some facts to support NRO’s frequently repeated contention that Alberto Gonzales was incompetent? I have yet to receive a response. Is it just a coincidence that Gonzales is also an evangelical?
- Do you recall all the times Pat Robertson has been ridiculed on NRO? Have you forgotten all the ridicule heaped on Ted Haggard? While never a mention has been made about Cardinal Mahony’s protecting child abusers or driving several Catholic Diocese here in California into bankruptcy. You tell me who is more deserving of ridicule, at least Pastor Haggard’s church had the integrity to fire him.
- Please don’t claim at this late date that NR has supported evangelical President Bush. When was that? During the war in Iraq? Just a year ago almost every poster on NRO including yourself were declaring emphatically that the war in Iraq was lost. Now that things are going better all the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots have decide to join in the victory parade? Victory has a thousand fathers etc. etc. You guys didn’t support Bush for the nomination, attacked him about Hurricane Katrina, repeating “facts” that turned out to be falsehoods. You didn’t support him during Harriet Miers, during immigration, during No Child Left behind. In fact you only supported him when he did exactly what you would have done? Wow big deal. To paraphrase Jesus, even the craven do that.
So please if it’s really thin gruelism, please list three evangelicals NRO has supported for anything.
I think most people will agree there’s a lot – a lot
— that is simply factually incorrect and overheated. Almost every poster at NRO (note, the Corner has posters, NRO doesn’t — different beasts) said the war was lost? Really? Evidence that Gonzales stunk as AG was all around and the notion that his being an evangelical had anything
to do with him being an evangelical is quite simply bizarre. What I find fascinating here, however, is how transparent the logic of identity politics is here. Indeed, the reader — like many others — seems to think that an incompetent evangelical deserves support because they’re evangelical. By my lights the only time an evangelical deserves support solely because they are evangelical is when someone is discriminating against them because of their religion (likewise Jews, Hindus, Mormons et al.). If anybody attacked Gonzales for being evangelical I would have rushed to his defense. But they attacked him for being incompetent and too much of a hack. Being evangelical doesn’t negate those charges, it doesn’t even speak to them.
Besides, we were steadfast in our support for Gonzales’ predecessor (and my wife’s old boss) John Ashcroft who was — let the record show — far more of a posterboy for the evils of the Christian Right than Gonzales ever was. Many of us thought Harriet Miers was unqualified to be nominated to the Supreme Court (though don’t tell that to Hugh Hewitt, even though several pro-Huck readers now tell me he’s an anti-evangelical too because he doesn’t like Huckabee. Come on!). I don’t see how her being an evangelical should be a major qualification for the job (I could see, I suppose, it being a difference splitter between two qualified candidates for political reasons. But that wasn’t the case). The stuff about Pat Robertson and Mahoney is otherworldly. Rod Dreher went to town criticizing the Catholic Church for NR and NRO over the child abusers stuff. If my email is any measure, do you know what kind of readers are the most harsh on Pat Robertson? You guessed it: Evangelical Christians. Haggard was a news story for a couple days and the Corner responded to it. Again, impromptu blogging in response to breaking news isn’t always the best yardstick of editorial philosophy. What I find so disturbing about much — but by no means all — of the pro-Huckabee email I’ve been getting (on display in the email above) is how untethered it is from Huckabee’s record. It reminds of how black liberals used to respond to any attack on Jesse Jackson as an attack on all blacks (thank goodness that reflex is dying out). Lastly, it would be a waste of time to list three evangelicals NR has supported, or at least a waste of my
time, because I usually never think to ask who is or isn’t an evangelical. I don’t play those games. That said, the fact that NR has spent decades defending the decency and civic commitment of millions
of evangelicals against their enemies on the left, should count for something.