Posts Tagged ‘Dr. James Dobson’

On January 25th the astroturf flak-claque fraud-blog laughably titled Evangelicals for Mitt touted the newly released Focus on the Family video voters guide in a blog burst titled FOCUS ON THE FAMILY’S ASSESSMENT

Charles Mitchell, the author, cites Time’s account of the voters guide and emphasizes how the voters guide is said to criticizes Gov. Huckabee. Mitchell also quotes, but allows to pass without comment, this particular claim:

[…] “Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith,” Minnery adds. “But on the social issues we are so similar” […]

About Time’s account of the Focus on the Family voters guide, Mitchell issues this strange disclaimer: “I’m not saying the TIME story is right—and Minnery denies that it is.”

Precisely what Minnery denies Mitchell leaves unspecified. But could it have something to do with Minnery’s preposterous claim that Romney had, at any time, acknowledged that he is not a Christian?

“Last week, the political arm of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family released an online video voter guide to help Christians sort through the “pro-family” records of the presidential candidate,” writes Michael Scherer for’s Swampland in a blog burst titled Focus on the Family Voter Guide Wrong About Romney

The guide offers largely negative appraisals of Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mike Huckabee, and a far more glowing description of Mitt Romney.

But not everything the voter guide says about Romney is true. In one key part, Tom Minnery, a public policy expert at Focus on the Family, says the following:

Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith, and I appreciate his acknowledging that.

On Saturday, I read this quote to Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s traveling press secretary. He did not hesitate or mince his words. “The governor has not made that acknowledgment,” Fehrnstrom told me. “He has said that his belief is not the same as others. But there is no doubt that Jesus Christ is at the center of the LDS church’s worship.”

In fact, the Church of Latter Day Saints, also know as the Mormon church, holds as a central belief that it is a Christian faith. This belief is a concern for some evangelical Christians, who see Mormonism as a competing religion. On the campaign trail, Romney has avoided discussing his faith in depth, and he has acknowledged that there are differences between his faith and others. But he has not been quoted saying Mormonism is not a Christian faith […]

Romney’s own claims on this issue have been vexed and misleading. See:

Romney retreats from “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind” blur-the-distinctions line, falls back to weaker, compromising, pragmatic, “different faiths, same values” line delivered through screen of Evangelical surrogates—conclusion: Romney’s “speech” failed completely

Dr. Dobson’s publicly articulated—or often disarticulated—attitude toward Romney has also been vexed and varied:

Dr. James C. Dobson goes not gentle into that good night/burns and raves at close of day;/ rage, rages against the dying of his light in Republican coalition politics

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


“Andrew Sullivan recommends David Brooks’ thoughts on Mitt Romney,” writes the elegant Matthew Yglesias in an blog-burst titled Romney and Institutional Power

[…] Brooks: “The leaders of the Republican coalition know Romney will lose. But some would rather remain in control of a party that loses than lose control of a party that wins. Others haven’t yet suffered the agony of defeat, and so are not yet emotionally ready for the trauma of transformation. Others still simply don’t know which way to turn.” That seems about right. In the progressive blogosphere, this idea circulates under the heading “iron law of institutions” which posits that institutional leaders care more about their own power within the institution than about the institution’s power in the world.

It strikes me as a largely accurate characterization of the choice […]

We followed the elegant Mr. Yglesias’ google link and found the left-of-center blog, A Tiny Revolution. In post titled Democrats And The Iron Law of Institutions, someone—we could not find an author’s name, but neither did we look very hard—elaborates on the theme of The Iron Law of Institutions:

[…] The Iron Law of Institutions is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.

This is true for all human institutions, from elementary schools up to the United States of America. If history shows anything, it’s that this cannot be changed. What can be done, sometimes, is to force the people running institutions to align their own interests with those of the institution itself and its members […]

The author provides this example from an author named Walter Karp:

[…] As soon as McGovern was nominated, party leaders began systematically slurring and belittling him, while the trade union chieftains refused to endorse him on the pretense that this mild Mr. Pliant was a being wild and dangerous. A congressional investigation of Watergate was put off for several months to deprive McGovern’s candidacy of its benefits. As an indiscreet Chicago ward heeler predicted in the fall of 1972, McGovern is “gonna lose because we’re gonna make sure he’s gonna lose”…So deftly did party leaders “cut the top of the ticket” that while Richard Nixon won in a “landslide,” the Democrats gained two Senate seats […]

But it was this example that, for us, connects with the present moment:

[…] It was a Republican state party boss, Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, who early this century stated with notable candor the basic principle and purpose of present-day party politics. In the face of a powerful state and national resurgence of reform and the sentiments of the majority of the Republican rank and file, Penrose put up a losing slate of stand-pat party hacks. When a fellow Republican accused him of ruining the party, Penrose replied, “Yes, but I’ll preside over the ruins” […]

The emphasis is ours, all ours.

The lame-brained editors at the National Review, Rush Limbaugh, ideological courtesan Hugh Hewitt, Dr. James Dobson—Yes, they know Romney will ruin the party, and probably the country, but they’ll preside over the ruins. Yes, only no, because precisely the opposite is the case: Romney, who bought and paid for their services, presides over them.

If Romney continues his disastrous losing streak, he will take them all down with him.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“What a nice guy!” writes Joe Klein in a expository burst titled A Tale of Two Romney’s

Mitt Romney is all humble and reasonable, a human goose-down comforter lulling the Iowans who have come to hear him at a classic heartland café in downtown Newton on a Saturday morning. “I don’t think anybody votes for yesterday,” he says, streaming balm …

Streaming balm?

… On second thought, nope. This guy is, literally, unbelievable and completely at odds with the Romney festering on television screens and in mailings throughout Iowa and New Hampshire. That Romney is nonstop negative, and jingo-crazed about the perils of illegal immigration. He offers exclamations, not balm: John McCain wants to make ’em citizens! Mike Huckabee gave them college scholarships! And McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts! And Huckabee pardoned all these criminals when he was Governor of Arkansas, while Romney pardoned not a single one of his Massachusetts felons!

Klien develops a new take on the TWO ROMNEYS trope that gets retailed every fortnight or so. Here would be another:

Luo: “Ever since Mr. Romney began his presidential bid, his campaign has oscillated between two distinct, some would say contradictory, themes—Mr. Romney as a conservative standard-bearer and him as a pragmatic problem-solving businessman”

Here would be another:

Brooks of the NYT: “But [Romney’s] biggest problem is a failure of imagination—Market research is a snapshot of the past—With his data-set mentality, Romney has chosen to model himself on [And the painfully literal rubes of the National Review have chosen to endorse] a version of Republicanism that is receding into memory—As Walter Mondale was the last gasp of the fading New Deal coalition, Romney has turned himself into the last gasp of the Reagan coalition”

Back to Klein:

All these claims are accurate, or nearly so, and well within the smarmy bounds of political advertising. The problem is schizophrenia: negative Romney on television, positive Romney on the stump. Moderate Massachusetts Mitt vs. Raging Romney of the primaries. “Pay attention to both,” New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor wrote in an extraordinary editorial, “and you’re left to wonder if there’s anything at all at his core.”

There are limits in politics. You can get away with changing a position—perhaps Romney really did see the light on abortion, not just the results of an Iowa focus group—but you can’t just reinvent yourself out of whole cloth. You can go negative on your opponents, but it’s a stretch to attack them for taking the same positions—on immigration, most notably—that you used to take, especially when you keep getting caught having illegals tend your garden. The sheer cynicism is driving Romney’s Republican opponents nuts. He is wildly unpopular among his peers. “I just hate the guy,” says a rival campaign manager. “If we can’t win, I want to be sure he loses” … etc.

We sure do too. The emphases, by the way, are ours, all ours.

Here is the problem for us: Romney is an apparition—he doesn’t really exist as a political entity. He has no natural constituency (who does he represent, what community does he claim as his own, super-rich leveraged buy-out specialists?), and no territorial base (he cannot deliver his home state!—he could not run in his home state in his current incarnation and survive; imagine how this troubled man will fare in the south after he savaged Gov. Huckabee). Romney is not simply running from his record of policy and governance, he is running against his record, passionately against it!

Our conclusion: The man has nothing, nothing that would recommend him to our highest office.

Yet the goofballs at the National Review endorsed this human work of farcical high fiction to be our president. Dr. Dobson praises him, Rush Limbaugh extolls his questionable virtues, and ideological courtesan Hugh Hewitt writes book-length love-peans to the non-entity candidate from nowhere.

Suddenly—overnight, perhaps while we were sleeping peacefully—the conservative worldview came to mean its precise opposite—it suddenly came to mean a naive faith in human and political agency to not only improve and perfect, but to recreate the human condition, starting with the person and character of Willard Milton Romney. In him consists the solution to our most pressing social problems: it is accept that truth is a socially negotiated artifact, and that we may construct our own realities if we would just believe—that is, believe in Romney.

Also: Why is everyone only now waking up to the grim fact that Romney is an ugly, vicious, hateful cipher of a man, despite his primped and proper exterior? We have harped on this finely-tuned string for months now …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney is seizing the opportunity created by Dr. James Dobson’s threat of a third party candidacy. The Massachusetts pol is positioning himself as the GOP candidate of choice for religious conservatives,” writes the estimable Deal W. Hudson in an editorial for the Post Chronicle titled Has James Dobson Created An Opening For Mitt Romney?

How? In a Boston Globe story from October 5, Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said, “Dr. Dobson is keeping an open mind on Mitt Romney, and I think this is because they do share in common so many values.”In short, Romney wants to portray himself as the only major candidate with Dobson’s approval still in the running.

Romney also wants to portray himself as the emerging choice of the so-called “social right”; see: The Dawning Realization of the Social Right, a breathless and intemperate Romney-fantasia authored by someone named Matt C.

Back to Hudson:

Dr. Dobson didn’t take the bait.

We reported on the same event and arrived at a similar conclusion: Romney courts Dobson, fails miserably to persuade

Back to Hudson:

The Boston Globe reporter, Michael Kranish, called Dobson to get a comment on the campaign statement, but he did not return the call.

No one can blame Romney for trying to fill in the vacuum created by Dobson’s negative comments on nearly all the GOP candidates. After all, Dobson has said nothing critical about Romney himself, only that Evangelicals would not be likely to vote for a Mormon.

We reported on that too: Dobson of Focus on the Family sells soul to Satan for a pittance; praises Romney

Back to Hudson:

“I don’t believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen, I guess,” Dobson said on a national radio show October 2, 2006.

The signs are not good that Dobson will back Romney. Dobson’s attempt in Salt Lake City to rally other religious leaders to a third party cause came the day after Romney spoke to the same group.

If Dobson had been favorably impressed, he would not have carried through with his plan to lead his colleagues out of the GOP for the 2008 election.

By addressing Dobson publicly, the Romney campaign is taking a huge risk. Fehrnstrom argued that Dobson and Romney “may not agree on theology, but they share in common values like protecting the sanctity of life.”

This is a problematic issue for the Romney campaign to raise with pro-lifers like Dobson and other members of the Council on National Policy. Not only is Romney’s pro-life commitment of a recent vintage, it remains inconsistent on the very important issue of embryonic stem cell researchmore

Question: why the indecision from Evangelicals—or, more precisely, why are Evangelical leaders emitting incoherent noise?—answer: the problem of maintaining power and influence. Regard:

” … the leaders of the [Evangelical] movement have a clear hierarchy of preferences [in this election],” writes the estimable eye of in a ruthlessly honest analytical discursus titled Why the religious right hasn’t found a candidate

  1. Support the candidate who wins the White House. Call this the George W. Bush case. Might be the Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney case.
  2. Support the candidate who wins the primary but loses the general. Call this the Hillary Clinton case or the Mike Huckabee case. It may also be the Thompson or Mitt Romney case also.
  3. Oppose the candidate who wins the primary, but then be forced to support the candidate in the general. (But probably get no love from the White House if the candidate wins) Call this the John McCain case.
  4. Oppose the (GOP) candidate in the primary and the general who wins the White House. Call this the Rudy Giuliani case.

Clearly the last two are unacceptable to any interest group leader. They simply lose access when, eventually, their followers will, to some extent, rally around whoever is in the White House. The leader is marginalized over time.

The other two cases are the interesting parts. I don’t know anyone who thinks that Brownback and Huckabee could really win a general election, although that is shifting for Huckabee to some extent. Huckabee would face his own problems; in some sense, Mike Huckabee is to the Club for Growth what Rudy Giuliani is to James Dobson. So conservative Christian leaders are sitting down and asking themselves:

  1. Can Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney win the nomination?
  2. Can they win the general?

If the answer to (2) is “no”, then the right strategy is to back whoever allows them to build the strongest organization. Perhaps you could call this the Bob Dole strategy? But if the answer to (2) is “yes”, then they have to figure out which pony to pick, or, at least, which pony not to kill. And, again, there are reasons, in both candidates, for the followers not to follow. In the case of Mitt Romney, it is his religion. (note that I am not defending that, just saying that it is a reality) Increasingly, Fred Thompson has disappointed religious right leaders on gay marriage. And these are echoes of a past that is even more problematic for them.

So you get a hodgepodgemore

So: You also get a Willard Milton Romney attempting to spin the confusion as movement in his favour. This is what happens when leaders—e.g. Dobson—fail to lead: you get non-leaders rising up to fill the void—e.g. Romney.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.