Posts Tagged ‘value voters summit’

“James Dobson Declares Values Voters Still Have a Strong Voice; Calls Romney’s speech a “magnificent” reminder of faith’s role in politics and policy,” as reproduced by Justin Hart in a post titled James Dobson on the Romney Speech

Colorado Springs, Colo. — Focus on the Family Action founder and chairman James C. Dobson, Ph.D., issued the following statement today in response to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s speech on “Faith in America”:

That’s interesting. Is there a vast Dobson responsa literature?

Gov. Romney’s speech was a magnificent reminder of the role religious faith must play in government and public policy. His delivery was passionate and his message was inspirational. Whether it will answer all the questions and concerns of Evangelical Christian voters is yet to be determined, but the governor is to be commended for articulating the importance of our religious heritage as it relates to today.

Dobson’s reasoning is perverse on its face. Romney’s inoculation script—what bloggers refer to as The Speech—reminds us not that religious faith plays a role in government or public policy, but rather in US electoral politics as the Evangelical movement, whom Dr. Dobson purports to represent, maintain a bloc that Romney sorely wants to claim for his own. It is precisely Romney’s peril—his Agony-in-Iowa—that provoked Romney into finally delivering The Speech.

Please also note Dobson’s hedging and qualifying: “Whether it will answer all the questions and concerns of Evangelical Christian voters is yet to be determined” … etc. Dobson is right to be cautious. He’s been burned before for drawing too close to Romney, e.g. at the so-called Value Voters Summit:

out-of-touch Evangelical “leaders” stunned by Huckabee upset at the value voters summit—prepared to sigh, shrug, and coronate Romney as their Lord, G_d, and King—oh, the irony!

Back to Dobson:

“Many in the media have been busily crafting the obituaries of ‘values voters’ in recent months. David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times, along with Tom Brokaw, Frank Rich and other liberal journalists, have been predicting a dramatic ‘Evangelical crackup’. They are dead wrong. Religion has already played a major role in this election cycle, and will continue to be evident through’08. The sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage and the care and nurturing of children will be important issues to people of faith as they choose a new generation of leaders. You can take it to the bank.

Here is Dobson’s real concern, his only concern: power, power in the form of the influence he once wielded in Republican party politics. Dobson uses the occasion of Romney’s abject humiliation—Romney’s being forced by Gov. Huckabee to dwell on the topic of his faith tradition—to lash out at voices in the media who had the audacity to suggest that Dobson’s power is on the wane.

“Again, Gov. Romney’s speech served as a reminder that religion has always played a significant role in electoral politics. Candidates who disregard the spiritual heritage of this great nation and its viability today will do so at their peril.”

Here Dobson corrects himself precisely where we suggested above—not government, not policy, but the marketplace-barnyard of electoral politics is Dobson’s concern. What Dobson means to say is this: “Candidates who disregard Evangelical elites like Dobson will do so at their peril.”

Here is the problem for Dobson: power—power not in the form of coercion, but rather power in the sense of group cohesion or social solidarity, what ibn Khaldun would call asabiya—never needs to justify itself or to argue for its own existence. And Romney’s speech is not a demonstration of Romney drawing strength from a vital movement or an historical source, but precisely the opposite—it is rather a demonstration of supreme weakness, almost helplessness on Romney’s part as he tries to attach himself to a base that has lost its coherence.

Moral: Dobson and Romney deserve one another.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. About my subject line: apologies to Dylan Thomas and lovers of poetry everywhere.


“None of this happens by accident,” writes young Justin of the Heart Land in a preening and self-congratulatory MyManMitt post titled The Ability to Execute.

The plan is laid, the efforts set and the execution is nearly flawless. Classic Team Romney.

The plan is laid?—who talks like this? This sounds too much like the trap is set.

Young Justin refers to the value voters summit:

Take this last week for example. Think of it in terms of a business case study, outlining the “challenge”, proposing a “solution”, targeting specific “benefits” and measuring “results”.

CHALLENGE: Disolve concerns about Mitt’s Mormonism among Conservative Evangelicals.

SOLUTION: Highlight the Governor as the only leading candidate meeting 100% of the SoCon values and win endorsements from leading Evangelicals leading up to the seminal pre-primary “Values Voters” conference.

BENEFITS: Develop day after day endorsements followed by a good showing at the straw poll giving serious momentum to the campaign among Evangelicals and building qualified talking points to address the Mormon question.

EXECUTION PLAN … etc., etc.

Only here is the problem. The “plan” backfired painfully. The endorsers backed away in horror when they realized that their activists and donor base had refused to follow their lead. See:

What the Romneys need is less of a Justin Hart let-us-delight-in-our-superior-organization approach, and more of an outcomes based approach that focuses on what we in the working world call results.

Hey, Justin?—just as an aside—do you think Evangelicals like being touted—shown off like war-trophies—in your blog-post? Do you think they appreciate you depicting them as the passive objects of your misguided communications campaign? (How can Boy Perkins deny the charge of being a sell-out, or, worse, a patsy, now?) Don’t you think they would rather be depicted as thinking, reasoning beings who arrived at a decision for Romney based on their own estimation of the candidates, their values, and their goals? Just a thought, dude. But, hey, you’re doing a great job!—for former Mayor Giuliani.

Back to young Justin:

Regardless of what you think about “Romney the candidate”… “Romney the campaign” is unmatched in its ability to execute

Here is what impressed us the most about Justin’s strange epistle: Justin, by his own admission, really doesn’t care what you think about “Romney the candidate.” Rather, he wants you to marvel at how the campaign plans and executes. What sort of message does this send? What sort of campaign is this? What sort of candidate is this? Is there anyone in charge over at Team Romney? Any adults, we mean? Is anyone thinking any of this through? We would really like to know.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Evidence suggests that the so-called Evangelical “leadership”—Dobson, Perkins, Bauer etc.—are woefully disconnected from the Evangelical base. Erick of narrates in a post titled The GOP Conundrum: SoCons like Huckabee, but he’s more a threat to the coalition than Rudy

… I’m told that people in the room tabulating the votes were stunned by Huckabee’s showing. Stunned, for some of them, is an understatement. It seems clear to me that this was an opportunity for the leaders of the social conservative movement to sigh, shrug, and embrace Romney. They intended to.

They gave Romney a platform by himself on Friday night. They played heroic anthems for his entry and departure. He had the night all to himself. And he did well. Then Huckabee showed up the next day, sharing the same time cluster as Rudy. And Huckabee, with a speech he wrote himself, was magnificent.

Now, you can call me partisan or biased or whatever you want, but all I’m doing here is reporting. The leaders of the social conservative movement who were present, the Arlington Group members you hear so much about, were ready and willing to get on board Romney’s campaign on Saturday morning. Then Huckabee spoke. Then the straw vote was tabulated. Then they realized that were they to do so, it would put them completely out of step with their membersetc., etc.

Oh, the irony.

The elites were prepared to “embrace” Romney. And then the villagers rose up. Let this be a lesson for us all, especially for the super-geniuses that call themselves “Evangelicals for Mitt.” In a post titled Evangelicals Rally to Romney a tedious Nancy French quotes a newsmax story that begins:

Evangelical leaders are urging followers to support Mitt Romney’s campaign for president to prevent Rudy Giuliani from gaining the Republican nomination … etc., etc.

Evangelicals are not rallying to Romney. Not in the least. The text itself plainly states that their self-appointed so-called “leaders” are urging them to. But: the Evangelicals themselves are telling their “leaders”—e.g. the super-geniuses of the Arlington Group—to go pack sand—and rightly so. Here is what we wrote in another context:

Dearest, dearest Romney. Please understand: a campaign requires a message. And you haven’t got one. It is rational to reach out to the elites of an e.g. corporation, Mr. Romney—they are the decision makers. But a movement is by definition a loosely coupled, loosely cohering social entity, an entity where the ties that bind are moral as opposed to hierarchal. An e.g. well-known pastor is not like a CEO; he or she has a different kind of relationship with his or organization and its members. So: You’re going to have to learn how to reason, Mr. Romney, how to argue, and how to persuade—lies, bribes, pretending to be something that you are not—this is not persuasion—this is the antithesis of persuasion … etc., etc.

You may be able to purchase the corrupt Evangelical leadership, Romney. Buying an entire movement is a different sort of proposition.

yours &g.
dr. g.d.