The Ayatollah Next Door
I'll be honest: I never really took the Christian right very seriously all these years. Falwell and Robertson always struck me as amusing sideshows, but the real battle was against the corporate plutocrats who controlled the Republican party. After this election, however, my bemused indifference has given way to sheer revulsion. But it's not Pat or Jerry we have to worry about--it's James Dobson. Michael Crowley's expose on Dobson's rise as a political player is both amusing (Dobson was long known for advocating child spanking) and frightening:
Dobson is now America's most influential evangelical leader, with a following reportedly greater than that of either Falwell or Robertson at his peak. Dobson earned the title. He proselytized hard for Bush this last year, organizing huge stadium rallies and using his radio program to warn his 7 million American listeners that not to vote would be a sin. Dobson may have delivered Bush his victories in Ohio and Florida.
Dobson earned the title. He proselytized hard for Bush this last year, organizing huge stadium rallies and using his radio program to warn his 7 million American listeners that not to vote would be a sin. Dobson may have delivered Bush his victories in Ohio and Florida.
He's already leveraging his new power. When a thank-you call came from the White House, Dobson issued the staffer a blunt warning that Bush "needs to be more aggressive" about pressing the religious right's pro-life, anti-gay rights agenda, or it would "pay a price in four years." And when the pro-choice Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter made conciliatory noises about appointing moderates to the Supreme Court, Dobson launched a fevered campaign to prevent him from assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which until then he had been expected to inherit. Dobson is now a Republican kingmaker.
Crowley ends his profile on a somewhat optimistic note, pointing out that Dobson's newfound prominence may tar Republicans as the party of religious extremists (a far-fetched idea, no?). But this is cold comfort in the short term. In the meantime, we have two sets of reactionary zealots to battle against: the corporatists (e.g. Norquist, Stephen Moore), and now the Red State ayatollahs, led by Dobson. God bl, er, save America.