Remember the GOP convention last year? One of the favorite audience participation activities as 'Flip-flop', a sort of hand-jive that went along with a chant intended to mock Democratic candidate John Kerry's real or imagined reversals of position on various issues. What would those vaunted volunteers have to say about E. J. Dionne Jr. exposing the hypocrisy of their party and Owwer Leedur?
(A tip of the Titanium Tam O'Shanter to commenter Ann for the lead)
Now we know: President Bush's supporters are prepared to be thoroughly hypocritical when it comes to religion.
They'll play religion up or down, whichever helps them most in a political fight.
Shortly after Bush named John Roberts to the Supreme Court, a few Democrats, including Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), suggested that the nominee might reasonably be questioned about the impact of his religious faith on his decisions as a justice. Durbin had his head taken off. "We have no religious tests for public office in this country," thundered Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), insisting that any inquiry about a potential judge's religious views was 'offensive'. Fidelis, a conservative Catholic group, declared that "Roberts' religious faith and how he lives that faith as an individual has no bearing and no place in the confirmation process."
That wasn't the position of the Republican Party back when Catholic John F. Kennedy was running for president!
But I digress.
But now that Harriet Miers, Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, is in trouble with conservatives, her religious faith and how she lives that faith are becoming central to the case being made for her by the administration and its supporters.
Let's be clear: It is pro-administration conservatives ... who are making an issue of Miers's evangelical faith. Liberals are not opposing Miers because she is an evangelical. Conservatives are telling their friends to support Miers because she is an evangelical.
Can she not stand on her own two very religious feet?
Miers has almost no public record. Don't worry, the administration's allies are telling their friends on the right, she's an evangelical Christian. The use of Miers's religion as a magnet for conservative support is not just the work of a few religious voices. It's part of the administration's strategy. The New York Times reported that the White House put Judge Nathan L. Hecht, Miers's close friend and a fellow member of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, "on at least one conference call with influential social conservative organizers" to testify to her conservative faith.
Jay Sekulow, counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said on Pat Robertson's television show that the Miers nomination was "a big opportunity for those of us who have a conviction, that share an evangelical faith in Christianity, to see someone with our positions put on the court." Marvin Olasky, a conservative Christian writer who has been a strong Bush supporter, explained his sympathy for Miers. "Maybe it's the judicial implications of her evangelical faith, unseen on the court in recent decades," Olasky wrote on his blog. "Friends who know Miers well testify to her internal compass that includes a needle pointed toward Christ."
Considering what now follows, one has to wonder about that assertion:
Rather mysteriously, James Dobson, the founder and chairman of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, who was briefed on the nomination by Bush's chief lieutenant, Karl Rove, told [Fox News reporter Brit] Hume: "I do know things that I am not prepared to talk about here."
He was equally cagey with the New York Times: "Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about."
There is, however, some good news. A significant number of conservatives are outraged over the administration's look-at-her-faith campaign. I was first tipped off to the White House's pious strategy earlier this week by a prominent conservative who is very sympathetic to people of faith but angry at what he sees as the misuse of religion in the Miers battle.
And Ed Morrissey, whose Captain's Quarters is one of the most popular conservative blogs, said publicly what other concerned conservatives have said privately. "The push by more enthusiastic Miers supporters to consider her religious outlook smacks of a bit of hypocrisy," Morrissey wrote. "After all, we argued the exact opposite when it came to John Roberts and William Pryor when they appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. . . . Conservatives claimed that using religion as a reason for rejection violated the Constitution and any notion of religious freedom. Does that really change if we base our support on the same grounds?"
I'm eagerly awaiting the White House's answer to that question.
As are we all!
When members of the Democratic caucus used religion, disguising it as they did, to filibuster people like John Roberts and Janice Rogers Brown for their staunch Catholocism, everyone knew it -- and we Republicans rightly called them out for conducting religious tests for office.
If Miers' evangelicalism remains the top selling point of her nomination, then I submit that the White House has already lost this battle. They need to stop promoting religion as a legitimate point of consideration on Miers' curriculum vitae, or else conservative nominations will face nothing less than an Inquisition on every confirmation -- an Inquisition endorsed by the foolishness of short-sighted conservatives.
Well, religious tests work both ways. One cannot eat their cake and have it too on questions of faith as prerequisites for office. Either it's off limits and no one uses religious affiliations to deny or promote candidates, or we start having open wars over the nature and truth of religion on every candidate sent for Senatorial confirmation.
It may come as a shock to our Wrong-Wing Wregulars, but I not only can live within these limits that Morrissey proposes - I heartily endorse them.
See - we here on The Left Coaster can find areas of agreement with conservative when we feel they are correct, as I do here with Ed Morrissey. Try taking this approach with us on the discussion threads and see what develops.
Copyrighted [©] source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.
FAIR USE NOTICE
This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.