Rev. Robert Jeffress: Professional Jackass. How come God only talks to guys like this? (Courtesy CNN)
Well, I guess everyone can close out their office pool about when the Mormon faith would be brought up. Forget "dog whistle" politics: this was a fog horn. Bar the door to the temple: it's cult time!
In the new Republican majority, the tea party dominates the landscape, and for those who say that it doesn't, just ask your man in the well John Boehner. Any piece of legislation from the speaker's office is doomed from the jump. It is like being coach of the Dallas Cowboys: you might have the headset on, but the voice coming through it is from the owners box, which in conservative politics is the tea party. The old line party structure, where you paid your dues and moved up, is gone in the GOP.
Two decades ago, the Christian conservative/evangelical movement was a political behemoth. Fronted by a fresh-faced Ralph Reed, the movement helped bring about the Republican majority of 1994. Televangelist Pat Robertson wanted to move from the 700 Club to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They had money, media and support from the pews...and then, much like when we all wake up and realize we are a little bit older and grayer, the glory days had passed.
Ralph Reed was looped into the Jack Abramoff circle of power, Pat Robertson declared hurricanes and earthquakes God's change agent for geographical sin, and religious conservatives had nowhere to direct their angst. Enter the primaries...where when Rick Perry begins to struggle, one of his supporters throws out that the man who is beating Perry has to be an "other." That is one point on which Romney and President Obama can commiserate: being described as alien. Mitt Romney has to be part of a cult...a cult where he remains married to one woman for life, has five upstanding kids, and makes tons of money in private business. What Would Jesus Do, Indeed! Taken on its face, is not that the checklist for a values voter? (If anyone from the RNC is reading this, I think I deserve some royalties: I defend Republicans better than Mr. Preibus does).
Romney's faith was a not a problem until Chris Christie decided to keep his talents in Trenton. At that very moment money and endorsements flowed over to Romney, and Perry and his backers realized that Guy Smiley and his Potemkin Village health care were not enough of an anvil to sink his candidacy and have everyone move over to Perry.
Note: I do not blame Gov. Perry's campaign for this episode of intolerance, but as a political professional, you probably do not want a pastor who also said that the Catholic church is backed by Satan as your warm up act on the road. After Iowa and South Carolina, there is the little issue of the rest of the United States, where many of the working class Reagan Democrats that Republicans hunger for take communion every week.
And also: a hat tip to the Republican candidates who were asked about this over the weekend during all the political news programs: Jim Brown and Walter Payton combined couldn't sidestep tacklers the way they sidestepped the question of Mitt Romney's faith. I would love to be shocked, but this is the same crew of heroes who would not stand up for an openly gay soldier who asked a question (from Iraq) and was booed by the crowd. If there is room on the National Mall, we should fund a monument to the Republican field: all of them standing with their arms crossed, straddling a huge fence.
Even as a Democrat, I have to admire Mitt Romney and the abusive marriage he continues to stay in. Oh, I don't mean to his lovely wife: I am talking about his union with the Republican Party. How many times can you hear you are not loved or wanted, when all you do is try to make it work? Bringing home flowers, doing the counseling, denying that you had any part in insuring the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: its all so tough. The best thing Mitt Romney can do is keep raising money, gathering endorsements, and start working on his book about how he lost the 2012 presidential race to Barack Obama.
BTW: I believe in God. I believe in a warm, loving God that is there for you in times of need but let's you figure it out when you have the tools too and makes sure that we are all part of the energy of the world-an ethereal Atticus Finch. Rev. Jeffress kills it for the rest of us.