Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jesus Loves Democrats

The Moose observes that the donkey can talk in tongues, too.

The Commonwealth of Virginia used to be the stomping grounds for the religious right. Old Jerry Falwell is headquartered in Lynchburg while Pat Robertson centers his empire in Virginia Beach where the Christian Coalition used to call home. And Righteous Ralph Reed was once a political boss in the state before he moved south to become a gambling scandal facilitator for Casino Jack Abramoff.

That was then, and now is now. Today, the face of religion in Virginia politics is progressive Democrat Governor-elect Timothy M. Kaine. It is a remarkable turnaround. Today's New York Times,

"One of the first things Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine did after entering the race for Virginia governor last spring was to go on evangelical Christian radio to talk about faith in politics. And one of his early advertisements spotlighted his work as a Christian missionary in Honduras during a break from law school two decades ago.

"Those were just two of a raft of moves by Mr. Kaine's campaign to underscore the importance of his Roman Catholicism to his life and political views. And they were crucial, his advisers say, in helping him parry attacks against his opposition to the death penalty and ultimately win a five-point victory over his Republican opponent, former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, in Tuesday's election to succeed a fellow Democrat, Gov. Mark Warner.

"All Tim's talk about his faith said to people, 'He's not a typical liberal,' " said David Eichenbaum, a media consultant to Mr. Kaine."

In particular, Kaine deflected the Republican attacks on his opposition to the death penalty by referring to his faith,

"Most important of those issues was the death penalty. In October, Mr. Kilgore's campaign began running two commercials featuring families of murder victims sharply criticizing Mr. Kaine's opposition to capital punishment. Mr. Kaine's camp responded quickly with an ad in which he spoke directly into the camera about his Catholicism.

"My faith teaches life is sacred," he said in that ad. "That's why I personally oppose the death penalty. But I take my oath of office seriously. And I'll enforce the death penalty."

In contrast, the religious right is hardly even mentioned in the reports about the Virginia campaign. In truth, while they are a significant force within the Republican Party, the influence of the religious right can easily be minimalized by Democratic candidates who are comfortable with faith talk. Many traditionalist voters want to have a sense that a candidate shares their values even though they may disagree with them on the specifics of an issue. Kaine achieved just that on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Reverend Pat is increasingly relegated to the outer fringes and Righteous Ralph is attempting to explain away how he assisted in a multi-million dollar scam. Jesus couldn't be pleased with his wayward right wing flock!

And will somebody please say, Amen!

-- Posted at 8:44 AM | Link to this post | Email this post