Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Problems, but Not Scapegoats

Washington Post syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker takes a martyr's pride ("Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.") in her willingness to declare the religious right to be the enemy of the people -- or at least the Republican Party.

Of course, it would be easier to take Ms. Parker seriously if she made actual arguments instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks. Among her few substantive points is an allegation that Republicans have become too "white," but that is hardly a concern that can be laid at the feet of social conservatives. Black voters turning out for Barack Obama helped pass Proposition 8 in California, and social issues are among the few points of contact between Republicans and black and Hispanic voters over the last four decades, which is not to say that Republicans have done much to try to reach out to those voters.

Be that as it may, Ms. Parker and I actually agree on an important point: the influence of the religious right has been negative and should change. The difference is that she thinks it is bad for the Republican Party; I am more concerned that it has been bad for the church.

Granted: the excesses of the religious right have turned off some voters. However, it was not social issues that caused the Bush administration to run poorly an unpopular war. Social issues have not caused the unprecedented growth in domestic spending. They did not wreck the housing market or force a bailout of financial institutions. Religious conservatives have not driven the enormous growth under Republican leadership in earmark spending, the K Street Project, or the Abramoff scandals. Nor are religious conservatives responsible for foisting upon the nation Mark Foley, Ted Stevens, Duke Cunningham, or Larry Craig.

Ms. Parker thinks that Republicans have a "great big problem: G-O-D." Unfortunately for Republicans, the problems are bigger than that.

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