Campaigns/Elections

Two Righties on Romnian Theology

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In a presidential race with more invocations of Ronald Reagan than his adopted son's radio show, Peggy Noonan wonders if the paladin of conservatism would survive in today's party:

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I'm just not sure he'd be pure enough to make it in this party. I'm not sure he'd be considered good enough.

Sadly, Noonan is probably right. While not quite Barry "Kick Falwell Right in the Ass" Goldwater, Reagan would likely strike those propelling Huckleberry Huckabee to the top of polls in Iowa and New Hampshire as too inattentive to "religious issues." As Lou Cannon argued in the second volume of his peerless Reagan biography, as president he devoted little energy to "what was often called 'his social agenda.'" Cannon, who covered Reagan since his days as governor of California, concluded that "Some of the items on this agenda, like the call for a constitutional amendment to restore prayer in schools, were never more than throwaway lines intended to comfort the Religious Right or some other element of the conservative constituency."

On Romney's "I am Mormon, hear me roar" stump speech, in which he claimed, among other absurdities, that one could not be truly free absent religion, comes a good point from Charles, Hammer of the Krauts, in the Washington Post:

"Freedom requires religion," Romney declared, "just as religion requires freedom." But this is nonsense–as Romney then proceeded to demonstrate in that very same speech. He spoke of the empty cathedrals in Europe. He's right about that: Postwar Europe has experienced the most precipitous decline in religious belief in the history of the West. Yet Europe is one of the freest precincts on the planet. It is an open, vibrant, tolerant community of more than two dozen disparate nations living in a pan-continental harmony and freedom unseen in all previous European history.

From our June issue, Daniel McCarthy reviews John Patrick Diggins mildly revisionist take on the Gipper.

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  1. Live by the Southern Strategy, die by the Southern Strategy.

  2. Reagan was the apotheosis of the post-New Deal conservatism that existed for the purpose of being the opposition to the permanent Democratic majority. He embodied its big-tent, fusionist identity.

    Then the Republicans became the majority party, and their affirmative agenda turned out to be quite different.

  3. IMHO, Reagan considered the religious right a bunch of ignorant yahoos who could be placated by lip service. It worked for him.

  4. Religion doesn’t make you “free,” Romney, you silly goose.
    We all know what truly does make you free.

  5. Riggggght. Like any true conservative has a chance in today’s well-funded left-wing smear atmosphere.

  6. Everything I know about Reagan, I learned from Rev. Ruckus

  7. Riggggght. Like any true conservative has a chance in today’s well-funded left-wing smear atmosphere.

    As soon as any true conservative actually enters the race, we could test your hypothesis, anon.

  8. It is an open, vibrant, tolerant community of more than two dozen disparate nations living in a pan-continental harmony and freedom unseen in all previous European history.

    I take the broader point, but I don’t know if the Serbs and Kosovars got the ‘harmony’ memo.

    I’ll take the under in the bet on whether Europe can go a quarter century without a war on the continent.

  9. I’d also say it’s up for debate on how “free” Europeans are, from a libertarian perspective.

  10. Riggggght. Like any true conservative has a chance in today’s well-funded left-wing smear atmosphere.

    As soon as any true conservative actually enters the race, we could test your hypothesis, anon.

    That, and the appearance of a well-funded left-wing smear atmosphere.

  11. As Christian, Huckabe makes my flesh crawl. I would love to have been able to confront him when he gave that whole “Jesus is responsible for my rise in the polls” bullshit. Really? Does Jesus want you to be President? Was his purpose on earth to provide believers like you with worldly power and goods or to save your rotten stinking sin infested soul from eternal damanation? If Jesus wants you to be President, what does mean Guiliani and Romney and your other opponents? Unbeleivers? Heratics? Infidels? What an ignorant boob.

  12. “That, and the appearance of a well-funded left-wing smear atmosphere.”

    When did his opponents ever engage Reagan on the issues? They just called him a dumb old man and an actor and a war monger and such. If Reagan were alive and running today, I can’t imagine the invective that would be hurled at him. What is depressing is as Noonan rightly points out it wouldn’t just come from the left or the country club “vodood economics” right. It would also come from the likes of the idiotarian religious right and that is just sad.

  13. “As Christian, Huckabe makes my flesh crawl.”

    John, you’re just not drinking the right kind of Jesus juice. That’s what Huckabee said about somebody who disagreed with his immigration policies in Arkansas.

  14. On Romney’s “I am Mormon, hear me roar” stump speech

    More like Romney’s “I am Christian, and gosh darn it, almost a Protestant or Catholic, unless it’s in the South, in which case I’m pert’ near a Southern Baptist, oh, and screw the atheists, at least until the general election” speech.

  15. Did he really say “Jesus Juice”?

  16. Jamie Kelley — Wow. Five posts in, and you’re already busting out the obligatory Godwin violation.

  17. Charles, Hammer of the Krauts

    That’s gold, Michael! Gold!

  18. I’d also say it’s up for debate on how “free” Europeans are, from a libertarian perspective.

    And “tolerant” is up for debate, too, unless you’re one of those liberals who defines tolerance as “being totally free to think like I do”.

  19. Krauthammer is a dipshit. The rise of the EU is on course to rival every concentration of power on the continent since Frederick II.

  20. If the standard by which Europe is to be judged is the as-yet-unrealized paradise of Libertaria, then Europe isn’t very free. But western Europe, and in particular Scandinavia, is probably more free than the United States.

    They pay higher taxes and have more bureaucracy, but they also have a much, much less insane prosecution of the war on drugs, good business environments (The Economist projects that Denmark will have the best business environment in the world over the next five years), and greater social tolerance. I think our shameful prison system alone is probably enough to make us less free western Europe. After all, a country’s penalties for breaking the law can sometimes be more important–and more depressing–than the sheer number of laws on the books.

  21. That, and the appearance of a well-funded left-wing smear atmosphere.

    joe and I agree! Mark the date on your calendar.
    The “left wing smear atmosphere,” as opposed to those humble, nonmonied conservative interests, right, anon?

  22. I was just having a little fun, prolefeed.
    Now to a gas chamber with you!

  23. @John | December 14, 2007, 2:25pm

    QFT! Right on!

  24. I have a question. Does Huckabee go around saying, “I’m your huckleberry”, ? la Val Kilmer in Tombstone? That would be cool, especially if he also dueled opposing candidates.

    Speaking of that, wouldn’t Thunderdome be an excellent way to handle these campaigns? We’d only have to endure all of the losing candidates one time, that way.

  25. “Did he really say “Jesus Juice”?”

    Yes, he did. Read about it at newsmax.com. It’s an article about Ron Paul’s campaign hiring a couple of Arkansas Republican legislators to come to Iowa to tell the people there about how Huckabee governed in Arkansas.

  26. While not quite Barry “Kick Falwell Right in the Ass” Goldwater, Reagan would likely strike those propelling Huckleberry Huckabee to the top of polls in Iowa and New Hampshire as too inattentive to “religious issues.”

    While I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, there are others who don’t. In an interview about their new book, these guys went into great detail about Reagan’s faith, and credit him with the beginning of faith in modern politics. I have problems with their general thesis, however. Audio, sorry.

  27. Jake,

    I don’t know what to say. That is just amazing.

  28. Ashish George

    Have you ever heard an Italian talk about gays, a Frenchman talk about Arabs or a German talk about blacks?

    You might end up questioning the whole “Euros are tolerant” schtick if you had.

    Note too that approval for the death penalty runs about the same as here.

    And prison terms might be shorter but considering the conditions one finds in prisons (except Scandinavia) it’s questionable about how much difference is there.

    There is a world of difference between the ruling elites and Joe Sixpack. Joe just knows he needs to stay in his place and his betters will take care of him.

    But Krauthammer is correct. Western Europe contains about a much higher degree of personal liberty than just about everywhere else on the planet.

  29. Those guys are full of crap Paul. No one who is an evangelical bible thumper would become an actor. You become an actor for the same reason you join a rock band; to get laid. Don’t think for a minute that Hollywood back in Reagan’s day was not more decadent than it is now. They just had more class and weren’t so damned vulger about it.

  30. Jake,

    “I don’t know what to say. That is just amazing.”

    He is definitely playing the religion card. Look at how he is telling people that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. It’s not true, but even if it were true, what difference would it make? Are we to make our voting decisions on what candidates’ religious views or on what their political views are? I think Huckabee has interjected religion into this race more than any previous candidate including George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

  31. John: Mine own Christian flesh doth crawl as well.

    And I do know what to say about the Jesus juice comment: Dumbass hillbilly. Dumbass rednecks don’t bother me atall, but I can’t stand a dumbass redneck.

  32. Naturally in Europe you will not run afoul of their identity card laws unless maybe you are swarthier complected.

    Nor will you run afoul of their complete lack of anything resembling the First amndt unless your a troublemaker or a holocaust denier.

    So, yes, freedom is relative.

  33. No one who is an evangelical bible thumper would become an actor.

    You’re absolutely right, John.
    So very, very right.

  34. I don’t think Mel qualifies as an evangelical bible thumper. He’s more a cultish Catholic.

    I think of all the flavors of Protestantism, Baptist ministers are uniquely unqualifed and unsuited to political office. I speak as a someone who was Baptist raised (I’m now a Catholic-Baptist hybrid. A Cafeteria Bapolic, if you will.)

  35. Look at how he is telling people that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. It’s not true….

    Actually, technically, it is, in that according to Mormons we are all children of our Heavenly Father and hence all brothers and sisters. That includes Jesus, Lucifer, you, me and even Huckaby.

    However, for Huckaby to take it out of context like that is….well….pure Hucksterism.

  36. “No one who is an evangelical bible thumper would become an actor.”

    Mel Gibson, Charlton Heston, Efren Zimblist Jr.

  37. Jamie,

    Gibson wasn’t a hard core Catholic when he started. I suppose Andy Griffith is the exception that proves the rule.

  38. You might end up questioning the whole “Euros are tolerant” schtick if you had.

    We already do.

  39. John Wayne was a fag.

  40. Plus, Europeans are hardly tolerant of Americans. Unless, of course, those Europeans are in America.

  41. I don’t think Mel qualifies as an evangelical bible thumper.

    Well, he wants you to be Catholic, or at least his brand of the faith. And sure, he thumps a Roman bible, but fuck it, it’s still a bible.

  42. You become an actor for the same reason you join a rock band; to get laid.

    I’ve heard, though I may be crazy, that some actors started acting because they love to act and some rock musicians love to play music.

  43. “John Wayne was a fag.”

    I’ve heard that before, but is there any evidence for it?

  44. That would be cool, especially if [Huckabee] also dueled opposing candidates.

    Yeah. And lost.

  45. Rattlesnake Jake,

    You’re supposed to respond “The hell he was!”

  46. “I’ve heard, though I may be crazy, that some actors started acting because they love to act and some rock musicians love to play music.”

    Yeah some do. Their called gay musicians and actors.

  47. “John Wayne was a fag.”

    I’ve heard that before, but is there any evidence for it?

    “Come here, pilgrim.” Ever have a guy say that to you in bed? The words still haunt me.

  48. Rattlesnake Jake,

    Don’t know, but I’ve heard someone around here saw Wayne in a dress while installing mirror’s at his house or something.

  49. John,

    HA! Sorry, I thought you were being serious at first.

  50. “Don’t know, but I’ve heard someone around here saw Wayne in a dress while installing mirror’s at his house or something.”

    Thanks for ruining my weekend. Now I can’t get that image out of my mind.

  51. Rattlesnake Jake,

    This video may help.

  52. Didn’t Reagan also sign the first state law legalizing abortion? Signing that bill would’ve killed his candidacy.

  53. “John,

    HA! Sorry, I thought you were being serious at first”

    Yeah I was kidding. But I would imagine Ronny got around a little bit back in the day. Everyone did.

  54. Actually, technically, it is, in that according to Mormons we are all children of our Heavenly Father and hence all brothers and sisters. That includes Jesus, Lucifer, you, me and even Huckaby.

    I deny any family connection between me and Mike Huckabee.

    My standards may be infernally low, but not that low.

  55. On Europe vs. America, I’ll take neither. I’d take Hong Kong, Singapore (at least in economics, not its authoritarian political system) or South Korea over any of them.

  56. It’s true Ronald Reagan signed a bill liberalizing abortion law, but then he, like me, decided that abortion is murder. I’m afraid if you want to elect someone who has never changed his mind on an issue then you can’t support him or me. And that’s ironic because I’ve both opposed (when running for office in an anti-Reagan state) and supported Reagan’s legacy (when running for office in a nomination contest where most voters are pro-Reagan) itself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pVqZzHm3Z4

    Vote for me, I represent your positions on the issues, and if that is not true I can change them!

  57. “On Europe vs. America, I’ll take neither. I’d take Hong Kong, Singapore (at least in economics, not its authoritarian political system) or South Korea over any of them.”

    Have you ever actually been to South Korea? If you are not a Korean you are lower than dogshit in that country. No thank you. As far as Singapore goes, I am not sure there is a more boring place on earth.

  58. Have you ever actually been to South Korea? If you are not a Korean you are lower than dogshit in that country. No thank you. As far as Singapore goes, I am not sure there is a more boring place on earth.

    I was speaking of the business climate/economics more than social policy. If we’re talking social policy, I’ll take Holland.

  59. That is, Dutch social tolerance and Hong Kong economics. That should be about right.

  60. In addition, I promise to change the mascot of of the GOP from the foriegn symbol of the elephant to a noble beast found right off this great and religious nation’s coasts, whose very name embodies my character: Flipper the Dolphin.

    Remember, like noble Flipper I’m swimming your way, and if not I can change course to do so!

  61. “As far as Singapore goes, I am not sure there is a more boring place on earth.”

    It’s boring unless you’re getting beat by a cane.

  62. At least Singapore is honest about the drug war. You either have to legalize drugs (my preferred solution on philosophical and humanitarian grounds) or make the penalties so harsh no one will dark ever smoke a joint. Anything in between is a cluster fuck.

  63. “Actually, technically, it is, in that according to Mormons we are all children of our Heavenly Father and hence all brothers and sisters. That includes Jesus, Lucifer, you, me and even Huckaby.”

    I resent people bringing the faith of my fathers into this campaign? What ever happened to religiou tolerance? And btw, I accept Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind and the Son of God.

  64. Have you ever actually been to South Korea? If you are not a Korean you are lower than dogshit in that country. No thank you.

    I have. I liked the people, especially the women. The locals were a lot friendlier than many places I’ve been. The food, not so much.

  65. Singapore is less boring for those primarily concerned with pulling sizable incomes.

  66. Let’s not get carried away here. Europe is surely freer than many (probably most) parts of the world, but freedom is not relative like rich and poor. I’m not saying that Romney’s not a fool (because he is) … only that the so-called takedown in the WaPo is pretty weak.

  67. “I have. I liked the people, especially the women. The locals were a lot friendlier than many places I’ve been. The food, not so much.”

    I have to and I like the Koreans. What I love about Korea is that it disproves every leftist bullshit myth about thrid world countries. No country in history has been a worse victim of colonialism than Korea. It was completely raped by the Japanese. Then when it finally threw off the Japanese yoke, it was invaded by communists and suffered through one of the worst wars of the last half of the 20th Century. IN 1953 it was totally devistated by war and poorer than Hati is today. Now, 54 years later, it is one of the richest countries on earth. You have to respect the Koreans.

    That said, while it is nice to be a tourist there, I would never even pretend to be an accepted part of society.

  68. de stijl | December 14, 2007, 3:29pm | #

    John Wayne was a fag.

    “He was too you Boys! I installed two-way mirrors in his pad in Brentwood– and he come to the door in a dress”

  69. Excuse me, but I’m going to have to measure the curvature of that banana.

  70. John, I like to think that in 1955 Naomi Klein would have been moaning about how the South Koreans were being subjected to “Disaster Capitalism”.

  71. When did his opponents ever engage Reagan on the issues?

    1986 tax reform. One of the best examples of effective, positive bipartisanship in history.

    Also, Reagan and Tip O’Neil had a famously good relationship.

  72. The locals were a lot friendlier than many places I’ve been. The food, not so much.

    So, J sub D, which places have the friendliest food? No fair counting the Japanese sushi bars where the food is placed on a naked young nubile woman. 😉

  73. A quick question.. with regard to Europe.. How many people here have actually lived there?

    I’m betting some.. but having lived in Germany for three years, I’d say that it was reasonably “free” and tolerant.. Perhaps not as much as it might be in say, NYCity or Montana(although both of those are “free” in different ways to different kinds of people).. but more so than say, living in rural Indiana and not being religious… (or being black…)..

    Which brings up a pet peeve of mine… Speaking about “Europeans” or even “Western Europeans” as if they all act the same way–despite the existence of the EU–is kinda bizarre. “North Americans” (US, Canada, Mexico) don’t all behave the same way or live under the same circumstances.. so speaking about Europeans this way is not the most cogent thing to do..

    In any case.. the main point was about Romney trying to state that you had to have religion in order to be free.. and does anyone here actually think that is true?

  74. I lived in England for a while, and yes, I think there’s religious tolerance in Europe. (Just like here, though, there are regional variations. My friend who studied in Shropshire said it was deeply religious and right-wing.)

    Religious tolerance is different in different places, though. French people I’ve talked to feel strongly that you shouldn’t persecute anybody for his religion — but they also think religion is private and they don’t want to see too many public manifestations of it. I’m generalizing my own experience, but it seems like the American response to meeting someone of a different religion is “Wow, tell me about it” and the French response is “Cool, that’s your business.”

    Do you need religion to be free? I can’t even imagine the mindset of someone who thinks that.

  75. Dumbass rednecks don’t bother me atall, but I can’t stand a dumbass redneck.

    Fair enough.

  76. Poor little Peggy Noonan.

    What she helped create, promote, and manipulate has morphed into something that no longer stays within the confines or purposes that she and her ilk initially designated for it.

    NOW she’s disquieted by what she helped enable.

    Had she actually READ that Bible that she used clever quotes in speeches to help Republicans win, she’d have known better.

    Reap what you sowed, Peggy.

    Personal responsibility isn’t just something you use to judge others while gushing, sighing, and flinging your hair.

    Own petard, and all that.

  77. So, J sub D, which places have the friendliest food? No fair counting the Japanese sushi bars where the food is placed on a naked young nubile woman. 😉

    Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia excepting breakfast. That’s off the top of my head.

  78. Given Mitt’s endorsement by NR, “I am Mormon, hear me roar” needs refraction through the prism of National Review Online’s long running Star Trek fetish.

    In their belief system, Romnians are not to be despised as Latter Day Klingons who refuse to drink blood wine, for in the ecumenical future, they might catalyze the reunion of the Romulan Catholic Church and the Hassidic Vulcans.

  79. Speaking about “Europeans” or even “Western Europeans” as if they all act the same way–despite the existence of the EU–is kinda bizarre.

    So is speaking about “Americans” which many Canadians, Australians and Europeans feel free to do, in spite of the fact that there is certainly more diversity between and even within cities, states and regions than any of the first two and certainly in any of the individual countries that make up Europe.

    Hey, J sub D, what’s wrong with Australian breakfasts? My recollection is that breakfasts were great but that the rest of the day’s meals were blah, but that changed in the late 60s. Although the “New Australians” certainly started making their mark as they started arriving in droves after WWII. But that started in the big cities and took a while to become universal.

  80. Reagan would likely strike those propelling Huckleberry Huckabee to the top of polls in Iowa and New Hampshire…

    Whoa there. While Iowa is chuck full of folkses that believe every word in the bible as the everlasting truth (despite the fact that they never actually read it). The freedom loving people in the granite state aren’t so smitten with “Hell in a handbasket Huck”

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