While some Republicans content themselves with self-gratifying conspiracy theories in which the "liberal" media stole the presidential election by suppressing the damning information about Senator Obama that everyone knows about, others are battling to blame one another for Senator McCain's defeat. In the latest round, Kathleen Parker, one of the conservatives who dared speak out against Governor Palin, has claimed credit for a huge jump in Google search results for the phrase "oogedy boogedy" -- the term she uses to describe the off-putting quality of much of the "Religious Right" for non-ideological voters. She reports this weekend that the faithful have waxed wroth against her for suggesting that Republicans should downplay the faith element. She answers with an argument that Obama himself has used: conservatives should be able to argue their positions without appealing to divine authority. She cites an anti-abortion secular humanist as an example of what she's looking for. She also emphasizes that her problem isn't so much with religion as with its self-appointed representatives, who in her mind are still the televangelical ogres of the 1980s.
The odd thing about this is that I didn't think the religious right was that big a factor in the presidential campaign. However many of them may have liked Palin, I suspect that most of their passion was spent when Gov. Huckabee dropped out of the Republican race. More likely, much of it was diverted to the anti-homosexual initiatives that prevailed in several states, including some in which Obama won. It may be, however ironic this might seem, that the controversy over Rev. Wright may have earned Obama some respect and ultimate neutrality from believers who empathized with pastors coming in for criticism for their controversial beliefs and judgments.
Some Republicans point to the success of the anti-gay initiatives as proof that McCain should have done more to rally the Religious Right to his side. At the same time, those votes have alerted liberals to the persistent danger of the fundies. In California, the conflict drew bad blood which Republican scribe Jonah Goldberg describes as a bigoted attack on Mormons. The Saints, apparently, played a big role in support of the anti-gay proposition, and opponents of it made an explicitly anti-Mormon commercial during the campaign. Goldberg sees this as equivalent to anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Politically correct people would tolerate neither, he claims, so they ought to denounce an attack on Mormons. I see his point, but I don't think he gets the point of the commercial. Working from his description alone, I assume that Mormons are being condemned for homophobia, and if the Saints are doctrinally homophobic, then it's fair for others to say so. But here's the actual ad:
I think it's unfair to this extent: it singles Mormons out as if they were the prime movers of the agitation for Proposition 8. But I don't doubt that conservative Christians, Muslims and Jews did their part as well. A better commercial would have been more ecumenical. Keep a stock Mormon in his missionary uniform, but throw in an "oogedy boogedy" Christian, a bearded bin Laden-like Muslim, and a creepy rabbi, the point being that they'd all like to reduce our rights if they could get away with it. The more completely anticlerical a campaign gets, the more likely insecure Republicans will be to keep up their own divisive debates over religion in politics. How could that go wrong? If you think that the Religious Right should be driven out of politics, then the least you can do is keep up the pressure that's making Republicans crack.