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“An Ethical Philistine”: Why Trump Leads Among Evangelical Voters — Even Though He’s A Religious Illiterate

In the fun-house-mirror dynamics of the 2016 presidential contest, one of the more regularly hilarious images is of Donald J. Trump trying to pander to conservative Evangelical Christians.

Back in July at the summer’s preeminent Christian-right event in Iowa, under questioning from Frank Luntz, Trump famously seemed puzzled that anyone would think he needed to ask God’s forgiveness, and deferred instead to the cleansing power of “my little cracker” and “my little wine,” a.k.a., Communion or, as Catholics and some mainline Protestants would call it, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He rambled through other arguably offensive religious observations (his theological beau ideal, Norman Vincent Peale, is most decidedly not in fashion with any variety of American Christian at present), most of which were submerged in the furor over his disrespecting of John McCain’s war service.

As part of the mainstream media’s confusion over the characteristics of the Trump electorate, there were a few alarms sent up about the Donald’s “base” being Evangelicals, until first Ben Carson and then Ted Cruz came along to challenge his support levels in this demographic. But according to a New York Times/CBS national survey released early last week, Trump remains the leader among Evangelicals, with 42 percent as compared to Ted Cruz’s 25 percent.

Yet he continues to make buffoonish mistakes. Making the obligatory rounds at a Liberty University convocation over the weekend, Trump tried to quote Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, more colloquially referred to as “Second Corinthians.” He called it “Two Corinthians,” showing how little time he’s sat in a pew listening to a Scripture reading. And instead of going to the trouble of negotiating the complicated logic of the Christian right’s position on “religious liberty,” which often seems like compulsory religion to many secular and religious folk alike, Trump cut right to the crudest possible “War on Christmas” chase:

“If I’m president, you’re going to see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me.”

I’m sure the company of saints will cheer.

Still, Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr. gave Trump a fulsome introduction. And when word leaked out that the tycoon is unveiling an important endorsement in Iowa today, Falwell’s name was the first to surface in speculation before it was displaced by another Christian-right favorite, Sarah Palin.

So how can conservative Evangelicals rationalize their fondness for a man who isn’t even up to the task of pandering to them?

The key to this phenomenon is to understand that the touchstone of the Christian right has always been the semi-divinization of cultural conservatism, and the identification of the Kingdom of God with the patriarchal and puritanical (and sometimes racist) America of the 19th century. So any politician vocally fighting against cultural change, like Donald J. Trump, is objectively a Christian soldier even if he is a religious illiterate and an ethical philistine. This is precisely how conservative Christians have in the past let themselves be recruited into the camps of other highly secular demagogues, from the proto-fascists of the 1930s to the church-y and Bible-quoting segregationists of the civil-rights era.

To their credit, most conservative Evangelical leaders seem to dislike Trump for reasons ranging from his personal ethics to his hateful attitudes toward immigrants; Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore has issued repeated jeremiads warning the faithful against this false prophet. It may well be that Trump’s Evangelical following is mostly not that observant. But so long as religious leaders and their political allies treat cultural change as demonic, and people different from them as Satan’s spawn, then they cannot plead complete innocence when their flocks follow the loudest voice of protest and ask for little other than lip service to faith itself.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 19, 2016

January 23, 2016 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Donald Trump, Evangelicals | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Christian Candidate”: The Republican Formula To Snag Christian Votes Is Unraveling

Mike Huckabee is not happy.

Once a rising star in the Republican Party who successfully leveraged his background as a pastor for political advantage, Huckabee’s 2016 presidential run has proved a disappointing sequel to his respectable third place showing in 2008. With underwhelming fundraising numbers and a bump to the kiddy table after the third GOP debate, most voters are no longer paying attention to the former governor’s campaign.

But perhaps the cruelest blow is that many conservative evangelical leaders and organizations have jumped ship, ignoring Huckabee in favor of contenders like Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Asked about this betrayal in a radio interview, Huckabee struck back. “A lot of them, quite frankly, I think they’re scared to death that if a guy like me got elected, I would actually do what I said I would do,” he alleged — and that would be bad for business.

“A lot of these organizations wouldn’t have the ability to do urgent fundraising because if we slay the dragon, what dragon do they continue to fight?” Huckabee continued, “And so, for many of them, [my victory] could be a real detriment to their organization’s abilities to gin up their supporters and raise the contributions.”

Huckabee pressed on to the final blow: Conservative evangelicals who don’t support him must be motivated by “secular” concerns like personal gain, because if they were truly acting in faith and prayer, they’d support him over their current candidates of choice.

In other words, if they weren’t so sinful, they’d listen to God and vote Huck.

Huckabee’s expression of his frustration is uncivil and theologically suspect, but from a political perspective the frustration is reasonable. After all, the formula to be the GOP’s “Christian candidate” used to be pretty straightforward: Give special attention to culture war issues like gay marriage, school prayer, and abortion; invoke God and scripture regularly; and tell your faith story in a compelling manner. This worked for Huckabee in 2008, just as it worked in 2012 for another 2016 also-ran, Rick Santorum.

But these days there are a lot of candidates trying to capture the GOP evangelical vote. And their success doesn’t seem to have much to do with their actual faith. Witness Cruz, for example, who quotes liberally from the Bible on the stump. His campaign asks supporters to join his national prayer team so there’s a “direct line of communication between our campaign and the thousands of Americans who are lifting us up before the Lord.” (The sign-up form also includes a box you can tick if you “publicly endorse Senator Ted Cruz for President!”)

While the Cruz camp insists there’s no “political or tactical angle” to joining the prayer team, their candidate’s public prayer requests all but equate his own electoral victory with divine salvation for America. Cruz even has the audacity to call his candidacy a “revival” and “awakening” — as in, the Great Awakenings — and many Christian audiences are eating it up.

Marco Rubio is trying to follow the formula too. In a recent campaign ad, for example, Rubio recites a string of Christian catchphrases and biblical allusions so generic that they offer zero insight into his personal faith.

And then there’s Donald Trump, who is interested in the evangelical vote formula exactly insofar as it helps him be the best, hugest, most successful candidate ever — and no farther. Trump knows he needs to say some Christian stuff, but he’s doing the absolute minimum to pass this test.

I know this because that’s what he word-vomited at a rally in Iowa the last week in December. “I even brought my Bible — the evangelicals, OK?” Trump said. “We love the evangelicals and we’re polling so well.”

In case the point of waving around the Bible wasn’t perfectly clear, he added one more time: “I really want to win Iowa — and again, the evangelicals, the Tea Party — we’re doing unbelievably, and I think I’m going to win Iowa.”

Trump’s transparent pandering has been controversial among conservative evangelicals but oddly successful. To be sure, many Christians, including yours truly, have questioned or criticized Trump’s candidacy on moral grounds. Writing at The New York Times, for instance, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore argued that for evangelical Christians to support Trump means “we’ve decided to join the other side of the culture war, that image and celebrity and money and power and social Darwinist ‘winning’ trump the conservation of moral principles and a just society. To back Mr. Trump,” Moore summarized, “[evangelical] voters must repudiate everything they believe.”

But polls consistently find Trump at or near the top of evangelical Republicans’ list, so his pandering seems to work.

Huckabee’s outburst and Trump’s farce are two sides of the same phenomenon: the inevitable unraveling of an election dynamic that has become too absurd a caricature to continue. While Cruz seems on track to execute a classic fulfillment of the “Christian candidate” formula, his performance may well be one of the last of its kind. Huckabee might be right: The best GOP candidate for conservative Christians’ political goals may not be the best actual Christian.

That may seem like a frightening prospect for a post-Obama Republican Party searching for its identity as it loses demographic ground. But however the next few elections shake out, disintegration of the GOP’s wrong-headed obsession with the “Christian candidate” is much overdue.

 

By: Bonnie Kristian, The Week, January 18, 2016

January 22, 2016 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Evangelicals, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Two Corinthians Footsoldiers”: Trump Pledges To Make God Great Again

Evangelicals weren’t supposed to like Donald Trump. He’s boasted about never asking God for forgiveness, exhibited total biblical illiteracy, and had as many wives as an Old Testament patriarch.

But none of that matters. When the billionaire mogul spoke at Liberty University this morning, he got a rapturous welcome that showed just how much evangelicals love him—and why. The obsequiously warm reception he received may upend conventional wisdom about what conservative Christians want from their presidential candidates. And that’s great news for Trump.

Fox News morning programming warmed up the 11,000-strong crowd, and then the university’s hipster Christian worship band led students in song.

“We worship you today because you’re the great celebrity in this place,” prayed David Nasser, the school’s senior vice president for spiritual development, addressing God.

The boisterous crowd—some of whom woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get good seats—proceeded to worship Trump.

Trump’s performance certainly drew some sneers, especially when an attempt to pander fell flat after Trump mispronounced a biblical reference as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.” But despite that, his overwhelmingly warm reception confirms that he’s just as competitive as any other Republican among evangelical Christian voters.

This was not always obvious. Many conservative Christian power-brokers—including Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention—have harshly criticized Trump. And his calls for barring Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. worried many conservative Christians who prioritize issues of religious freedom. But that doesn’t matter.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the university president and son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, introduced Trump to the crowd and left no doubt about his feelings for the golden-haired mogul.

“In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment,” he said.

Then he compared Trump to Reagan.

“My father was criticized in the early 1980s for supporting Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter for president, I should say, because Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor who had been divorced and remarried, and Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher,” Falwell said. “My father proudly replied that Jesus pointed out that we are all sinners, every one of us.

“Jimmy Carter was a great Sunday School teacher,” Falwell added, “but look what happened to our nation with him in the presidency.”

The implication was clear as a bell: Evangelical Christians shouldn’t stress about Trump’s personal life.

But Falwell didn’t just compare Trump to Reagan; he also said Trump reminded him of his father, generous and pragmatic. And he compared Trump’s presidential campaign to the university itself.

“I’m proud that Liberty is now strong enough financially to refuse gifts if they come with objectionable conditions,” he said. “And it is clear to me that Donald Trump is the only candidate in this national election to make that same claim. He cannot be bought. He is not a puppet on a string like many other candidates—”

The crowd erupted in cheers.

“He is not a puppet on a string like many other candidates who have wealthy donors as their puppet masters,” he continued, essentially indicting the entire rest of the Republican field.

The Trump/Liberty love is a mutual one. After sauntering on stage to sustained applause, Trump announced that the turnout at the event was a new record for a Liberty University convocation—perhaps unaware that student attendance at these weekly meetings is mandatory—and said he would dedicate the impressive feat to Martin Luther King Jr.

Seriously.

A spokeswoman for the university said 11,000 people attended the event and did not confirm if Trump actually broke a record or what the previous record was.

Trump said that being compared to Jerry Falwell the elder was “really an honor for me.” Then he reiterated his promise that department stores will say Merry Christmas if he becomes president (Christians love that, you know).

“I have friends that aren’t Christian,” he noted. “They like to say Merry Christmas, they love it, everybody loves it.”

He also noted that he is a big fan of the Bible, saying it is the only book to top The Art of the Deal.

“Everybody read The Art of the Deal,” he said. “Who has read The Art of the Deal in this room? Everybody. I always say, a deep deep second to the Bible.

“The Bible blows it away,” he added. “There’s nothing like the Bible.”

He spent the bulk of the speech talking about Iran, the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS, and the sad mendacity of the national media (“Twenty-five percent are good. Two percent are great.”). Said sad national media, he argued, has failed to report on just how much support Trump has won.

“You’re not getting a real picture of the silent majority, which Jerry Sr. had something to do,” he said. “And that’s a phrase you should be really cognizant of. Because it is a silent majority, but I think I’m gonna up it a little bit because it’s no longer so silent. It’s really a noisy majority.”

Trump wasn’t especially articulate there, but the appeal was clear: His success isn’t a fluke. Rather, the implication was that Trump’s supporters come from a long tradition of grassroots conservatives who seek to use the political process to change cultural norms (see Christmas, War On).

And Trump’s pitch was perfect.

“He spoke to the Liberty audience and culture almost as if he was a part of it,” said Johnnie Moore, former senior vice president at the school, “as if he had been a part of it—a graduate or an alumnus or someone who had had kids go there.”

Moore said that’s because—despite his “Two Corinthians” flub—he came off as authentic.

“Not a single person in that crowd this morning thought, I wonder if he’s lying to me,” Moore said.

He noted that evangelical Christians have two basic approaches to politics: Some want candidates to have as much in common with them as possible—they embrace long-shot contenders like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum because they share their identical convictions about Christianity’s role in public life. The Falwells aren’t in that school of thought. Rather, they like winners, even if that means backing candidates who used to be pro-choice and have a few divorces under their belt. That’s why Jerry Falwell Sr. made good with John McCain after the Arizonan called him an “agent of intolerance,” and it’s why their family was so undyingly loyal to the Bushes—even as George H. W. Bush struggled to win evangelical support.

The Falwell family hasn’t lost its single-minded interest in winning, and that’s why Jerry Jr. had such kind words for Trump.

“It was clear that he would be extremely comfortable if Trump was the candidate,” Moore said.

This should surprise no one. In 2012, a few months before Obama’s re-election, Trump spoke at the university for the first time. Jerry Jr. praised his most controversial stances in an affectionate introduction.

“In 2011, after failed attempts by Senator John McCain and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump singlehandedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate,” Falwell said, dead serious. And the students roared.

Trump’s speech that year was a little bawdier; he encouraged students to get prenups (“I won’t say it here because you people don’t get divorced, right? Nobody gets divorced! OK, so I will not say have a prenuptial agreement to anybody in this room!”) and he stirred controversy by telling them to “get even” with people who wrong them. Luke 6:29 definitely isn’t Trump’s favorite Bible verse.

Despite that, Jerry Falwell Jr. practically begged him to run.

“It’s not too late to get back in the presidential race, is it?” Falwell said after that 2012 speech.

And now Trump is in, and Falwell seems to love it. This puts him a bit at odds with other evangelical leaders; a coterie of conservative Christian influencers secretly agreed last month to coalesce behind Ted Cruz, as National Review reported. But Falwell is hedging. Cruz, who announced his presidential campaign last year in the same room where Trump spoke, might be more faithful than Trump, and he might not have been married a bunch of times, and he might have that neat Harvard Law degree. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a winner.

Students at the school shared Falwell’s energy for the candidate. Five bros wore shirts that spelled out the word TRUMP—one letter per T-shirt—and spent the time before the event posing for photos and fielding media questions. Others woke up early to get front-row seats for the mogul’s speech.

Christian Malave, a student at the university, said he likes Trump’s attitude.

“He just thinks about everyone before himself,” he said. “And yet he has the most money in the world.”

Sophomore Emma Jerore and Freshman Mary-Madison Goforth said they were in line for the speech by 6 a.m. so they could get good seats.

“He’s a very wise businessman,” Goforth said.

Jerore said she is trying to pick between Rubio and Trump. Goforth said she faced the same dilemma.

“Today definitely motivated me a little more towards Trump’s side,” she said.

“We both got to shake his hand, so that was, I mean, enough in itself,” she added.

A number of students said they were trying to decide between Trump and Cruz. Brian Teague, a sophomore studying aviation who sported a Trump T-shirt, said Carson lost support when news broke in early December that he doesn’t believe in hell.

“A lot of people were leaning towards him because he was so humble, you know, his morals,” Teague said. “But when he left the idea of hell, I think that’s when he lost a lot of people.”

That said, Liberty isn’t all Trumpkins. Caleb Fitzpatrick, a freshman from Tampa, Florida, said he thinks the billionaire is the worst Republican candidate.

“I think he has no idea what’s going on in the world,” he said. “I think he’s arrogant, I think he’s a narcissist, I think he’s perverted.”

Still, students gave Trump an adoring welcome. If Trump wants to build a new moral majority, he’ll know where to find footsoldiers.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, January 18, 2016

January 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Evangelicals, Jerry Falwell Jr, Liberty University | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“How Trump Beats Cruz”: Define Cruz As Just Another Politician Controlled By Special Interests

Sen Ted Cruz is poised for launch. He has the money, the ground game, and Iowa in his pocket. Conservatives love him, and trust him; the party establishment will fall in line if the choice is between him and Donald Trump. Both Cruz and Trump are each (a bit self-servingly, of course) predicting that’s the choice Republican voters will have to make down the stretch. If it plays out that way, the pressure will be on Trump to halt Cruz’s momentum out of Iowa before the contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and the rest of the Southern swing in early March.

Is there any message Trump could use to stop Cruz? There’s a pretty strong one, in fact. It’s one that undercuts Cruz’s central appeal as an “outsider” while reinforcing Trump’s central appeal as a right-wing populist. It portrays Cruz as another double-dealing politician and Trump as the guy who “tells it like it is,” so to speak, and it pits Cruz as a representative of the elite, coastal Republican class against which Trump’s campaign has sparked a working-class rebellion.

Trump can define Cruz as a Wall Street lackey, bought and paid-for by special interests, who will turn his back on the priorities of their overlapping base as soon as he’s in the Oval Office.

Cruz’s money doesn’t come from nowhere. According to a Yahoo Finance analysis in mid-November, 18.6 percent of the money backing Cruz—as in, campaign and super PAC contributions—comes from the financial industry. That was the fourth highest percentage of all presidential candidates, behind Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Sen. Lindsey Graham; in terms of hard dollars ($12.1 million), it was second only to Bush ($35.3 million.) Bush makes no bones about representing the will of the GOP donor class. Cruz does.

Cruz has raised some $38.6 million dollars in outside money, mostly through a set of four super PACs to which New York hedge fund manager Robert Mercer serves as ringleader. Major law firms, investments banks, and energy groups dominate his industry breakdown of his largesse. It is also worth acknowledging that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is on leave from her job as a Goldman Sachs executive during her husband’s presidential campaign.

How has Cruz hoovered up all of this money, despite frequently bashing “billionaire Republican donors” who “look down on [Republican] voters as a bunch of ignorant hicks and rubes”? It may just be that Cruz has a different tone when addressing donors than he does with the God-fearing Heartland patriots of rhetorical lore. That would make him like most other representatives of the “political class,” but being separate and apart from those vipers is critical to Cruz’s image.

Consider the issue of gay marriage. Big Republican donors in New York love gay marriage. Cruz himself has pointed this out, most vividly in a Senate floor speech he delivered in September:

I can tell you when you sit down and talk with a New York billionaire Republican donor—and I have talked with quite a few New York billionaire Republican donors, California Republican donors, their questions start out as follows. First of all, you’ve got to come out for gay marriage, you need to be pro-choice, and you need to support amnesty. That’s where the Republican donors are. You wonder why Republicans won’t fight on any of these issues? Because the people writing the checks agree with the Democrats.

Thanks to some audio that Politico scooped up, we now have direct evidence of what Cruz says to “New York billionaire Republican donors”—or at least donors well-heeled enough pay four or five figures to attend a luncheon—regarding same-sex marriage. One question posed to Cruz at a December fundraiser, hosted by the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, went as follows: “So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you—fighting gay marriage?”

“No,” Cruz said. “I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum—whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty.

“I also think the 10th Amendment of the Constitution cuts across a whole lot of issues and can bring people together,” he continued. “People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio. … That’s why we have 50 states—to allow a diversity of views.” The donor who asked the question, apparently content to learn that stripping same-sex couples of their newfound constitutional right might be a top-five or top-10 concern but certainly not a top-three concern, told Cruz, “Thanks. Good luck.”

This is not a flip-flop. Cruz’s position on same-sex marriage throughout the campaign has been a constitutional amendment “to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws,” an amendment he introduced in Congress last year. In other words: He would leave it to state legislatures, as he explained in his answer at the fundraiser.

But good God, the shift in tone! Cruz made a show of offering the most vociferous response to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage this summer. In a piece for National Review, Cruz wrote that the decision “undermines not just the definition of marriage, but the very foundations of our representative form of government.” On Sean Hannity’s radio show, Cruz declared that the same-sex marriage decision, along with the previous day’s Affordable Care Act decision, marked “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.” He reiterated his call for a constitutional amendment, and went further by calling for judicial retention elections as a check on the “lawlessness of the court.”

That was cleverly designed to appeal to evangelical voters of Iowa who both disapprove of same-sex marriage and, a few years ago, led a successful campaign to vote out the state Supreme Court justices who had legalized same-sex marriage there. Cruz now has Iowa evangelicals wrapped around his finger. Even though he didn’t confess to a changed position in the fundraiser tape, do you think those voters will appreciate hearing about how Cruz told wealthy New York socially liberal donors that reversing the right to same-sex marriage isn’t one of his top priorities? Cruz has worked doggedly to win the trust of evangelicals, so this alone won’t do him in. But Mike Huckabee, at least, considers these fighting words, and don’t be surprised to hear Rick Santorum or another lagging Iowa candidate jump into the fray next.

There’s also the case of Cruz’s shifting positions on legal immigration. For a while, Cruz was an ardent supporter of markedly increasing the number of H-1B visas for skilled workers, a policy which wealthy donors applaud. That, however, was before Trump dragged the debate into overtly nativist territory. Cruz’s immigration plan now calls for a six-month suspension of the H-1B program and to “halt any increases in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high.”

Is this what his team is saying behind closed doors, though? In a meeting with Hispanic Republican leaders last week, Cruz campaign chairman Chad Sweet “repeatedly told the group Cruz wants to be the champion of legal immigration,” according to Republican immigration advocate Alfonso Aguilar, who was in the room. According to Aguilar, Sweet “said there’s no better friend than Ted Cruz to legal immigration.” This is the line that Cruz frequently used to describe his legal immigration platform, before he changed his position. Is he still using it in private, when the audience is right?

One of Trump’s most appealing traits to voters is that he cannot be bought, doesn’t need to raise money, and doesn’t need to curry favor in private with select interest groups. If he needed to court big-dollar donors, you wouldn’t hear him railing on so unreservedly against immigration or free trade or cuts to federal entitlement programs. As David Frum writes in a lengthy Atlantic piece this month, Trump has blown wide open the long-simmering feud between GOP elites, who typically control the party’s presidential nominating process, and GOP working-class voters, who have always fallen in line.

In Cruz, Trump has a foil who fits neatly into his narrative of the enemy career politician subservient to powerful interests. Cruz has done a good job keeping a lid on the lucrative big-dollar fundraising connections that might complicate his narrative as the consummate “outsider.” Expect Trump, a human bullhorn, to change that.

 

By: Jim Newell, Slate, December 23, 2015

December 28, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Evangelicals, Special Interest Groups | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Oh Please!”: Huckabee Peers Up At Cruz In The Polls, Attacks Him For Lack Of Hysteria On Marriage Equality

In one of the more, er, interesting Invisible Primary diversions of the holiday season, on Wednesday Politico‘s Mike Allen tried to win the morning with a breathless report that Texas senator Ted Cruz told a private “moderate” fund-raising audience in sinful New York that rolling back marriage equality would not be a “top-three” priority. Allen found out about this shocking indiscretion via a “secret tape” sent to him by a shocked witness.

Truth is that in the same breath Cruz folded the fight against marriage equality into his “top priority,” which he describes as “defending the Constitution.” He also reminded listeners that he has long favored letting the states set marriage policies, as they generally do subject to constitutional conditions.

Not to put too fine a gloss on it, Mike Allen manufactured a “controversy” out of this nothing-burger of a quote, presumably because it could get the recently high-flying Cruz in trouble both with Christian Right activists ever alert to their issues sliding down the priority list, and with Republican voters concerned with “authenticity.” Cruz, you see, has always raised suspicions that he’s a sort of an Elmer Gantry figure, a slick Ivy Leaguer pulling the wool over the eyes of the Folks.

Personally, I think such charges have it backwards; if anyone’s getting zoomed by Ted Cruz, it’s the sophisticates who think he would be a regular old-school Republican if elected president. But that’s probably because I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the apocalyptic ravings of his favorite warm-up act and father, the Reverend Ted Cruz.

So far the only fallout from the Cruz/Allen “scandal” is the understandable reaction of Mike Huckabee, who is peering up at Ted Cruz in the poll rankings and wondering how he lost his long-established conservative evangelical base in Iowa to a Cuban-American. According to (naturally) Politico, Huck rose to the occasion:

“Conservatives are being asked to ‘coalesce’ around yet another corporately-funded candidate that says something very different at a big donor fundraiser in Manhattan than at a church in Marshalltown,” Huckabee said in a statement released by his campaign Wednesday afternoon. “Shouldn’t a candidate be expected to have authenticity and consistency, instead of having to look at a map to decide what to believe and what to say?”

Cruz’s answer to the “top-three” question may have struck a chord with Huckabee because the former Arkansas governor has issued his own “top-three” statement, allowing as how he’ll fold his presidential campaign if he doesn’t get one of those legendary three tickets out of Iowa. That will only happen over Ted Cruz’s dead (political) body, so no wonder Huck’s trying to take him down.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, December 24, 2015

December 28, 2015 Posted by | Evangelicals, Marriage Equality, Mike Huckabee | , , , , | 1 Comment

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