3/23/2005

Standing up to Republican-lites and religious radicals

From Paul Waldman of Gadflyer:
I hope Tim Kaine becomes the governor of Virginia, I really do. The alternative - Republican Jerry Kilgore - is worse than Kaine or anyone the Democrats could find. But so far, Kaine seems to be of the school that says the way you win in the South is by being as Republican as possible. The particulars of this template are:
1. Criticize Democrats; don't criticize Republicans.
2. Criticize the Democratic Party; don't criticize the Republican party
3. Use Republican language and Republican spin points whenever possible.
An exaggeration? Perhaps - I'm sure there have been times when Kaine has criticized the RNC. But in this interview with the American Prospect, Kaine seems to be working to warm the cockles of Karl Rove's heart. First, he says, "I think that John Kerry demonstrated much more comfort talking about windsurfing and hockey than he did talking about his beliefs." Pardon me, but what the fuck are you talking about? John Kerry went windsurfing once during the campaign, and was dumb enough to let news photographers tag along. But he never talked about windsurfing. Few people have been more critical of Kerry's campaign than I have, but that's just about the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. Next, Kaine recycles the old Republican slander, that Democrats don't like religious people: "The second thing that Democrats have to do better on is not attacking the 'religious right,'" he said. "I think that has been a standard bogeyman that Democrats have often used in campaigns, including campaigns in Virginia. If somebody advances an idea or position that's wrong, then attack them for having a bad idea. But they are not wrong because they are religious. When Democrats kind of cavalierly attack the religious right or go after Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, our candidates have sent the signal to a lot of religious people, 'Well, I guess they are not interested in me.' And I think this includes a lot of people who would fit very naturally within the Democratic Party." Show me a single time when someone said, "Jerry Falwell is wrong because he's religious." Jerry Falwell is wrong because he's radical theocrat who has contempt for American values. Democrats shouldn't criticize Falwell - the guy who said God brought September 11 down to punish America for tolerating gays? They shouldn't criticize Pat Robertson - a con man who has made hundreds of millions of dollars stealing from little old ladies, and who writes books full of anti-semitic conspiracy theories? You bet your ass Democrats should criticize them, and they should force Republicans to say whether they embrace the religious values of most Americans, or of radicals like Falwell and Robertson. If the political fault line is seen as running between the religious vs. the non-religious, Democrats will always lose, because they'll never match Republicans hosannah for hosannah. But if the fault line is seen as religious radicals vs. a coalition of religious moderates and seculars, Democrats win, not only because that coalition comprises the vast majority of Americans, but because Republicans will never have the guts to repudiate the radicals in their midst. That's the fault line Democrats should be working to draw attention to. And that argument has more credibility coming from openly religious politicians like Kaine. It's too bad he seems to have neither the courage nor the political understanding to stand up against the radicals.

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