The EFM Feature

Here is how Deroy Murdock’s latest syndicated column begins:

“The most important ‘traditional value’ in this election is keeping the Clintons out of the White House,” says Greg Alterton, an evangelical Christian who writes for and counts himself among Rudolph Giuliani’s social-conservative supporters.
People like Alterton are important, if overlooked, in the Republican presidential sweepstakes. Anti-Giuliani Religious Rightists are far more visible. Also conspicuous are pundits whose cartoon version of social conservatism regards abortion and gay rights as “the social issues,” excluding other traditionalist concerns.
New York’s former mayor “has abandoned social conservatism,” commentator Maggie Gallagher complains. He “is anathema to social conservatives,” veteran columnist Robert Novak recently wrote. Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson has said: “I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008.” Dobson and a cadre of Religious Right leaders threaten to deploy a pro-life, third-party candidate should Giuliani be nominated.
This “Rudyphobia” ignores Giuliani’s pro-family/anti-abortion ideas, his socially conservative mayoral record, and his popularity among churchgoing Republicans.

Mr. Murdock is one of our nation’s most perceptive commentators. I frequently enjoy reading his writing. As for Greg Alterton, I know virtually nothing about the fellow. But I do know one thing: Both of them are drinking some serious Kool-Aid. I know we’re not exactly short on the stuff over here–and don’t confuse it with Postum!–but their comments are rich even by the standards of a political campaign.
The first thing that caught my eye was Mr. Alterton’s statement: “The most important ‘traditional value’ in this election is keeping the Clintons out of the White House.” That’s a good sound bite. But it’s also a terribly destructive idea. Traditional values can never be reduced to furthering or opposing one person (unless you want to get theological and posit that the spread of traditional values ultimately furthers God’s agenda, since they came from him). If they are so reduced, they are ultimately meaningless–they have no significance outside of a specific political moment.
No, traditional values are just that–traditional. They originated long before Senator Clinton was ever born. And although some conservatives seem to think Senator Clinton will have the power to do whatever she wants IF WE DON’T STOP HER NOW!…they will still be around long after she’s gone from the political scene, whether she wins the White House or not. They are based in things like the family and the sanctity of life, things that come from God. To say that some momentary political campaign trumps those things is to cheapen them terribly. We shouldn’t stand for it–even if it is a catchy sound bite.
The other thing in this piece that demands comment is Mr. Murdock’s statement that Mayor Giuliani has “pro-family/anti-abortion ideas.”
Let’s take abortion first. I know Mayor Giuliani claims to “hate” abortion. I also know abortions went down in New York City during his tenure. Quite frankly, it’s not clear to me what he had to do with that. It’s also not clear to me how anyone, especially a man as action-oriented as Mayor Giuliani, can “hate” abortion but refuse to try and get rid of it. Why would he be tougher on squeegee men than on the murder of unborn children?
But let’s leave that aside, because the more troubling statement is Mr. Murdock’s argument that we can regard Mayor Giuliani’s ideas as “pro-family.” Forget his views on the politics of abortion. Forget his past support (his position is now unclear) for civil unions. In fact, forget politics altogether, and look at his own life. If the term “pro-family” is to have any meaning whatsoever, those who claim to be it have to show it in their own families. And there is just no way you can seriously argue that a man can simultaneously have “pro-family ideas” and announce at a press conference that he is dumping his wife for a woman you met at a cigar bar. That just doesn’t work, and it’s a shame to see someone so smart argue that it does.
Quite frankly, that kind of Kool-Aid must come in an IV.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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