I’ve been trying not to comment on this, mainly because I’m so profoundly disappointed in our religious right leaders that I feared I wouldn’t be able to write about it without showing the respect some of them deserve. Here’s what happened:
Last month at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans, several dozen leaders of the “Christian right” met to strategize next steps—but the meeting inevitably included discussion of missteps in the GOP presidential campaign. Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, an early supporter of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, chided the group for cold-shouldering his candidate until it was too late. Others, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, disagreed. The meeting quickly threatened to dissolve into accusations, rebuttals, and recriminations.
Then, venerable Paul Weyrich—a founder of the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the Council for National Policy (CNP)—raised his hand to speak. Weyrich is a man whose mortality is plain to see. A freak accident several years ago left him with a spinal injury, which ultimately led to both his legs being amputated in 2005. He now gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He is visibly paler and grayer than he was just a few years ago, a fact not lost on many of his friends in the room, some of whom had fought in the political trenches with him since the 1960s.
The room—which had been taken over by argument and side-conversations—became suddenly quiet. Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, “Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong.”
In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.
Yesterday, the headmaster at the kids’ schools mentioned this to me, and I got a little overheated discussing it. I said I wasn’t sure what had gotten into Weyrich, but now I know. David Brody has the scoop:
Check out the open letter to McCain here from these family leaders. The names attached to this open letter are big ones in the social conservative world but one stands out: Paul Weyrich. He endorsed Romney during the primary and now has signed this letter trashing Romney for VP.
Click here, and on the first link, to see the ad.
Weyrich apparently is under the impression that Gov. Romney illegally ordered same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, which is patently absurd. We have talked about this before, and I’ll link to this again.
Not supporting Gov. Romney because he didn’t fight gay “marriage” enough is like not supporting Elvis because he wouldn’t dance.
While I’m not overly familiar with Weyrich, he apparently has been taken in by MassResistance propaganda which seriously misrepresents Gov. Romney’s record. (The MassResistance leader signed the letter.)
No disrespect to Mr. Weyrich, but he needs to be held accountable for propagating lies against Gov. Romney. David — who you may know is a Harvard Law School trained attorney who specializes in these issues — responded to the MassResistance deceptions before he went to Iraq:
No American governor has faced more critical cultural issues than Mitt Romney, Massachusetts’ chief executive from 2003 to 2007. In the midst of Governor Romney’s efforts to rescue his state from a fiscal crisis and create lasting and innovative health care solutions, activist judges and a far-left legislature forced issues of same-sex “marriage,” abortion, religious liberty, stem cell research, and gay rights into the forefront. Each time he was challenged, the Governor not only made the conservative choice, but also did so with an optimistic, unifying message. In doing so, he became a national leader on these vital cultural issues without squandering his ability to govern the Commonwealth.
In four years, Governor Romney turned a deficit into a surplus without raising taxes, created a health coverage plan that is applauded by experts on both sides of the aisle and is designed to reduce costs while preserving personal choices, and effectively responded to the deadly collapse of one of the most expensive construction projects in American history. He did all these things in one of America’s most liberal states at the same time that he vetoed expansive stem cell legislation, vetoed the expansion of abortion rights in Massachusetts, defended the religious liberties of Catholic Charities from an assault by homosexual activists, and launched a multi-year (and multi-state) campaign to preserve traditional marriage after Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
In spite of this impressive conservative record, a group called “MassResistance” has been circulating a lengthy document called “The Mitt Romney Deception.” Combining old statements, half-truths, and some completely misreported stories, the document has gained some traction in the conservative community, with anti-Romney activists forwarding the document dozens of times (apparently without any independent verification of its facts). In much the way as urban legends gain traction through repeated e-mail “forwards,” the seriously-flawed MassResistance piece has led a few individuals to question the Governor’s commitment to conservative principles. MassResistance’s document, however, suffers from at least five fundamental errors.
Click here to read what these five flaws are.
The “religious leaders” meeting at the Ritz Carlton and concluding that Huckabee should’ve been their man is the clearest picture of the need for a serious reformation of our movement. Instead of lamenting that they didn’t support the guy most qualified, they lamented not getting behind a high-taxing Governor who played identity politics and lost… a guy who’s soft on the border and softer on the criminals in his own Arkansas system… a guy whose two plans for foreign policy are “everybody, be nice,” and secondly, “be nice, everybody.”
In the south, there’s a saying about people who “run around like chickens with their heads cut off.” I would use this comparison for our religious leaders, except that chickens don’t voluntarily enter into a suicide pact based on flawed information.
We have, as a movement, lost our heads.