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Sunday, October 22, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor

In a book review in today’s WaPo (Has the Right Gone Wrong?) of Andrew Sullivan’s new book, The Conservative Soul, Bryan Burrough distills the argument as follows:

Sullivan is also smart and well read, and in his new book, The Conservative Soul , he calmly and rationally attempts to deduce the malady that in barely 15 years has rendered Reagan-era conservatism all but unrecognizable.

The pathogen he identifies is Christian fundamentalism.

The thing is, that doesn’t make any sense. It is wholly unclear to me how Christian fundamentalism would lead, per se, to the mess that is Iraq, to fiscal irresponsibility, to substantial corruption in the Congress (e.g., DeLay, Ney, Cunningham and others), to incompetence over Katrina or to any number of other issues. Even if the argument would be that Bush’s own fundamentalism (not that Methodists are all that fundamentalist) led him to have messianic/apocalyptic visions in his pursuit of foreign policy (an argument some have made), that doesn’t explain the general problems of the Republican Party these days.

Yes, one can blame, if that is the right word, Christian fundamentalists on a list of issues including abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage. However, regardless of one’s view on those subject, I don’t see an argument that would connect them to the list of ills in the preceding paragraph.

Of course, in Sully’s post on the review I think he may be disagreeing with Burrough’s assessment, but it is unclear.

And, by the way, wasn’t it just two years ago that everyone wanted to talk about “values voters” and how the Democrats have a “God problem”? Now the argument is supposed to be that the GOP is off the tracks because of Evangelicals? That doesn’t make sense, to be honest.

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Filed under: US Politics, Books, Religion | |

5 Comments

  1. “It is wholly unclear to me how Christian fundamentalism would lead, per se, to the mess that is Iraq, to fiscal irresponsibility, to substantial corruption in the Congress (e.g., DeLay, Ney, Cunningham and others), to incompetence over Katrina or to any number of other issues.”

    It might become slightly clearer to you if you try reading the book.

    Comment by Bleeding Obvious — Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 7:30 am

  2. Well, he did work in the obligatory “blame it on Bill Clinton” angle.

    Comment by Harry — Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 8:25 am

  3. Bleeding Obvious:

    I will grant the statement-however, I find it difficult to connect those things regardless. And I was reacting not to the book, but to the book review.

    Have you read the book? Care to enlighten us?

    Also: evangelicals were strong during the Reagan era as well. There are issues of casuality regardless of what argument is made.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  4. I think doc. Taylor is correct in pointing out that Reagan wooed evangelicals more than any other Presidential candidate before him. I mean, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.” Falwell & the Majority must have been eating out of his hands.

    Comment by Talmadge East — Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  5. I think it is safe to say that while Reagan wooed evengelicals (a word I do not like in this context, but anyway…), no president before Bush was as tight with them. And never has any US party been as disciplined and ideological as the GOP was for most of the past six years. The mobilized “evangelicals” and their near-total loyalty to the party are a big part of that. So, yes, it makes sense to me that many of the party’s current problems can be attributed to the most lyaly mass portion of the coalition and its willingness to offer total loyalty to a very authoritarian, imperialist, and, yes, apocalyptic administration.

    Of course, I have read neither the book nor the column, and am unlikely to do so.

    Comment by MSS — Tuesday, October 24, 2006 @ 10:16 am

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