Why Republicans Need Grunge

Dan Matthews is the longshot challenger of Washington state congressman Rick Larsen. He’s just cut his first ad titled “Drinking Away the Deficit” capitalizing on the low-grade scandal that erupted this year when it came out that Larsen’s staffers had loose Twitter lips. Here’s the video (more comments below):

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MY USA Today Piece on VP Debates

You can find that here. The title is “One memorable veep debate,” though I argue most of them are fairly memorable.

How this happened was USA Today called me up earlier this week and said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Hey Mr. Vice Presidential Expert Guy, how would you like to watch the veep debate between Paul Ryan and that other guy, kind of a grin with a body behind it, and then file an insta-analysis for us that reacts to the debate and puts it in a broader historical context and does not bore people to tears?”

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Divided We Stand! Wait, What?

As part of its big picture approach to this election, the question Patheos has asked many of us bloggers to noodle this week is, “What’s wrong — and what’s right — with the role of faith in American politics today?” I am, unfortunately, a bearer of bad news on this front.

After writing my new e-book Mitt Romney’s Mormon-Christian Coalition (download that for free here, folks; I did my damndest to make it a brief and entertaining read), I am struck by a divide in American politics that isn’t likely to go away any time soon. A chasm that became noticeable during the George W. Bush years has grown much wider during Barack Obama’s administration. American politics is coming to resemble old-style continental European politics, with both pro- and anti-clerical parties.

The big difference is that the United States has never had nor wanted an established church. And so our political parties are slowly re-sorting themselves along broader lines of the party that’s for a serious and robust role for religion in American life and one that is coming to oppose such a role.

The two greatest examples of this great re-sorting are 1) the fact that God was taken out of and then forced back into the Democratic platform this year over the loud objections of at least a plurality of the delegates; and 2) the fact that the GOP, a party with a Southern evangelical base, nominated a former Mormon bishop and stake president to run for president of the United States.

You can applaud Barack Obama for insisting his party’s platform take some notice of the historically God-fearing character of America. You can applaud Mitt Romney for betting that anti-Mormon prejudice would not be so virulent as to deny him his party’s nomination, and his party’s primary voters for proving him right. But if you are a sober-headed observer of American politics, you dare not lose sight of the darker reality these things signal as well.

Obama had to insist on the shout out to God because his party has become hostile to the Almighty and to religion unless it is a narrowly defined, neutered thing that agrees with the Democratic Party platform on all particulars. In the passage and implementation of Obamacare, the Democrats and the Obama administration have stridently refused to concede any real ground to religious sensibilities or freedom of conscience.

It was in this context that Romney’s win in the primaries happened. Anti-Mormon prejudice has probably lessened among evangelicals over the last few decades, but the relative tolerance of primary voters is not the real issue going into November. The real issue is that many believers and many religious institutions have come to view the whole Obama program as a threat and the Romney-Ryan ticket as the only realistic-though-imperfect weapon they have left to ward it off.

Even if they win, this new politics is a loss for America. Our constitution and bill of rights, our divided legislature, our conflicting branches of government, our broad two-party system — all were meant to keep the stakes of one election from ever getting this high.

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

Shorts Weather, RIP?

I woke up in Lynden this morning staring out into a fog bank but determined to wear shorts for at least one more day before I put them away for a while. The fog won. The weather has been so nice lately that we still may get a few more days of shorts weather before that becomes no longer workable, but then again maybe not. Very sad.

plaid shorts

Reminder: Free Mitt, Obama and US Religion E-book

Hate to flog this again but, well, actually no I don’t. Yesterday, I announced the release of the short e-book Mitt Romney’s Mormon-Christian Coalition, written by yours truly and published for free through the sponsorship of the conservative weekly Human Events.

I’ll have more to say about the substance of that book this week, but for now here’s the link to the page where you can sign up to have it sent to you immediately and for no dollars and zero cents. Download it, digest it and tell Jeremy Lott’s Diary what you thought of it in comments.

Our First Gay Ex-President?

Over at Politix, David Mark has some fun with Andrew Sullivan’s latest freakout, this time over the possibility that our first gay president might not, in fact be cruising toward reelection.

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An Angel Walks into a Bar

Thomas Nelson’s Joel Miller has a new book out about angels, which I blurbed. We ran a promotional piece by Miller in Real Clear Religion yesterday. In the process of giving Hollywood some ideas about how to do angels right, Miller took a few fun digs:

Hollywood usually blows it when it comes to angels. Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life may be endearing, but he’s nothing like the angels we find in the pages of scripture.

Ditto for Christopher Lloyd in Angels in the Outfield or Denzel Washington in The Preacher’s Wife. And if John Travolta had played Gabriel instead of Michael, Mary would have called off the Annunciation.

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