Newt v. Grover

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Norquist.jpegOnce upon a time, when the Contract with America beguiled a people tired of a Democratic-run Congress, Newt Gingrich and Grover were allies, bomb-throwing peas in a pod ready to achieve congressional power by any means necessary. They made common cause with religious conservatives because they needed ’em in their low-tax, small- government coalition.

Norquist is still pretty much where he’s always been, but as one of the shrewdest of conservative heads has come to the conclusion that religious conservatives are dragging the cause down. As Jacqui Salmon reports over on Ging:

Norquist said conservative Christian leaders are basically too
aggressive. They should be playing more defense and less offense, he
says, because they’re scaring the bejeezuz out of everyone who’s not in
their corner.

The Christian right should adopt more of the attitude of “leave me
alone and let me raise my kids” and not “everybody agrees with me,
therefore you have to do what I say,” according to Norquist.

Newt, by contrast, has traveled the Damascus road, not merely converting the Roman Catholicism but taking up vintage 1980s religious right rhetoric and cranking it up a notch. Indeed, he went so far as to say the other day,

“The first job we have as Americans is to reach out to everybody in the country who is not yet saved and to help them understand the spiritual basis of a creator-endowed society.”

gingrich.jpegI’m not entirely sure that most of the people who usually talk this way would regard Newt, the Baptist-turned-Catholic, as among the saved, but never mind. The question is what he thinks he’s accomplishing with this kind of talk. I don’t underestimate Newt’s astuteness as a political agitator, but Norquist’s assessment does seem more grounded in current realities. If it’s the presidential bug that’s bitten Gingrich, then perhaps his idea is to make himself so thoroughly acceptable to religious conservatives that when it comes time to pivot toward his long-held economic convictions, he’ll have them, if not in his pocket, at least at his beck and call.  

  • Kevin Schultz

    Quick favor: can you change the settings so that we link to another site from your blogs we open a new window rather than are re-directed from your site? I might just want to catch a glimpse of something (or keep it open for a while so I can come back to it) while I finish your piece.
    If it can’t be done, alas alas.
    Kevin Schultz

  • Rob Winslow

    It’s scary to contemplate the emergence of Gingrich the revivalist twinned with Gingrich the conservative politician. Being among the “not yet saved,” as Gingrich the revivalist describes me, I’m not really afraid of his and other evangelical Christians’ desire to see me understand as they do. On the other hand, I’m quite spooked by Gingrich the politician and his ilk getting in my face with their demand that I subordinate myself or my country to their god.
    Maybe Gingrich can keep his two selves discreet and separate, but I’m not hopeful. Sarah Palin, the believer who hides her belief, is beginning to look better and better as evangelical Repbublican standard bearer.
    Hallelujah! May the best believer win.