In the Arena

Complexity on the Right

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I should have posted on this earlier, but David Kirkpatrick’s piece about the evangelical flock’s growing impatience with their right-wing leaders in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine was probably the most important piece of political journalism I’ve seen this year…yet another sign that we’ve reached the raggedy edge of the right-wing pendulum swing. It also raises a question:

If the evangelical flock is tired of the same-old, same-old prosyletizing, what on earth are the Republican candidates for President doing? It certainly helps to explain why Rudy Giuliani hasn’t been ridden out of the party, or dislodged from the top of the polls, so far.

But it should be noted: If evangelicals are more willing to listen to candidates who talk about global warming, the need for universal health insurance and the depredations of the Bush foreign policy, they still remain social conservatives: opposed to abortion, concerned about the crap their children are accessing online (and on television). The latter–concern about their kids–is probably their greatest priority, which still puts them very much at loggerheads with the Hollywood wing of the Democratic Party. My guess is that the presidential election will hinge on whether the Democratic nominee can appeal to these voters–and, as always in recent history, to their Roman Catholic equivalents.

I Should Add: It seems pretty clear that Mike Huckabee is the candidate most in touch with this new, softer mood among evangelicals, as Fred Siegel points out.