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Commentary Last Updated: Mar 14th, 2007 - 01:57:27

Has the Christian Right found its candidate for �08?
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 14, 2007, 01:54

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In early February, the star chamber of the Christian Right and ultra-conservatives -- the Council for National Policy (CNP) -- met at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida. As The New York Times reported, after the meeting CNP members �were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next [presidential] election.�

James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Jerry Falwell of Liberty University, and Paul Weyrich, the founding president of the Heritage Foundation and now chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, are among the CNP�s luminaries. Perhaps these three �brothers� imitated the three witch sisters in MacBeth to conjure their ideal candidate. The characteristics and ingredients certainly fit:

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. . . .

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder�s fork and blind-worm�s sting,

Lizard�s leg and owlet�s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

On March 9, Newt Gingrich was the guest of honor on James Dobson�s syndicated radio show. During the interview, in a Swaggart-like �I have sinned� confession, family values champion Gingrich -- whose dark side is dark indeed -- admitted having an extramarital affair with Callista Bisek, a former congressional aide more than 20 years his junior, at the same time he was leading the �hell-broth� charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair.

The �I� of Newt used the �tongue of dog� to quickly assert that he should not be deemed a hypocrite, even though he obviously is one, as are so many other CNPers and self-righteous leaders of the Christian Right.

How telling is it that one such �Christian� leader expressed grave concerns about Rudy Giuliani�s divorce: �Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land, for example, described Giuliani�s breakup with Hanover as �divorce on steroids.� Hanover learned her husband was seeking a divorce from television after he announced the decision at a press conference.

��To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children -- that�s rough,� said Land. �I think that�s going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren�t pro-choice and pro-gun control.��

Yet, Land had nothing to say about Gingrich�s confession, his �divorce on steroids,� or the public humiliation he caused his family:

Gingrich, who frequently campaigned on family values issues, divorced his second wife, Marianne, in 2000 after his attorneys acknowledged Gingrich�s [extramarital] relationship . . .

His first marriage, to his former high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, ended in divorce in 1981. Although Gingrich has said he doesn�t remember it, Battley has said Gingrich discussed divorce terms with her while she was recuperating in the hospital from cancer surgery. [BEN EVANS, Associated Press]

In addition to asking for �God�s forgiveness,� perhaps Gingrich should pray for a better memory.

Another CNP luminary who was �moved� by Gingrich�s public repentance -- and his political motives -- was Jerry Falwell. On March 10, Falwell announced, �I decided earlier this week to invite Mr. Gingrich to come to Liberty University on May 19 as our graduation speaker. This will be his second commencement speech at Liberty, previously addressing graduates in 1991.�

Falwell added, �In recent years, Mr. Gingrich has dedicated much of his time to calling America back to our Christian heritage . . . There has been a war on God in our nation in recent years and the effort to rekindle our national commitment to God is urgently needed . . . I�m proud to call Mr. Gingrich my friend and I will continue to pray for him and his family as he contemplates a run for the presidency . . .�

Of course, the former leader of the Moral Majority added a disclaimer: �this is an invitation for Mr. Gingrich, not an endorsement.� But the signs seem more than clear, especially on Gingrich�s website that features sucking-up articles such as �Abolish 9th Circuit, Gingrich tells Dobson.� The 9th Circuit Court, which often upholds civil liberties and civil equality, has been a frequent target of the Christian Right and their political minions. also features an article titled �Not in race, Gingrich still has right stuff.� Well, Newt certainly has got a lot of �stuff,� and his political rhetoric always has that holier-than-thou smell. Also to his �credit� is the fact that he�s a �pro-family� hypocrite of the Dick Cheney kind. Cheney has a pregnant lesbian daughter, yet he vehemently opposes gay marriage despite that position�s implications for his future grandchild. Newt�s lesbian sister, Candace, is an equal rights activist, yet �family values� Newt opposes equal rights and especially gay marriage. If he showed the slightest conscience in that area, Dobson and Falwell wouldn�t be courting him.

So get the cauldrons ready. Campaign 2008 could well feature �eye of newt� and �tongue of dog.� But take heart. MacBeth�s play for power didn�t work out too well either.

NB: My apologies to canines everywhere. Dogs are honest and don�t pretend to be what they�re not.

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