- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Democrats Hold the Culture War Whip Hand

Back in 1987, this writer was invited by friends to advise them on a press conference they had called to oppose President Reagan’s signing of an INF treaty to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe.

My advice: Deplore the treaty; do not attack the president. The next day, Howard Phillips declared that Ronald Reagan had become a “useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.”

Howie captured the headlines, as did Rudy Giuliani after that dinner at 21 Club for Gov. Scott Walker, where the mayor spontaneously rose to declaim, “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. … He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of his country.”

The next day, Rudy doubled down, bringing up Obama’s old ties to socialists and communists: Stalinist Frank Marshall Davis, radical Saul Alinsky, 1970s bomber Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Rudy could not understand why at the National Prayer Breakfast the president launched an attack on the Crusades and the Inquisition, done “in the name of Christ.” The mayor could not understand why Obama had trouble identifying and naming ISIS as radical Islamic terrorists.

Though this writer heard several radio talk show hosts Friday cheer Rudy on, Republicans swiftly declared that Obama’s love for America must not be questioned. Urged to put space between themselves and Rudy, most Republican leaders swiftly did.

The consultant class’ advice was near unanimous: Cut Rudy loose.

Sensing retreat, the left pursued. And it is not letting go. They still demand to know why Walker did not renounce Rudy and whether he believes Obama is a Christian. For weeks the governor has been bedeviled for refusing to say in London if he believes in evolution.

Walker’s initial response to whether he thought Obama was a Christian was, “I don’t know. … To me this is a classic example of why people hate Washington, and, increasingly, they dislike the press.” Yet, Walker’s spokesperson hastily issued this corrective statement, “Of course the governor thinks the president is a Christian.”

Monday, Rudy walked back his remark that Obama does not love America, writing in the Wall Street Journal, “I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart.” The Republican rout was complete.

While this, too, shall pass away, what it reveals is the balance of power in the culture war and which side has the whip hand. And what it portends is a drive by the left to pull the GOP back onto the terrain of moral and social issues where its candidates are, or can be portrayed, as out of step with modernity.

Lately, this writer heard a political analyst say that if the GOP platform opposes same-sex marriage, the party can write off California and its 55 electoral votes. Which may be true. Such has been the cultural and moral shift in America in just a few years.

Yet if the party is true to its past platforms and professed convictions, how can it endorse or equivocate on same-sex marriage? As for whether one believes in Darwinian evolution, it is neither an inconsequential nor illegitimate question. For where one stands on biblical truth, natural law, a creator, and intelligent design is a strong if not absolute indicator of where one comes down on abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and legalized narcotics.

To traditionalists, the de-Christianized and secularized character of American society is of greater concern than whose flag flies over Sebastopol. And if the GOP visibly retreats or takes a stand of studied neutrality on these issues, it will lose the enthusiasm of the most ardent of its admirers. And the party can’t afford that.

Democrats and their media allies may be expected to elevate the social issues, both because they sever the GOP from the cultural-media mainstream, and they drive a wedge into the party base between economic and social conservatives. One imagines those conservatives gathered at Club 21 were more interested in hearing how a President Walker would cut corporate and capital gains taxes than how soon Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

Since the Republican victory in November, it has not been a good quarter for the GOP. Obama, repudiated, seems liberated. Ignoring GOP protests, he issued an executive amnesty for five million illegal immigrants. He promises to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. He taunted the GOP in his State of the Union. He is back to 50 percent approval in the polls.

The economy added 1 million jobs in three months. The Dow Jones Friday hit a record high. Senate Democrats are happily filibustering to death the House bill to defund amnesty. And if the Department of Homeland Security has to shut down for lack of funds, Obama and his media allies will see to it the GOP is blamed.

And the national rollouts of the Bush III and Walker campaigns have shown that neither is ready for prime time.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of  The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. [1] Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "Democrats Hold the Culture War Whip Hand"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 24, 2015 @ 1:52 am

But Rudy’s the guy who likes to put on a dress, and his hawkishness, as well as his social liberalism, is of a piece with the Washingtononian duopoly consensus. He even styles freedom as deciding to surrender individual liberty to government.

#2 Comment By bacon On February 24, 2015 @ 1:54 am

Mr. Giuliani deserves a little sympathy. After years as mayor of New York City, probably one of the 5 most powerful and prestigious jobs in the US and a job that he, as a typically self-absorbed New Yorker and politician, probably thought of as the #1 job, maybe globally, then went on to spend $50+million on a presidential campaign which netted him 1 delegate. As bad as that must have been, he now finds himself in the political wilderness where nobody cares what he thinks, excepting talk radio wing nuts and media, most of whom would report breathlessly on dog droppings on the sidewalk as long as they thought it would get them air time. Of course he is obsessed by his fury at Obama; it gets him some attention and a whiff of former importance.

In re Walker and other POTUS wannabes, here’s a challenge. Come up with any statement, no matter how silly, critical of Obama or one of their rivals in either party, that they wouldn’t make. Or pick an important issue facing our country, energy, climate change, abortion, education, infrastructure, our tendency to go to war at the drop of a hat in places where we have no serious national interest, immigration, health care, income inequality, pick your subject, and ask their opinion. The mealymouthed pablum with no real answer you will get is coming from someone who want to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

So many smart, strong people in the US, so much dreck in our political system. Mercy.

#3 Comment By collin On February 24, 2015 @ 9:45 am

Wouldn’t as easy to say Giuliani said something horrible and it has unfortunate conservative ‘dog whistling’ aspects to the comments? (The comments clearly state Obama is not a real American.) And can conservatives give up the anti-colonial comments? Luckily the comments were said early enough to have minimal effect on 2016.

It might also be better to note the reason why private payrolls are improving partially because Obama has avoid too many “Doing Stupid Things” with Foreign Policy.

#4 Comment By Kurt Gayle On February 24, 2015 @ 9:50 am

“If the GOP visibly retreats or takes a stand of studied neutrality on these issues [‘abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and legalized narcotics’] it will lose the enthusiasm of the most ardent of its admirers. And the party can’t afford that.”

The Republican Party “can’t afford that” because “those conservatives gathered at Club 21 — [who are] more interested in hearing how a President Walker would cut corporate and capital gains taxes than how soon Roe v. Wade could be overturned” — want to win elections.

Duh! That’s the key, isn’t it? Winning elections. The Republican Party’s movers and shakers have only ever professed opposition to abortion – and included anti-abortion planks in the Republican Platform — as useful tools to string along social conservatives at election time. (God,we’ve been cheap dates!)

But Republicans have never been truly serious about the social issues. The continued failure of the US Supreme Court to roll back the unconstitutional Roe vs. Wade decision is the direct result of pro-choice nominees to the Court by Republican presidents. Even now with the largest Republican majorities in the House and the Senate since World War II, Republicans will “duck and hide” and do nothing meaningful about social issues. The Republican “con” aimed at it social conservative constituents is to “talk the talk” on social issues, but never to “walk the walk.” Republican talk on social issues is phony talk. It’s b.s. now. It has always been b.s.

If Republican Party movers and shakers – the wealthy elites who are not social conservatives themselves and who have never been comfortable with social conservative voters – could find a way to stitch together some newly-configured election base, they would drop social conservatives faster than third period French.

#5 Comment By LauraNo On February 24, 2015 @ 10:04 am

Yea, it seems the culture wars aren’t paying off for Republicans anymore. I would argue about Obama having been “repudiated”. Democrats stayed home, but not because of disapproval of Obama.

#6 Comment By balconesfault On February 24, 2015 @ 10:59 am

I think that a major problem that Mr. Buchanan has when finding allies is that there are very few in the political realm who embrace his positions on social issues from a studied, intellectual perspective.

Rather, for a lot of politicians who just aren’t particularly smart enough to grasp and develop a coherent, internally consistent viewpoint on serious policy issues – banging on social issues becomes a shortcut to getting support.

And as many have pointed out in the past, Rudy just isn’t that smart.

When someone has embraced a specific position out of expediency, rather than from studied, intellectual conviction – only makes sense to jump out of the skillet when the heat gets turned on.

That said – I disagree that declaring Obama “doesn’t love America” is a culture war thing. It’s just … well … stupid.

#7 Comment By JonF On February 24, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

Re: For where one stands on biblical truth, natural law, a creator, and intelligent design is a strong if not absolute indicator of where one comes down on abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and legalized narcotics.

This is absolutely false. The Catholic Church endorses neither scriptural literalism nor young earth creationism, yet manages to be pro-Life and against SSM.

#8 Comment By IntelliWriter On February 24, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

Buchanan never ceases to amaze me. This article is spot on. And as the GOTP’s older, conservative base is replaced by Gen Y and millennials; and yes, liberal boomers, Democrats will find social issues bring more voters to them.

Watching Scott Walker, in particular, dance around these topics knowing he’d love to install a union-bashing Pluto-Theocracy at the seat of government is going to be a hoot. His greed for power flanked by his dullness should flush him out of the contest sooner than later.

#9 Comment By Myron Hudson On February 24, 2015 @ 6:08 pm

Somebody says something objectionable and/or stupid (or which is taken completely out of context) and the opposition partisans run with it until the next Outrage. What’s new about that?

#10 Comment By Richard M On February 24, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

This is absolutely false. The Catholic Church endorses neither scriptural literalism nor young earth creationism, yet manages to be pro-Life and against SSM.

You can say it til you’re blue in the face – read the Catechism (even the Catechism of Pius X!) out loud – but plenty of liberals seem unwilling to believe it.

#11 Comment By JonF On February 25, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

Re: You can say it til you’re blue in the face – read the Catechism (even the Catechism of Pius X!) out loud – but plenty of liberals seem unwilling to believe it.

Um, I grew up Catholic. (And I am currently Eastern Orthodox) Neither my childhood church nor my current church endorse Scriptural Literalism nor Young Earth Creationism. Scriptural Literalism was NEVER a doctrine of traditional Christianity; it’s a modernist fad introduced in the 19th century.
Pius X has been dead a good long while and much of his extremism has been quietly undone by later popes, and the Vatican II Council. (Pius X also condemned railroads and smallpox inoculations by the way– which hasn’t kept Catholics in horse and buggies and unvaccinated).
The position expressed not long ago by the current Pope is that we can accept Darwinian evolution as a mechanism for the development of life as long as one maintains the understanding that this process serves God’s will.

#12 Comment By JonF On February 25, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

Re: Even now with the largest Republican majorities in the House and the Senate since World War II…

Minor quibble, but in 2005 there were 55 GOP Senators. Currently there are 54.

#13 Comment By Michael On February 25, 2015 @ 9:04 pm

To quote Ross Douthat: “The idea that GOP is a party of moneyed interests posing as a culturally conservative party is, um, not always without empirical support.”

#14 Comment By Hal Fiore On February 25, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

I know calling your opponent unpatriotic has been part of the Republican playbook since at least Nixon, but is it fair to claim the mantle of cultural conservatism and play the victim card when an blatant opportunistic panderer like Giuliani is called on it?

#15 Comment By Bo Grimes On February 26, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

Scott Walker should have replied: “The President says he’s a Christian, and that’s good enough for me. ISIS says they’re Islamic. That’s also good enough for me.”

#16 Comment By Robert Bruce On February 27, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

Our political system is nothing more than a game of good cop bad cop. Each party plays both roles, as it depends on what each social/ethnic thinks about them. The GOP under W had the chance to show the cultural conservatives “the money” and balked when W came out and said we had t o change the culture first with regards to overturning Roe V Wade, when he had the legal power to overturn it right then and there. Cultural conservatives and Christians have been duped for thinking a bunch of opportunist politicians really cared about the culture, when so many of them are scumbags in the first place.