since the invasion of Iraq, Karl Rove has been
traveling the country mobilizing the evangelical
vote for the 2004 elections. In city after city,
he is meeting with evangelical leaders. He begs:
"in 2000, only 16 million of you voted. We need
the other four million."
has coupled these overtures to evangelicals with
similar meetings with the Jewish community (in
Cincinatti, he left the evangelical meeting to
join the representatives of Jewish organizations
one floor up in the same hotel). In both meetings,
Rove stresses the importance of President Bush's
invasion of Iraq and his support of Israel. But
only with the evangelicals does he stress the
president's unwavering support for the moral issues
that are their priorities - abortion, pornography,
judges, and (most important) the Marriage Amendment.
Baker used to say, "That door swings both ways."
But this one is going to be slammed in the face
of the evangelicals. And they should see it coming.
the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the administration
worked hard to firm up the alliance of Jews and
Christian evangelicals supporting the war. A full
year before the Iraq invasion, New York Times
columnist Tom Friedman was already complaining
about"- the feckless American Jewish leaders,
fundamentalist Christians and neoconservatives
who together have helped make it impossible for
anyone in the U.S. administration to talk seriously
about halting Israeli settlement-building without
being accused of being anti-Israel."
late 2002, the alliance which Friedman describes
was deployed in support of the invasion of Iraq.
Without the unswerving support of the evangelicals,
it simply would never have happened. Evangelical
leaders strongly supported the war in theological
terms that were nearly apocalyptic. In the interest
of full disclosure, however, I have yet to see
any of the pro-war commentators on Fox News -
Cal Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Fred Barnes, or William
"Billy the Kid" Kristol - disclose the fees that
they receive for serving as "contributors" to
the most pro-war network.
Gantry, please call you office.
the neocons got their war, with the fervent support
of the evangelicals. Now the evangelicals want
the country to address their priorities. What
about the filibustered federal judges? What about
the Marriage Amendment? Will the neocons, in gratitude
for the indispensable support of the evangelicals
for the war, return the favor and support the
conservative moral agenda?
hold your breath.
the contrary, in fact. The last fortnight has
witnessed the emergence of a long-planned neocon
assault on any and all efforts to put legal protections
of traditional marriage on the books. Day after
day, neocons have mounted a concerted barrage
across Bush's bow. Safire, Brooks, Sullivan, and
virtually everyone at National Review and the
Wall Street Journal have sent Bush and Rove a
counter-intuitive message: the Marriage Amendment
will divide not the Democrats, but the "Republicans"
(in other words, the neocons would jump ship).
what is President Bush, the firm-jawed, resolute
leader in crisis, going to do?
going to cave.
is aghast. Virtually every neocon supporter of
the war just happens to be discovering, quite
suddenly, that traditional marriage, so central
to Bush's core evangelical constituency, is a
threat to Republican victory in 2004.
oh, did I mention that they also aren't happy
with the way that Bush is fighting the war lately?
In recent weeks Kristol, Perle, Gaffney, Gingrich,
and company have had a heyday attacking the administration.
They grouse that they have lost control of "their"
war. Kristol carps that Dean might win because
Bush hasn't invaded enough countries; Gaffney
warns that Grover Norquist has infiltrated the
White House with Moslem supporters of terrorism.
Last month, Richer Perle startled the policy community
when he publicly admitted that the invasion of
Iraq was a violation of international law (but
we invaded anyway, because his private agenda
was more important). To top it off, Newt Gingrich
now announces that Iraq policy has gone "off a
flame away, disavowing any responsibility for
the mess that Iraq has become under Bush's guiding
hand. Now, like the Mexican truck driver who delivers
to Chi Chi's in Pittsburgh, they wail, "Hey, amigo,
them ain't my onions!" They will be satisfied
only with a full, imperial upheaval, and then
occupation, of the entire Middle East. Short of
that, nothing is their fault.
neocon treachery has left Bush in a quandary.
How will he shore up support for the war from
other quarters? Here he confronts two distressing
realities: first, with increasing desperation,
he is trying to extricate U.S. government forces
from Iraq, within six months, under the cover
of a quick-start Iraqi "democracy," when in fact
everybody admits that American occupying forces
will be there for years. Second, the Democrats
now have a front-runner who is implacably opposed
to the Iraq war, from start to finish. This Democrat
position seems ever more credible, even to the
likes of William Kristol, with the avalanche of
revelations about the disinformation and subterfuge
employed by the neocons to stoke American war
fever before the invasion.
fever, plus the lingering bipartisan unity flowing
from 9-11, produced a modicum of Democrat support
for Bush's invasion of Iraq. But Newt Gingrich
is right: not only has U.S. policy in Iraq gone
"off a cliff," but the support for Bush's war
from moderate Democrats, which was tepid and surly
to begin with, threatens to do so as well. And
Bush simply can't survive without that support.
The neocons,on the other hand, only needed it
to get the war started. They don't need it any
Bush does. Hence, those indispensable Democrats,
unanimously opposed both to the Marriage Amendment
and to Bush's judges, are going to demand their
pound of flesh. And they are going to get it.
they do, evangelicals will raise the roof (if
not more). And poor W, reeling, will ask Karl
Rove, "how did this happen?"
answer is not difficult to surmise. The neocons
have always appreciated the duplicitous Maoist
dialectic. Working both sides of the fence, and
speaking out of both sides of their mouths, comes
as second nature to them. So, sometime after 9-11,
and before the Iraq invasion, we can assume that
they went to their fellow Democrats and laid out
their case along these lines:
surprised at the sudden prominence we have acquired
in this administration, but we're going to use
it for all it's worth. We would like to have your
support on our key issues, and, in return, you
will have ours, because, after all, we agree on
them - we always have.
you need to understand something. You will begin
to see us in an alliance with evangelical Christians,
the "Religious Right," the bane of your existence.
Do not fear. We are using them, on a single-issue
basis, for one goal only - to achieve our designs
for the Middle East. We know their theology is
laughable, but it is also useful. Don't worry,
we will not reciprocate when they begin asking
us for our support on "moral" issues. We promise
you that. In fact, we will make sure they fail
on those issues.
for us, President Bush is a means, not an end.
You and we agree on the same ends. And we will
make sure that the evangelicals don't frustrate
those ends. And neither will Bush."
was the deal. So, when the recent decision by
the Massachusetts Supreme Court, coupled with
the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Texas
sodomy case, thrust into the realm of reality
the prospect that all states might be called on
to recognize homosexual civil unions, the neocons
had their scripts rehearsed and ready. Scarcely
a day has since gone by that one or another of
them has not resonated to the drumbeat of doom
for the Republicans, should Bush support any measure
that might impede the glorious diversity of homosexual
Bush will finally realize that the neocons have
betrayed him - as true conservatives for two years
have warned him they would. About that time, Jim
Baker, the Texas street-fighter and the Florida
Fixer, will come back with the first draft of
a fix in Iraq and tell him, "what the hell did
you expect? Broom'em all!"
Karl Rove, duplicitous to the end, will tell him,
"You can't win without these guys. And they are
smart enough to know when they're being betrayed."
enough" - unlike the hapless evangelicals, who
(Rove will assure Bush) are just as "poor, undereducated,
and easily led" as the Washington Post said they
were so many years ago.
is afraid of the neocons. They can turn on him,
and ruin him, in a New York Minute. But he does
not fear the evangelicals. They have nowhere else
to go. So Bush will betray them, even as he has
been betrayed by the neocons - as planned by the
coming year Bush will mouth repeated pieties about
the sacred character of marriage, and do Š nothing.
No midnight phone calls, no arm-twisting, no bribes,
no threats like those leveled at Republicans who
dared vote against Medicare, no all-night roll-calls.
"You're on your own," Rove will tell evangelicals,
"we've done all we can." The judges will lose.
The Marriage Amendment will lose. The neocons
will have nothing to fear.
wonder, what will those four million evangelicals
tell Karl Rove next November, when he says, once
more, how much Bush needs them in 2004?
it be, "You're on your own, Karl. We've done all
is the time to ask.
Manion [send him mail] is president of Manion
Music, LLC, which produces copyrighted, royalty-free
music collections for telecommunications media
and commercial and hospitality sites that use
background music or music-on-hold. He writes from
the Shenandoah Valley.
© Christopher Manion 2003. All Rights reserved.
Posted: December 12, 2003