Sarah Posner is sitting through the muck of the Values Voters Summit, and after the first morning, it seems that, with the exception of Mitt Romney, there is no clear delineation between government and religion for these people:
[T]o win over this crowd, the presidential hopefuls — and tea party king- and queenmakers like Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint — have to know how to preach it. That was something that some speakers this morning — DeMint and Bachmann, as well as Mike Huckabee and Mike Pence, had down. They all tapped into the “founding principles,” “Judeo-Christian” foundation, and other code, but they did more. They wept; they told stories about soldiers and family members; they evoked imagery of mountains climbed and enemies vanquished.
Mitt Romney, though? Not so much. Speaking directly after Pence, who since the inaugural Values Voters Summit in 2006, has always invoked the language of the religious right base, Romney was at a disadvantage. He was boring, technocratic, and business-like, and the audience wasn’t buying his claim to be on their side on abortion and gay marriage.
In contrast, Huckabee knew how to play the big-bad government card, claiming that the crisis we face is not “fiscal,” but “moral” — in other words, if everyone was just good and “Judeo-Christian” we wouldn’t need financial regulation. (Good luck with that!) See, for Huckabee, if people were moral, then there wouldn’t be juvenile delinquency and we wouldn’t spend government money on programs for juvenile delinquents. It’s a common refrain on the right now — especially as the religious right — that economic prosperity flows from everyone falling in lock-step with their “Judeo-Christian values.”
Huckabee elaborated: “the bigger problem with the Democrats,” he said, “is not that they don’t share our values but that they don’t share our story” — in other words, not just their version of American history, and the intentions of the founders, but their story of what government is supposed to do and not do.
It’s true that liberals and moderates don’t “share their story,” because it’s just that: a story. It has no basis in historical fact, but rather is something that wingnuts tell themselves in order to bolster their image as “The Real ‘Murrikans.”
I’m not surprised that Mitt Romney isn’t going over well, either. Aside from his Mormonism, he appears too levelheaded to go over with this crowd, and that’s why I highly doubt he’ll be the Republican nominee in 2012. The order of the day for right-wingers is “the crazier, the better.” They need people who will obsessively help them further drive a wedge between themselves and the rest of the population that they view as unclean. They need people who will erect straw demons for them to fight at will. For the average attendee at the Values Voters Summit, so many things can be brought back to the classic [mostly imaginary] battle between good and evil, and that psychosis is so entrenched that anyone who dares to craft a message that might appeal to normal people is going to be dead on arrival.
More as it comes.