evangelical bloc

The Donald Trump Show (Artful Dodger)

Donald Trump.

“Watching the video, it’s hard not to get the impression that Trump almost certainly hasn’t read the Bible; he probably doesn’t have a favorite verse; and the GOP White House hopeful has no idea what the differences are between the Old and New Testaments.”

Steve Benen

Uh … ya think?

The thing is that Donald Trump is clearly pulling a really simple sales bit; indeed, as annoying as we might find the man, we might also sympathize with the part of him that wrestles with the question of whether or not he believes they’re really gobbling it up like this.

(more…)

A Meandering Consideration of Absolutism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, 3 March 2015.  (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Maybe it’s an unfortunate hallmark of contemporary conservative thought?”

Steve Benen

Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan offers an interesting consideration:

It’s looking more and more like Benjamin Netanyahu committed a strategic blunder in so ferociously opposing the Iran nuclear deal and in rallying his American allies to spend all their resources on a campaign to kill the deal in Congress.

SlateIf current trends hold, the Israeli prime minister and his stateside lobbyists—mainly AIPAC—are set to lose this fight. It’s politically risky for Israel’s head of state to go up against the president of his only big ally and benefactor; it’s catastrophic to do so and come away with nothing. Similarly, it’s a huge defeat for AIPAC, whose power derives from an image of invincibility. American politicians and donors might get the idea that the group isn’t so invincible after all, that they can defy its wishes, now and then, without great risk.

It would have been better for Netanyahu—and for Israel—had he maybe grumbled about the Iran deal but not opposed it outright, let alone so brazenly. He could have pried many more favors from Obama in exchange for his scowl-faced neutrality. Not that Obama, or any other American president, will cut Israel off; but relations will remain more strained, and requests for other favors (for more or bigger weapons, or for certain votes in international forums) will be scrutinized more warily, than they would have been.

There is, of course, much more to Kaplan’s consideration, including the implications of current Congressional momentum and the widening gap between the credibility of favoring and opposing arguments. Toward the latter, he notes, “Most criticisms of the deal actually have nothing to do with the deal”, and that’s about as least unfavorable as his critique of the criticism gets.

(more…)

Your “Say What?” Update

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus stands on stage at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Here’s a proposition: About one-third of our body politic will attend an all-expenses paid trip to Israel, chaperoned by an anti-Jewish political advocacy group; what could possibly go wrong?

If you’re just picking up on the story, Ben Schreckinger brings us the latest version, in which we pause to consider how the right wing is responding. Because, you know, between the RNC, its premillennial dispensationalist evangelical bloc, and pro-Israeli hardliners, nobody could have foreseen this particular conflict arising, could they? Oh, the poor right wing. Actually, that’s not really fair. But you’ll note that no part of Schreckinger’s article―not even the parts covering the Anti-Defamation League―has anything to say about the AFA’s anti-Judaic posturing.

In interviews with POLITICO on Monday, evangelical leaders and right-leaning groups said the national party showed poor judgment at best in associating with “extremists,” as evangelical Alan Noble described the groups. AFA has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center — a description it has disputed.

“It creates a problem of the RNC appearing to pander to the most extreme elements of the religious right,” said Warren Throckmorton, a lifelong Republican and conservative evangelical leader from Pennsylvania.

Said Noble, managing editor of the evangelical publication Christ and Pop Culture and an assistant professor at Oklahoma Baptist University: “I’m at a loss for why they think that this is a good idea. It’s disappointing. As someone who is conservative and evangelical, I think there are a lot of conservative evangelical groups that the RNC can work with … that are not extreme and hurtful and un-Christian.”

And if that is enough of a temptation to actually dig into the story, Rachel Maddow actually ran a couple segments last week:

“American Family Association fires Bryan Fischer ahead of RNC trip to Israel” (28 Jan. 2015)

“Religious bigotry haunts group hosting RNC (29 Jan. 2015)

____________________

Schreckinger, Ben. “Right attacks RNC over Israel trip”. Politico. 2 February 2015.