Stated or not, the extreme right, the real audience intended to be won over by the Palin choice, will be eagerly anticipating her becoming president at the earliest possible date. They will be looking for her to have influence even while McCain is in office. The cynicism of choosing someone at odds with his one-time positions on major issues for the purpose of getting in the Oval Office could be among the most irresponsible actions ever taken by the presidential candidate of a major party.
McCain’s choice was to give a person from the quite far-right the greatest boost someone from that extreme has ever been given.
You can well imagine that if he is elected John McCain will immediately join the less rabidly right wing members of the Supreme Court on the list of those whose deaths are fervently prayed for by the far right. We know the list exists, they’ve openly talked about it on TV.
Conservative women became a powerful tool for the party, and everyone was willing to overlook the cost to their personal lives. If a conservative Christian mother chose to pursue a full-time career in, say, landscape gardening or the law, she was abandoning her family. But if she chose public service, she was furthering the godly cause. No one discussed the sticky domestic details: Did she have a (gasp!) nanny? Did her husband really rule the roost anymore? Who said prayers with the kids every night? As long as she was seen now and again with her children, she could get away with any amount of power.
I am not arguing that large numbers of conservative Christians will refuse to vote for the Republican ticket because they disapprove of Palin. But we should be aware that this pick was controversial within the evangelical Christian community as well as among other segments of the Republican base.
Even with Palin at his side, I do not think McCain will inspire as large an army of volunteer Christian soldiers as Bush did four years ago.
Based on the little bit that they know about Palin and her religious beliefs, these guys are ready to pray for the death of a president and all the risky disruption that would go with that. Their desire for a theocracy where they can dictate the moral lives of others completely trumps any rational or practical considerations. They live in dream-like bubble entirely defined by their hatred of other Americans.
So far, this is just the isolated rantings of two bloggers who do not officially speak for any major church or group. But how many others out there share their feelings? Last year Rev. Wiley Drake, then Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, called on his followers to pray to God to smite the staff of Americans United for Separation of Church and State because they filed a complaint against him with the IRS for violating his church’s tax exempt status.
The most extreme elements of the religious right are not happy with McCain as their standard bearer. Many were disappointed by Huckabee’s rise and fall. Now they see another chance to put one of their own in office with Palin. We can probably expect to see more of this kind of imprecatory prayer (literally calling on God to damn someone). The Secret Service should keep an eye on this and make sure they limit there actions to prayer. After all, many of these same people come from the wing of the anti-abortion movement that cheers on doctor killers.
The first polls after the announcement showed a small move (around 5%) of Republican women (but not men) from the mildly-support to the strongly-support column. So, some strengthening of support in the base. But the same polls showed a small move away from McCain by the independents and undecideds of both sexes. I did not see any new polls after the Palin speech at the convention.
So, some are excited, some are not, some are a little bit too excited. In any case, these are not good news – for McCain.