Saturday, July 12, 2008

Opening The Door

In his latest gambit to garner more of the electorate, U.S. Senator and presumptive democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, has made what might well prove to be a fatal election error. Making a pitch to solidify the southern black vote and perhaps add some Christian conservatives to his base, Mr. Obama has decided to make faith a cornerstone of his campaign.

The issue has been addressed here before, but, what's new is that nothing is new--at least not anything positive for Mr. Obama.

In fact, at this point, the only true positive to come out of Mr. Obama's faith-based campaigning has been to the advantage of Senator and presumptive republican presidential nominee, John McCain.

Prior to calling for greater faith-based initiatives should he attain the oval office, Mr. Obama was regarded as a religious person from a left-wing Church. Now, he is regarded as a religious opportunist by his long-time detractors and as a traitor by some long-time supporters.

The differing views on Mr. Obama's call for increased faith-based initiatives are not surprising--at least not to those outside of camp Obama. Those Democrats who find salvation outside of religious institutions view Mr. Obama's pronouncement with broad skepticism, recalling similar programs by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush and how those programs were used to gloss over problems that such programs are ill-equipped to address. For these Democrats, what is disconcerting is not so much that Mr. Obama values faith and organized religion, but that he possibly values both at a cost to more pressing concerns, such as how to deal with faltering banks, a weak economy, looming international issues, and the war in Iraq.

Like these democratic skeptics of Mr. Obama's call for increased funding for faith-based initiatives, conservatives who favor faith-based initiatives as a stepping stone to breaking down the vestiges of the wall separating church and state--at least in so far as that wall pertains soley to Judeo-Christian faiths--have little more than contempt for Mr. Obama. In Mr. Obama's faith-based platform, Christian conservatives see a Democrat attempting nothing more than to connive otherwise Republican voters.

It's a lose-lose proposition for Mr. Obama, yet he continues to play the game--and without even the prospect of being able to claim that he is doing what is right as the entire matter is fraught with subjectivity.

Worse yet for Mr. Obama is that his pandering undoubtedly has improved Christian conservatives' views of Mr. McCain. Long viewed with suspicion for bucking orthodoxy and refusing to participate in the right-wing's assault on Americans' religious sensibilities, Christian conservatives no doubt now consider Mr. McCain a solid ally--if for no other reason than that he has never wavered in his position on religion, except, perhaps, to drift modestly toward the right on religious wedge issues such as abortion and stem cell research.

If Mr. Obama loses the 2008 presidential election, he may well have his determination to court the religious right to blame. And, in an election that will be tighter than most now are predicting, it is not difficult to imagine such a scenario playing out.

Up Next: More Surrogating.

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