Faith and values at the Republican presidential debate

Eric Gay AP Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, center, speaks as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, … Continued

Eric Gay


Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, center, speaks as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, listen during a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011.

Thursday night’s at-points-intriguing Fox GOP debate featured a few exchanges of interest to those of us who study faith and values politicking.

Rick Perry Tebows Himself: The Governor of Texas paralleled himself to the Denver Broncos’ conservative Christian quarterback and fourth-quarter messiah, Tim Tebow: “There were a lot of folks who said Tim Tebow wasn’t going to be a very good NFL quarterback . . I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucus.”

Perry, who looked positively ebullient all night long–he kept reminding me of beloved Hollywood Square Paul Lynde for some reason– was so pleased with the comparison that he seemed about to ask Michele Bachmann to go run an out pattern.

Depicting himself as the evangelical Comeback Kid–a pretty canny bit of re-branding that was.

Gingrich Assails the Judiciary: Radical atheists help him make that point: Many of us in the secular community have been urging–begging actually– nonbelievers and radical separationists to choose their court battles wisely.

When the former Speaker of the House invoked Michael Newdow’s quest of a decade ago to have the term “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance (approved by the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco), I could only intone a dreary “uh-oh.”

Newdow’s intervention, as you may recall, didn’t work out too well for American secularists. The outraged Senate in 2002 voted 99-0 to “reaffirm the language of the pledge,” the House, 416-3!

Newdow’s legal pursuits, regardless of their intelligence and even their legal elegance, continue to place secularism on the defensive. Tonight, the highly unpopular Pledge case served as a cover for Newt’s utterly preposterous idea that the legislative branch could check the judiciary simply because it didn’t agree with its decisions. (To their credit, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman called attention to the zaniness of this proposition).

Fox News Understands that Iowa Voters Care about Abortion: I have been complaining for months about GOP debates that ignore the “social issues.” Fox–which serves up a pretty good debate, I think–avoided this puzzling omission.

Michele Bachmann seemed to disorient Newt Gingrich by questioning his pro-life credentials: “When Newt Gingrich was speaker he had an opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood and he decided not to take it . . . he [also] campaigned for candidates who were in favor of partial-birth abortion.”

This led Gingrich to question Bachmann’s grip on the facts. That accusation elicited a riposte from the Minnesota congresswoman that, if I am not mistaken, was tinged with the sentiment that Gingrich was being condescending in a sexist sort of way. Rick Santorum, for his part, touted his record on partial-birth abortion, all the while Mitt Romney fended off the accusation that on questions of choice he was “multiple choice” (to invoke Ted Kennedy’s devastating zinger of yesteryear).

Ron Paul. Whoa. I think America had its Ron Paul moment tonight. I rarely agree with the man, but to his credit he was authentic and unflipflopping to a fault. His dissent on the necessity of American intervention in Iran (and militarism in general) was simply stunning in its willingness to tell GOP voters things they do not want to (or perhaps never?) hear.

By the same token, his blindness on Iran is equally stunning. Bachmann and Santorum, in so many words, kept asking him “what part of ‘wipe Israel off the map’ don’t you understand?”

Prediction: Ron Paul will do well in Iowa and for the rest of the campaign the specter of a third-party run will terrify the GOP establishment.

Who Won?: Newt looked good, but was savaged twice by a feisty Bachmann. The representative from Minnesota gave Iowans 1.6 millions reasons to question Gingrich’s involvement with Freddie Mac. Mitt, for his part, did that statesmanlike, even-keeled thing that he always does. Jon Huntsman, dissing tax pledges, Donald Trump, and judicial deactivism (see above), has me interested.

  • devinesara

    Faith and values don’t vote for war. Donate to the Ron Paul Tea Party Moneybomb today (12-16).

  • ResistTheTyranny

    No report on how Ron Paul did? How well he did? That leaves me to believe that Fox, CNN are all controlled media and only report on Newt and Romney also know as New World Order!
    Support Ron Paul and resist this tyranny we live in!

  • persiflage

    ‘Prediction: Ron Paul will do well in Iowa and for the rest of the campaign the specter of a third-party run will terrify the GOP establishment.’

    3rd party candidate indeed! And Ron Paul is just the spoiler that will clinch it for Obama in 2012 – this election cycle is bound to be his last hurrah, so he may as well go out in style.

    Voters are most assuredly not putting anyone pushing 80 in the Oval Office. ‘Faith and values’ is and has been the republican mantra for some time – this smokescreen has been in place since they ran out of good ideas just about the time Ronald Reagan was taking office. Reaganomics essentially brought down the economy.

    Still, given that 50% of the voting public could conceivably vote for one of these republican numbskulls while totally ignoring their abiding, single-minded devotion to the 1%, it will probably not be a cakewalk for Obama.

    We have to hope that sanity prevails, and that Obama and company get another 4 very necessary years to resurrect this economy. On the other hand, If congress remains divided this will never happen.

  • anarchteacher

    As the great Lord Acton famously observed: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Newton Leroy Gingrich is self-absorbed, hubristic and arrogant. He is the aging poster boy for crony corporatism, as his corrosive “relationship” with FreddieMac demonstrated.

    Gingrich callously ignored his oath of office to support the Constitution and his marriage vows.

    Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against Speaker Gingrich during his term. After extensive investigation and negotiation by the House Ethics Committee, Gingrich was sanctioned US$300,000 by a 395-28 House vote. It was the first time in history a speaker was disciplined for ethical wrongdoing.

    This neocon chicken hawk is a serial hypocrite, serial adulterer, and serial warmonger. Insatiable lust for power and women have brought down such men. Remember Napoleon? And Callista sure ain’t no Josephine!

  • ramseytuell

    What Gingrich was implying was that if the courts continued to try to legislate from the bench, as President, he would stick their nose in it and make the people aware of what they were doing or not doing that was wrong. And that is exactly what we need from all three branches. When one branch steps out of line it is the responsibility of the other two to take action within the limits of the Constitution. And I know of no better of doing a massive recall that through use of our votes.

  • MountainWestBob

    Newt’s understanding of history is shallow and rocky. He’s a self-proclaimed conservative, and they claim to be partial to the original intent of the founding fathers as expressed in the constitution. Yet, he want’s the judiciary to be beholdin’ to Congress, and to be term-limited. Now, I’m a liberal, but think my understanding of and commitment to the ‘original intent’ is more faithful than Newt’s.

  • catatonicjones

    Newt Gingrich looks like my grandmother, probably wears the same size bra.
    That is, if he grew a little mustache.