Once again, prematurely sanguine Democrats are caught scratching their heads over the recent drops in their poll numbers and the price of oil. Darn the bad luck. What is an imploding opposition party to do?
Well, now that the well has gone dry on their portraying the GOP as one giant oil cartel bent on gouging consumers, where can they turn?
How about national security? That's not such a slam-dunk either, to borrow former CIA Director George Tenet's terminology, since sagacious voters rightly see Democrats as offering no alternative agenda in the war on terror. They do a masterful job slandering President Bush, but in the process of undermining his prosecution of the war in every particular, they don't inspire confidence about their fitness to lead the nation in war.
How about values issues? If they could narrow the gap here, they might just ease back into control of Congress in November, no?
It seems that every other week since late 2004, when presidential exit polls revealed that "values voters" were one of the largest voter blocs and that they preferred Republicans, Democratic leaders have been lurching for their Bibles and meeting with consultants to discuss how to repackage their moral message to better connect with these ephemeral Cro-Magnon types lurking in the bowels of red-state "Jesus Land." They are doing it again this week.
Far be it from me to promote my new book "Bankrupt," but I must confess that I devote two full chapters to this values phenomenon, detailing how the Democratic leadership has been desperately trying to appeal to those same Christian conservatives they have been ridiculing for years.
As noted, the Democrats' problem with values voters is not one of semantics, linguistics or packaging. It is not one that can be cured, for example, by John Kerry sauntering into a Midwestern gun store and saying, "Can I get me a hunting license here?"
Despite the backwardness of the dueling-banjo strumming, reality-challenged among us, we know an authentic peddler of moral values when we see one. Citing Scripture here and there isn't going to do the trick.
The Democrats' failure to connect with values voters has not been the result of a poorly articulated message. Their problem is precisely the opposite: They have communicated their values message all too well. They don't have much respect for traditional values, and even less for those who promote them.
But don't take my word for it. Check out the voluminous citations in my book to see how the left has indicted itself in this department.
I didn't include in my book Rosie O'Donnell's recent outburst comparing Christian fundamentalists to Islamic fundamentalists because she didn't have the decency to utter it before we went to print. But I do quote her soul mate Maureen Dowd, columnist for The New York Times, saying the same thing and also comparing Christian conservatives to "a vengeful mob revved up by rectitude."
"Objection," you say. These enlightened ladies, these paragons of liberal tolerance and inclusiveness are hardly representative of the Democratic Party. Well, then, how about ole' Howard Dean, the very chairman of the DNC? He said the GOP is a party of white Christians and that he doesn't have to take moral lectures from us because we don't have any morals. We're the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
Or how about the congenial Robert Reich, Labor Secretary under President Clinton? Reich said the true battle for the 21st century is going to be between modern civilization and the anti-modernists, between those who believe in science, reason and logic, and those who get their truth from divine revelation and religious dogma. "Terrorism," said Reich, "destroys life, but it's not the greatest danger we face."
Senator Joe Biden admitted that the elites of his party look down their noses at people of faith. How right he is. Yet in the next breath Biden said, "Bush uses religion in a way to avoid having to know the hard things." Other leftists, like political and theological scholar and actor Ben Affleck, say Bush substitutes religion for learning and informing himself on important issues, and "touting religion absent of any thought is almost criminal." Bill Maher says Bush prays when he should be learning.
And these people wonder why liberal Democrats don't resonate with many churchgoers?
So when you hear John Kerry waxing eloquent about Scripture and values -- while telling us he is pro-choice despite believing life begins at conception -- ask yourself whether he would more closely identify with Robert Reich, Maureen Dowd and Rosie O'Donnell on values, or us regressive Neanderthals.