Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Reframing the Culture Wars: Rove Backs Away from the Christian Right

Reframing the culture wars, an issue that feels newly relevant as pundits and real people debate the potential batting order for the presidential race in 2008...

(original post 7 Nov 2004)
Karl Rove is so smart it’s scary. He’s already downplaying the importance of abortion and gay marriage in W’s victory. (see the Meet the Press
transcript) And trying to blame the media for the morals debate instead. It’s not about gays and abortion. It’s about what’s on TV. To a certain extent, I actually agree that’s true. The role of the east coast and west coast big media in stoking the flames of cultural war and rebellion must not be underestimated. The prominence of Will and Grace and Queer Eye aren’t helping democrats any, believe me. Despite that, Reverend Dobson and the Christian right are NOT going to be happy with this looser interpretation of values and their role in the election.

On Meet the Press, Russert asked Rove, “when you read or see or hear moral values what does that mean?”

Rove: “Well I think it’s people who are concerned about the coarseness of our culture. About what they see on the television sets. What they see in the movies. What they read in the newspapers. How they see the values of the country.”

Russert: But, how about the exit polls indicating morals were a definitive factor in the elections?

Rove: “I do have a little bit of a different view of those numbers. First of all if you take Iraq and terrorism and aggregate em, which I think are different sides of the same coin, 34% of the electorate are concerned with, if you will, the security issue. If you taxes and the economy and aggregate them, they’re 25% of the electorate. And then moral values is 3rd. That’s not to denigrate the importance of moral values, which have been traditionally about 16% of the electorate - had been concerned with that as their number one issue - in past races.

“What essentially happened in this race was, people became concerned about 3 issues: 1st the war; then the economy, jobs, and taxes; then moral values. And then everything else dropped off the plate. And security grew the most in comparison with past races but values grew 2nd, the 2nd most amount.”

Right, right, and right. So, Russert asks, how does Rove think the president can/should implement laws to address this type of moral value - coarseness of culture?

Rove suggests a variety of moderate measures: laws that "protect the weak", the partial birth abortion ban, the Lacey Peterson law, letting community based organizations play a bigger role in helping the poor, and the global aids initiative.
It's a long list. What's not mentioned? No same sex marriage ban, no outlawing abortion. Asked if Bush has a debt owed to the Christian right, Rove will only say: “The president has an obligation to serve all the people of America.”

If they’re smart, unlike Rev. Dobson, the Christian right will take Rove’s cues, tread lightly right now and fly under the radar later to get things done on their agenda. But are they as smart as Karl? Under his tutelage, they just might be.

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