WHEN YOU HELP THE SHEPHERD...
Writing for Time's Swampland blog, Amy Sullivan speculates as to why Rick Perry seems to be the presidential choice of the best-known Evangelicals, rather than Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum:
...no one questions the social conservative credentials of Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann. But Santorum's poll numbers in Iowa are smaller than the number of children he has. And while Bachmann has been on a hot streak since the first candidate's debate, Christian Right leaders continue to be far less willing to embrace her (or Sarah Palin, for that matter) than the rank-and-file or more secular politicos. Is that sexism at work? Possibly. Maybe even probably. But geography is an important factor as well. Many Christian Right leaders think the GOP primary schedule favors a Southern candidate. And southern Minnesota does not count.
So that's it? Sexism and regionalism?
I have a different theory. Let's move on to Sullivan's explanation of why Perry is so well regarded by the Evangelical leaders:
... the Texas governor is ... a terrific match for the Christian Right. Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches recently outlined Perry's social conservative bona fides and they're impressive:
* Signed a gay marriage ban into law at a Christian school in Fort Worth with evangelical heavyweights Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Rod Parsley (Ohio mega-church pastor), and Don Wildmon (American Family Association) in attendance
* The Sunday before his 2006 re-election, Perry attended Cornerstone Church and sat by the side of controversial pastor John Hagee (in 2008, John McCain had to reject Hagee’s endorsement after critics pointed out the pastor’s many extreme statements, including calling the Catholic Church “the whore of Babylon”)
* Supported and was a primary beneficiary of the Texas Restoration Project, an effort to increase the electoral involvement of conservative pastors
All of this, however, pales beside Perry's current project-- a Christian all-day prayer event called "The Response" on August 6 in Houston. The governor is sponsoring the event along with the American Family Association....
Do you see a subtle pattern emerging? I do: Evangelical leaders like Perry because Perry shamelessly sucks up to them.
It's really not that confusing. He feeds their egos. He makes them feel as if it's still 1981 and they'd be as close to power as it's possible to be if he were elected president. Bachmann and Santorum and the rest just need to do a little more butt-kissing.
(Post title based on Jim Bakker's immortal words to Jessica Hahn in flagrante.)