Far Right Continues to Self-Destruct
Falwell's Latest Anti-Gay Attack, Turmoil in Christian Coalition Leadership, Devastating Election Study Demonstrate Urgent Change of GOP Direction
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Two brewing controversies today signaled the political
deterioration of social conservatives on the national political stage,
further heightening the urgent need for the Republican Party leadership to
move away from the far right and its leaders.
"How much more embarrassment will it take for the Republican leadership to move away from these people?" said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "I have advice for all the Republican officials who were shaking their heads when they read about this today. How about you stop inviting Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to speak at our conventions from now on?"
Reverend Jerry Falwell, among the main far right leaders courted by the Republican Party leadership for years, announced today that a character on the popular children's television show "Teletubbies" is "role-modeling the gay lifestyle." The character, called Tinky Winky, "is purple -- the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the gay-pride symbol," according to the February issue of Falwell's National Liberty Journal. The comments followed Falwell's statement last month that "the anti-Christ is alive today" and is "very likely a Jew."
At the same time, Donald Hodel, president of the Christian Coalition, resigned in a bitter dispute with Pat Robertson, founder of the organization, over Robertson's "repeated blunders" on his "700 Club" television show and his about-face on the impeachment trial of President Clinton, according to the Washington Times. In a front page story, the Times quoted a Republican source as saying that "Christian Coalition members were calling up and resigning." Robertson has now named himself president and chairman of the organization after Hodel's departure.
Both controversies came on the same day the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, a leading voter research organization, released its final report on the 1998 elections. Its analysis included a section on "the defeat of the socially conservative right."
"With the single exception of [Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL)], running against a largely doomed candidate," the CSAE report concluded, "all candidates from the social conservative wing of the GOP in competitive statewide races lost, indicating that the advocacy based on hostility to government, opposition to abortion and flag burning, for prayer in the schools and similar nostrums may not be able to provide the votes for electoral victory beyond districts that are already drawn to insure [GOP success]."
"It was not only the defeat of more socially conservative candidates which showed that tendency might be out-of-touch with the electorate," the CSAE report stated, "but the results of ballot propositions across the nation which showed a moderating trend within the electorate."
Yet still, six GOP presidential aspirants met last week with the Committee for the Restoration of American Values, an umbrella of far right leaders and organizations, including the Christian Coalition, that is litmus-testing candidates for the 2000 GOP nomination on issues such as banning abortion, anti-gay discrimination, whether they use the term "gaming or gambling," removing the words "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency and whether they will place a crèche on the White House lawn to provoke a Supreme Court case.
Meanwhile, Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, made a "sobering assessment of the problems facing the GOP" at a House Republican retreat last weekend, according to Roll Call. Davis "commissioned a major poll to gauge the party's popularity," the newspaper reported, "which paints a gloomy picture for the GOP, but it shows the party can recover ..." The newspaper quoted an unnamed source familiar with the poll saying: "The patient is in the hospital, but he's not dead yet."
"The evidence is clear that a GOP candidate who links up with any of these far right leaders is automatically unelectable," Tafel said. "The Congressional leadership will hopefully follow suit and move to the mainstream."
Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay Republican organization, with state and local chapters nationwide, a federal political action committee and a national office headquartered in Washington, D.C. Log Cabin Republicans will sponsor a panel discussion on the future of the Republican Party on Tuesday, February 16 at 10:00am at the National Press Club.