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August 16, 2007

Democrats Failing on the Religion Front; Candidates Trying God Talk

White House hopeful Joe Biden said that Democrats lost the last two presidential elections in part because they let themselves be portrayed as anti-God, FoxNews reports.

"Democrats have been too afraid to talk about faith, Biden said at a Rotary Club luncheon. But what voters really want to know is whether a president believes in something bigger than themselves and whether he or she respects the faith of others," he said.

This was discussed on Hardball by Chris Matthews and Time magazine's Michael Duffy.

MATTHEWS: Joe Biden, who tends to be very honest, whatever you think of him as the next president, although I think he‘s a fine guy, he very clearly said the other day, yesterday, that the people like Al Gore and John Kerry, the last two Democratic candidate for president, said—created an image that they were somehow—we‘re looking at it right now—that if they were—as he put it, when they‘re sitting next to the pew, that maybe he really doesn‘t respect your view.

In other words, they are not really religious people. They don‘t share your evangelical views and your deeply religious views. They are too secular.

DUFFY: Yes. Well, I think, for the last 25 years, Democrats have done everything they can to alienate religious voters, faith-minded voters. And the...


MATTHEWS: Not a smart move politically.

DUFFY: Oh, no. And it seemed to be part of the program. They did it to woo a secular left that they thought didn‘t want to have anything to do with that.

MATTHEWS: Was turned off by the religious people, yeah.

DUFFY: Starting with Jimmy Carter and...


MATTHEWS: I hear it.


MATTHEWS: I have heard it years of...

DUFFY: Right. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... people making fun of Jimmy—or Jerry Falwell and people like that. But you knew it was a broader brush than that.

DUFFY: Of course.

MATTHEWS: They were really making fun of the people in the churches, in the tents, in the mega-churches.

DUFFY: Right. It was a really stupid thing to do. And they have begun to realize that.

An important distinction is between political efforts to be seen as responsive to God's leading and respectful to people of genuine faith, and actually having those attributes. In this year's presidential debates and discussions, you can tell the candidates who have actively sought a relationship with God and those who have had a conversion--not on the way to Damascus, but on the way to Des Moines (as one candidate quipped).

Among those I've heard, Huckabee, Brownback, Romney and Obama (and maybe Edwards) are the only candidates who seem comfortable discussing spiritual matters. Great awkwardness from most other frontrunners: Clinton, Guiliani, Thompson, McCain.

Posted by Jim at August 16, 2007 01:20 PM

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"said that Democrats lost the last two presidential elections in part because they let themselves be portrayed as anti-God"

Uh - well, yeah. I'm sure that couldn't be because there might be any truth in that, right? For some odd reason this article makes some bits bounce around in the ol' noodle. Odds'n'ends having to do with Zebras and stripes, fruit and knowung. Huh, odd, that.

Posted by: plodon at August 17, 2007 07:04 PM