Reprinted from The Satirical Political Report

Proving once again that his inside access as a journalist is unparalleled, Bob Woodward, appearing today with Larry King, discussed his exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein -- conducted just moments before the deposed Iraqi dictator was hanged for his crimes.

Wearing the black hood of the executioner to conceal his identity, a trick he learned during Watergate days from Deep Throat, Woodward extracted truly remarkable revelations from Saddam, even as Woodward placed the noose around the doomed man's neck.

The transcript released by Woodward reveals that Saddam was strongly opposed to the U.S. invasion, but was reluctant to publicly criticize the Bush Administration, according to the longstanding protocol of honor among thieves.

Hussein also confesses to Woodward that although he always despised Bush 41 for kicking him out of Kuwait, he subsequently developed a grudging respect for the old man, especially after witnessing the rank incompetence of his son, who he referred to as the "not so great Satan."


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No, the Dems Did Not Win Because of "Faith Voters"

Another day, another story suggesting that "faith voters" are the key to the Democratic majorities. Today's culprit: The New York Times' David D. Kirkpatrick.

As Democrats turn toward the 2008 presidential race, a novice evangelical political operative is emerging as a rising star in the party, drawing both applause and alarm for her courtship of theological conservatives in the midterm elections.

Party strategists and nonpartisan pollsters credit the operative, Mara Vanderslice, and her 2-year-old consulting firm, Common Good Strategies, with helping a handful of Democratic candidates make deep inroads among white evangelical and churchgoing Roman Catholic voters in Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Exit polls show that Ms. Vanderslice's candidates did 10 percentage points or so better than Democrats nationally among those voters, who make up about a third of the electorate. As a group, Democrats did little better among those voters than Senator John Kerry's campaign did in 2004.


Ms. Vanderslice's success in 2006 is a sharp rebound from her first campaign, in 2004. She was hired, at age 29, to direct religious outreach for Mr. Kerry in his presidential campaign and was then quickly shoved aside, a casualty of a losing battle to persuade him to speak more openly about his Catholic faith, even if it meant taking on the potentially awkward subject of his support for abortion rights.

The midterm elections were a "proof point" for arguments that Ms. Vanderslice had made two years before, said Mike McCurry, a Democratic consultant and former spokesman for President Bill Clinton who worked with Ms. Vanderslice on the Kerry campaign. For the Democrats, Mr. McCurry said, Ms. Vanderslice and her company "were the only ones taking systematic, methodical steps to build a religious component in the practical campaign work."

Looking at numbers across the board, it's difficult to see any real gains made by Democrats among religiously observant voters. As I detailed not long after election day, Evangelicals and regular churchgoers moved from the Republicans to the Democrats at a far lower rate in 2006 than both the nation as a whole and actual swing demographics, like Hispanics and those without a high school diploma. While it's certainly possible that these "faith" outreach exercises helped swing non-Evangelicals and those who infrequently attend religious services while failing to substantially move these other segments, I have not seen data to prove that to be true.

And even if it is true that, as Kirkpatrick writes, "Vanderslice's candidates did 10 percentage points or so better than Democrats nationally among those voters" it's not entirely clear to me that this is a result of her actions. What's more, it's not entirely clear what this means -- that, in absolute terms, they did better or, accounting for other factors, they did better. My guess is that the former is the case, that a candidate like Bob Casey ran a net 11 points stronger than Democrats nationally in his race against Rick Santorum and so running 10 points better than other Democrats among religious voters is not quite as astonishing a feat as it seems on the surface.

But in some ways this is beside the point. Vanderslice and others like her might be worth an investment from Democratic candidates because they do help with outreach to a certain segment of the population that Democrats have had some trouble in reaching. Yet this segment is closely aligned with the GOP -- White Evangelicals voted about a net 50 points more Republican than the nation as a whole, those attending church at least weekly voted a net 19 points more Republican than the nation as a whole -- and the Democrats do not need them in order to win elections (as we saw on November 7). The Democrats would be significantly better served by investing to shore up the gains they made among Hispanics, those without a high school diploma, and other groups that shifted dramatically away from the GOP in 2006, thus solidifying their majority, than they would continuing the essentially quixotic and perhaps even futile attempt to steal away "faith voters" from the Republican Party.

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Reprinted from The Satirical Political Report

In a dramatic turnabout from its previous harsh condemnation, the Christian Coalition has decided to embrace Dick Cheney's pregnant lesbian daughter, claiming that she's actually the Second Coming of the Virgin Mary.

Reached at his offices at Liberty University, the Reverend Jerry Falwell conceded that the Christian Right had been shortsighted in trying to boot this Mary out of the manger, when she actually offered a tremendous upside to the evangelical cause.

"Let's face it," Falwell stated, "she is a 'Mary,' she's probably technically a virgin, and it wouldn't really surprise me if her life partner was a carpenter."


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So Much for Finding Comity with the Religious Right...

One of the bits of common wisdom that emerged during the period between the last two elections was that White Evangelical voters were the key to George W. Bush's reelection and thus the Democrats would need to actively court such voters if they were interested in winning in future contests. To this end, it was thought that the Democrats should find issues upon which they agreed with such "faith voters", most notably the environment.

If November 7 showed us anything, it was that the Democrats clearly do not need the suppport of Evangelical voters in order to create an electoral majority. And a report by Neela Banerjee in today's issue of The New York Times should put to rest the theory that the religious right is at all interested forging any semblence of compromise or comity with progressives, be it on social issues or even issues such as the environment.

The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, which has long served as a model for activism for the religious right, has stepped down, saying the group resisted his efforts to broaden its agenda to include reducing poverty and fighting global warming.

The Rev. Joel C. Hunter, pastor of a Florida megachurch, was named the group's president-elect in July. He was to have taken over the presidency in January from Roberta Combs, who is also the chairwoman of the Christian Coalition's board. Mrs. Combs will continue in both positions now.


"We're a political organization, and there's a way to do things, like taking a survey of your members and seeing what they need," [Combs] said. "Joel had a different way of doing things, so he just went out there."


[Hunter] said that many evangelical leaders hewed to narrow moral issues because they were "deathly afraid of being labeled a liberal by other Christians, the media, talk radio."

Now it is certainly true that the Christian Coalition does not speak for all Christians or even all Evangelicals. In fact, the Coalition probably has less clout today than it has had in many years. Nonetheless, the reluctance of the Coalition's leadership to expand its range of issues beyond those it has contested in years past is likely indicative of the sentiment of momement supporters as a whole. As I've noted before, religiously observant voters were significantly less open to voting Democratic this year than other segments of the broader population, with those who attend church more than weekly barely budging at all, moving to the Democrats by a net 8 less points than the general electorate. White Evangelicals supported Republicans to the tune of 70 percent.

While some will no doubt continue to tell us that the Democrats that they need to give up on some of their issues (particularly ones relatiing to abortion and equal rights for all Americans, including homosexuals) and that can steal away "faith voters" from the Republicans by appealing on issues like the environment, it should be plain to any serious watcher of politics that not only do the Democrats not need to do this but that by doing so the Democrats threaten to lose whatever gains they made earlier this week. That is not to say that the Democrats should not keep an open tent, but only that the so-called "low-lying fruit" among Evangelicals (those who theoretically are aching to vote Democratic -- but only if there is outreach) aren't quite as low-lying as many believe.

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The Real Thanksgiving Story (political cartoon)

Crossposted from Town Called Dobson

click to enlarge

The sad thing is, I actually know people who think this way.

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