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October 24, 2006

Where Did that Chair Go?

While the mid-term elections are still two weeks away, it's not too early for what Ross Douthat calls "precriminations." Before the first ballots are counted one can already see the outline of an explanation for the anticipated G.O.P. electoral rout: it's the Evangelicals' fault!

If that sounds unfair, it is: if the predictions come to pass, the Republicans will lose over a combination of Iraq, their own malfeasance and corruption and, um, Iraq. Douthat agrees.

(Still, it's kind of amusing to watch large parts of the conservative movement contort itself and its logic to deny what should be obvious. They point to the explosion in federal spending while neglecting to note that, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (via Peter Beinart) has noted, taking into account and inflation and population growth, "discretionary, nonsecurity-related spending" only grew 2 percent between 2001 and 2006. The real explosion has been in the areas of "defense, homeland security, and international affairs" i.e., the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq.

I'm not saying that this is a bad thing -- I'm only saying that an increase in federal spending is not why the G.O.P. will probably lose control of one or both houses of Congress in two weeks.

Ditto for the other often cited alternative to the obvious: immigration. Whatever your views on the matter, it's difficult to argue that the House Republicans have ignored their "base" on this issue. They passed an "enforcement-only" measure, held "hearings" that met with the approval of the Minutemen, and voted to build a 700-mile long fence across the southern border.)

Yet, when the music stops playing come November 8, Evangelicals will be the ones left without chairs and anyone who didn't see this coming wasn't looking very hard. Why? Rod Dreher says that "it'll be easy after the November slaughter to blame the Evangelicals, because the media despises them," adding that "Evangelicals and other Christian conservatives had better be prepared for a time in the wilderness."

I like camping. Oh, you expected me to add something else? How about this: I hope that Rod is completely wrong but I'm afraid that he's not. To their eternal credit, Christians are just the kind of honest, well-intentioned people who -- to switch metaphors -- get stuck with the check at times like these. Yet more proof that Finley Peter Dunne was right: "politics ain't beanbag."

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