As I reported here yesterday, Texas Governor Rick “Pray for Rain” Perry, will be hosting a big day-long prayer event in Houston on August 6th. He wants all the other governors to come pray with him there on their knees:
“I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking for God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision.”
As I said the other day, there are several good reasons for Perry to do this and it isn’t just that he doesn’t want to be on his knees alone. He is thinking about running for president in 2012 and this is a good opportunity for him to strut his stuff. And as I said the other day, he is jonesing for fundie cred on a nation-wide scale. Every Republican candidate is. With the American Family Association behind him, this is a good way to get it.
The thing is, Republicans are like everybody else. They have their own plans, their own agendas. And as we’ve seen, they hate each other almost as much as they hate Democrats. Republicans aren’t going to drop what they’re doing, jet to Houston, and get jiggy with Perry on his say-so.
Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has already decided not to run in 2012. But he has also decided not to attend this crisis-response designed to pray America to safety. No, he’s going to the Indiana State Fair. August 6 falls on Saturday on what happens to be the opening weekend of the Indiana State Fair, which begins on Friday the 5th.
Rick Perry, what were you thinking?
Mitch Daniels’ spokesman said “Our Man” Mitch isn’t about to miss the Indiana State Fair. Nossir!
Not even to pray in this crisis situation to save America?
The thing about Mitch Daniels is that he truly is more moderate in some respects than some of his conservative colleagues (and no, I’m not defending him); he has, as one very important example, called for a truce in the culture wars. This has not endeared him to the religious right, which couches the debate in Old Testament terms. From their perspective a truce would mean whoring around with Satan, and you just don’t do that.
And the Houston event is an unabashed homage to bigotry and hatred. It’s all about the culture wars and the proper Republican response. This is not at all Mitch Daniel’s cup of tea.
Mitch says he thinks we ought to “save America first” but by this he clearly means America’s real problems, which don’t include a war on these cultural issues so important to the fundamentalists. After America is saved, then we can talk about these other things. Since the Houston event is, from Daniels’ perspective, putting the cart before the horse, it’s easily understandable why he would prefer the State Fair with his family.
George Governor Nathan Deal’s office has also announced that he will not be attending the Houston prayer event. Governor Deal doesn’t have a State Fair to use as a handy excuse, and as Jim Galloway on the Political Insider points out, a governor pretty much has control of his own schedule so the absence of a yearly event like a state fair means Deal must have some other reasons, right?
According to Jim Galloway, August 15 is the “start of a special session of the Legislature to redraw state House, Senate and congressional districts.” That could be one reason to avoid Reliant Stadium. But he points out that there might be another: Perry might run for president. But Newt Gingrich is for sure running for president, and Deal is a Gingrich man.
Rick Perry, what were you thinking?
And that’s not all. American Family Association is engaged in a war with Home Depot because it gives money to gay and lesbian groups, which the AFA charges amounts to “homosexual activism.” The AFA wants Home Depot to stop, and to become “neutral” in the culture war, meaning they should give only to bigoted conservative causes like Senator Saxby Chambliss. As it happens, Home Depot gives mostly to conservative causes but that’s not enough. Remember, you can’t compromise with the devil! And those homosexuals are destroying America!
But Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and, as Galloway points out, “the 938th richest billionaire in the United States” gives lots of money to the Republicans. Does Nathan Deal actually want to bite the hand that feeds him? He might end up without a pot to piss in if he does.
So no, he won’t be going to Houston. It’s been said that Republicans are immune to enlightened self-interest but I think we can safely say this is not true of all of them. Nathan Deal certainly knows which side his bread is buttered on.
The two men are apparently not alone, if the rumor mill is right. We can easily discount the Democratic governors and as the Charleston Gazette reports,
West Virginia Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin’s office says it is too soon to tell whether he will attend a national prayer rally
Tomblin, a Logan County Democrat who since the resignation of Joe Manchin has been acting governor, told the Gazette through his spokeswoman, Jacqueline Proctor that “it is impossible to confirm this far out if he would attend given the many events he is invited to and other possible obligations.”
That’s a polite way of saying no in advance. And who is to blame him? Rick Perry can tout his gathering as a “a non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting” but nobody is going to believe this. It will be as political and partisan as it gets. Look who is hosting it. The AFA isn’t known for moderation and impartiality, after all. What reason would any Democrat have for attending? And other Republicans, like Deal and Daniels, can easily find excuses not to go, legitimate or otherwise. The battle lines for 2012 are being drawn well in advance.
Enlightened self-interest is not entirely dead on the right, nor is politicking. Don’t look for Rick Perry to have a full slate on August 6th.