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Flipping through the "dial" just now, I paused for a curious moment on NOX Fews. There was Mike Huckabee, looking dead on into the camera and intoning what appeared to be a sermon. After an involuntary Scoobiesque "Ruh?" I caught the gist of the padre's patter.

He was speaking of the Pharisees, the fundamentalist, literalist Jews who so bedeviled Jesus with their attempts to bust him on transgressions of the Law throughout the gospels. (The Huckster did not, it must be noted, use either "fundamentalist" or "literalist" to describe the Pharisees, choosing instead the "Legalist" label preferred by, well, fundamentalists and literalists).

This drop of JesuScience on a purported news network struck me as powerful strange, so I lingered for a 'graph or two.

Preachergov, it turned out, was spinning a parable, and not a very friendly one at that, identifying the new, Republican insurgency with the pesky needlers of Our Lord and Savior. Long parable short, he was basically calling them out for a bunch of purity trolls whose insistence on the only the most unassailably conservative doctrine and uncompromising tactics was actually preventing the coming of the Kingdom (i.e. GOP dominance of government).

I did not linger long in the Ailes Tabernacle, moving on to a rerun of Big Bang Theory, but the brief stopover got me to pondering.

Mike Huckabee is a useful Republican. He straddles the evangelical and establishment wings comfortably and has even been part of the cheering section for the rowdies of recent years, though he shook his pom poms safely on the sidelines.

That the party's Bureau of Message Reinforcement (aka F'News) should trot him out to preach against the evils of too much conservatism is, to my mind, an indication of just how seriously the "grownup" 'Pubs are taking talk of civil wars and third parties. The shutdown debacle has sent the party machinery into high gear in a belated attempt to herd the cats they set on fire for fun just last season.

That they sent the Huck out to calm the hoodlums suggests they're hoping to claim jump the Tea Party on the Jesus brand, in order to expand their minority majority.

This is a grave tactical error.

As many studies and polls, notably Democracy Corps' Republican Policy Project, make clear, self-identified evangelical Republicans and Tea Party Republicans are not two separate sub-groups of the GOP. Rather, the overlap portion in their Venn diagram is vastly larger than either's with Fiscal Conservative Moderate 'Pubs.

What's more,

We know that Evangelicals are the largest bloc in the base, with the Tea Party very strong as well.  For them, President Obama is a “liar” and “manipulator” who has fooled the country.  It is hard to miss the deep disdain—they say the president is a socialist, the “worst president in history,” and “anti-American.”

Evangelicals who feel most threatened by trends embrace the Tea Party because they are the ones who are fighting back.

While the neo-Libertarian TPs aren't ready to bust up every gay wedding, the evangelicals still feel more affinity to their tricorner-topped brethren than they do for the country club set.
For all that, this is a deeply divided base.  Moderates are a quarter of those who identify Republican, and they are very conscious of their discomfort with other parts of the party base.  Their distance begins with social issues, like gay marriage and homosexuality, but it is also evident on immigration and climate change.  Fiscal conservatives feel isolated in the party.
I predict they're going to feel even more isolated soon if they persist in this gambit.

First of all, if the TPs have demonstrated one consistent creed throughout this political seizure, it can be summed up as something like, "FUCK YOU YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!"

Settled law is illegal. Supreme Court judgments are unconstitutional. Elections are serving suggestions.

Because I said so and my opinion's as good as anyone else's. Because freedom!

Even more dangerous for the Establishment Minority is this apparent new game called "Capture the Fundies." Tea Party and evangelical 'Pubs are generally more motivated, strident and emotional about their positions than the Bidness Brunch Bunch and, as recent years have demonstrated, it doesn't take a whole lot to royally piss them off.

And calling a fundamentalist American Christian--or even a close analog--a "Pharisee" is a whole lot. I mean, those are the bureaucratic sticklers who ended up getting Jesus busted. Them's, as them say, fightin' words.

Likely I'm reading much too much into a very brief stumble past our Fair and Balanced friends.

But if those were indeed trial balloons I saw launched this evening, I'd suggest a different envelope material than lead.

Originally posted to Crashing Vor on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 07:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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