Frank Rich: “The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time.”

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Reading Floyd County Chairman Dave Matthews’s latest Englandophobic comments in yesterday’s Tribune brought to mind a conversation at the bar a few weeks ago, when the previously reticent Matthews first broke on the local scene as chief interpreter for the otherwise silent mayoral candidate, Randy Hubbard.

I was asked by a blog reader if Matthews represented the old-fashioned fiscal rectitude GOP, or if he had consumed the Kool-Aid on behalf of theocratic “values” wing of the party so assiduously courted by the spectacularly failed Bush regime.

My response was, “I’ve no idea.”

Perhaps all will be revealed at some point in the future. Since taking an interest in local affairs, it has been a matter of morbid personal curiosity as to when someone finally would seek to revitalize the typically moribund Republican Party hereabouts by injecting the divisiveness of religious and cultural wars. We have seen in such a strategy financed by outside money in the previous Sodrel for Congress campaigns, but is hasn’t seemed to tinkle down to the grassroots.

Following are excerpts from New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich, who devoted his Sunday column to a discussion of Rudy Guliani’s presidential prospects.

OP-ED COLUMNIST; Rudy, the Values Slayer (October 28, 2007)

… That this same Rudy Giuliani would emerge as the front-runner in the Republican pack six years later is the great surprise of the 2008 presidential campaign to date, especially to the political press. Since the dawn of the new century, it has been the rarely questioned conventional wisdom, handed down by Karl Rove, that no Republican can rise to the top of the party or win the presidency without pandering as slavishly as George W. Bush has to the most bullying and gay-baiting power brokers of the religious right …

… There are various explanations for this. One is that 9/11 and terrorism fears trump everything. Another is that the rest of the field is weak. But the most obvious explanation is the one that Washington resists because it contradicts the city’s long-running story line. Namely, that the political clout ritualistically ascribed to Mr. Perkins, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values and their ilk is a sham.

These self-promoting values hacks don’t speak for the American mainstream. They don’t speak for the Republican Party. They no longer speak for many evangelical ministers and their flocks. The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time. Should Rudy Giuliani end up doing a victory dance at the Republican convention, it will be on their graves …

Right on, Frank.

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