Evidence suggests the talking points intended for the Republican party's fringe Christian base have now been written, circulated and are being repeated among the party faithful. Newt Gingrich's comment that Republican leaders did not act because they didn't want to be "accused of gay-bashing" in fact marked an opening salvo of a spin campaign that will be initially waged out of the public eye, to the membership of extremist religious organizations and their affiliated churches around the nation.
Here are some examples of the talking points that emerged in the Christian press today.
Gary Bauer, head of American Values posits a Democratic conspiracy:
"Hopefully, no Christian voter is under the illusion that the Democratic Party is full of sinners and the Republican Party is full of saints," he [Bauer] says. "Both parties are full of sinners. Our faith teaches us that it's a fallen world."
But Bauer says when it comes to voting, the GOP platform supports the sanctity of life and traditional marriage, while liberal Democrats support same-sex "marriage" and abortion on demand. "Those differences remain the same," he points out, "and in view of that, I would hope that the obvious disgusting behavior by this one Republican congressman would not affect turnout on election day."
But the former presidential candidate suspects the timing of Foley's revelations may have had that intended effect. "There is some indication that perhaps left-wing groups and some Democrats knew about this," he explains. "We know that a newspaper in his district knew about it for a year; so I doubt if it was coincidental that it's come out five weeks before an election."
What is at work in this case, Bauer suggests, is "an attempt to discourage Christian conservative voters and to get some percentage of them to stay home so that the Left can retake the United States Senate and the United States House."
Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council blames it all on political correctness:
Democrats seeking to exploit the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) are right to criticize the slow response of Republican congressional leaders to his communications with male pages. But neither party seems likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse . . . The Foley scandal shows what happens when political correctness is put ahead of protecting children.
The wider public may not clue into these messages, but you will, if you listen, hear echoes of them as Republicans talk about the case from this point forward, especially on Fox News. Comments like those by Newt Gingrich will make little sense to the average viewer, but will serve to validate viewpoints being distributed to the Republicans' niche audience of extremist Christians, who consider themselves to be "in the know. "
(Oh, and it's already "War on Christmas" season. )