Friday, March 24, 2006

Blackwell: Stealth Campaign?

The news in today's PD that Blackwell won't debate Petro is now supplemented by a RAB report that Blackwell is shunning joint appearances with Petro generally. This all comes amidst observations on Lincoln Logs that Blackwell's campaign generally has dropped out of sight. When we last heard from J. Ken he was pitching woo to Black clergy in Cleveland. Now this.

I wonder if Blackwell is shifting the lion's share of his campaign energy into the church network. Recall that the Ohio Restoration/Reformation effort is about networking conservative churches to affect elections. The effectiveness of the effort is hard to call because the shop is closed. They opposed the RON effort within the network, but RON lost so handily, they needn't have.

Meanwhile, news of the latest skirmish over gay adoption reminds me of the some odd timing around that issue. The proposed gay adoption ban in the General Assembly was filed on a Friday afternoon. In politics, timing something for Friday afternoon means you want no attention. This suggests a segmented strategy -- running the issue under the mainstream radar while using it as a stalking horse to mobilize the faithful. And of course, the under-the-radar venue of choice is the church network.

Listening to Kevin Phillips promoting his American Theocracy on Diane Rehm today underscored the the tricky balancing act Blackwell is contemplating. To appeal to the true believers, a candidate has to speak the language of armageddon theology, but mainstream voters find such beliefs frankly nutty. Based on the limited sample of mainstream Republicans calling into the show, the strategy for reconciling the two sides of the dilemma appears to be denial. Query what happens if a Republican politician is forced to publicly answer the question.

Bush gave us a glimpse of that difficulty in his City Club appearance when a questioner, citing Phillps' book, asked if Bush believes terrorism is a sign of the coming apocalypse. While I disagree with Alterman's take on the incident, he summarizes the question well and points the way to the White House transcript of the event. Bush in fact ultimately answers the question in the negative, but the Daily Show via Crooks and Liars video shows it as a tense moment. In this case, the questioner gave Bush an out by specifically asking about terrorism as a sign of Armageddon. As a longtime reader of Fred's work, I haven't seen much tying the two. Certainly terrorism is not the touchstone issue that a unified Isreal is.

I digess. Let's wander back to Blackwell. In an open forum, a smart Petro campaign will force J. Ken to answer discomforting questions about issues like end times theology and gay adoption. If the questions don't have convenient trapdoors, Blackwell is forced to choose between alienating his core supporters or freaking out the moderates and independents he needs to win in November.

Time will tell how all this plays out. Certainly the Republican primary vote will take on additional interest as a test of how effective the Christian strategy really is.

5 comments:

Jill said...

Could this happen this way in any other state? Even more so in some, way less so in others?

Keng said...

I disagree with one point: does the mainstream really think that the "impending" armageddon is "nutty" or is the mainstream becoming nutty? Hmmm...the lack of parallel structure in that sentence is bugging me..I'll need to fix it on the long bus ride to Canada...

Jeff said...

Dammit, Pho! I have to start checking your blog before I write anything. I did a big post this evening saying pretty much the same things about Blackwell, although not as well, and this evening I come here and find that you have handled the topic with your usual panache.

Great post! Sorry I didn't know about it before, I would have just linked to your blog.

Jeff said...

Morning. I meant, my post was this morning, I didn't read your post until tihs evening. I'm not oriented in the time sphere right now!

Anonymous said...

questions taht have can someone help me? Why is it that they want to help public schools but don't send their kids to public schools?

Why is it someone always wants to help but can not relate to whats happening but always have an idea on what to do?

I live in Akron but all I see is people that live in diffent townships that work in akron but don't spend their money in Akron? How can we build nice communities if no one spends their money here?

Norrel