The broad church
At the Liberal Party preselections for the NSW Legislative Council ticket in the lead-up to the 1999 election, David Clarke said that he'd get the preferences from the Christian lobby groups while the moderates could get preferences from the Democrats and Greens. The moderates didn't come through with their side of the bargain (let alone shift the debate from the diktat of Clarke), and neither did the religious right.
This article from Laura Tingle (you'll need to be an AFR subscriber) shows what is possibly the biggest failure of Howard's leadership of the Liberal Party. All that money spent of frippery at private schools - fat lot of good it did them. All that book-festival scaremongering about the religious right in Australia - how hollow it rings. Jensen and Pell kept their distance, and became the dogs that did not bark in 2007. Hillsong meant it when they said they were apolitical but all those pinheads in the Liberal Party followed the Karl Rove playbook until it crumbled in their pudgy hands.
The rightwing went in to the 2007 NSW state election holding the commanding heights of the Liberal Party, with a rash of churchy candidates with no real idea about governing the state and a spectacularly gutless then-leader. They came out of the experience with ranks of candidates, if not moderate then certainly centrist, who were better than the NSW Liberals deserved. Greg Smith has found actual policy development to be a bit more tricky than just pimping out Laura Norder, and will hopefully give it away.
This blog has rejoiced at the collapse of Fielding First and the uselessness of Fred Nile, all bastards and no honesty. The Taliban would have been vindicated had they actually won something other than Alex Hawke's seat, and now their little buddy in the Hobart branch office who sounds like Reverend Lovejoy is copping a taste of his own sjambok.
Abetz will soon collapse because he can only dish it out, not take it. Greg Barns attempt to look like a big-hearted soul will also fail for two reasons: he cannot pick a worthy example of someone wrongly persecuted, and nor can he see the inadequacy of the rules of evidence in the Tasmanian bar as the only standard of proof worth having.
The end (of political success) no longer justifies the means (branchstacking and sanctimonious hypocrisy) for the religious right. There is no coincidence between the teachings of Jesus Christ and what these insidious people do. Stripped of public resources and the cloak of anonymity they are revealed not just as grubs - worse, they are losers. They have nowhere to go and nothing to offer, and yet the Taliban will not have the good grace to go quietly - it's time for Goetterdammerung in the bunker, yet nobody wants to attack this malicious force now that they're weak.
I always hated the "broad church" image of politics - singing from the same songsheet, worshipping a single deity etc. - but it is time to turn the Taliban out, and to take away their seats on the church committee. How easily Kevin Rudd was able to prise the religious vote from the Liberal grasp is a testament to the feeble grip these people, so formidable in the Liberal Party, had on reality. The fact that they maintain their grip on that institution should be a matter of far greater shame than it is.