Tim Pawlenty's fawning appearance on American Family Association Bryan Fischer's radio show is an interesting indicator of where the power really is on the right. Here is a Republican from Minnesota who, as a state senator in 1993, actually voted for Minnesota's pioneering anti-discrimination law. He has held meetings with gay conservatives and has portrayed himself as a moderate. But he has now come out in favor of reinstating DADT, when repeal was supported by over 70 percent of the country, and passed with Republican and Democratic votes in the lame-duck session.
We are all familiar with what has happened to public opinion since Pawlenty's 1993 vote (he has said he regrets it now but only because it included gender identity in its protections). Opinion has moved rapidly in favor of civil rights, with even marriage equality reaching 50 percent public support this year. But Republican leaders have moved as swiftly in the opposite direction - from Romney to Pawlenty.
But fawning over Fischer is a new level of mainstream pandering to the Christianist right. His record is appalling and led the Southern Poverty Law Center to label his organization a hate-group. He wants to reinstate Biblical law over US law, and said so as recently as the Tucson shootings. Here's Fischer's full, staggering record of extremism, as compiled by Christine Shwen:
Who could forget the time he said the US should "restrict Muslim immigration" and "send them back home"? That was after he'd argued that a devout Muslim can not be a "good American" and that Muslims should be barred from the military. And what about the time he suggested that a plane crash in Montana killing 14 people occured because a doctor who performs abortions was on board, saying that "If you do not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you"?
And then there was the time Fischer wrote this:
"Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews. Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting. Maybe it's time for Congress to learn a lesson from history."
Does Tim Pawlenty believe that gay people are responsible for Hitler? That American Muslims and gays should be barred from serving their country?
More to the point: is embracing a man who believes this kind of bile now essential to being viable as a primary candidate for president in the current GOP? If a Democrat had gone on a radio show with anyone as far out on the left as Fischer is on the far right, his or her career would be over.