The Religion Primary


My Sunday Times column is on the travails of Romney and Giuliani trying to jump effortlessly through the hoop that Rove constructed:

When Karl Rove, the architect of George W Bush’s election victories, first dreamt up the idea of a new and permanent Republican majority, he realised he needed some glue. The anticommunist adhesive was rubbing thin after the cold war, and Clinton-hatred could only do so much without President Clinton. Rove’s solution was religion.

Why not? Many evangelical Christians were already part of the Republican party, many were restive against the abortion and gay rights rulings of the courts, and even secular Republicans were more comfortable with traditionalist religious types than know-it-all liberal atheists.

Rove also had a perfect candidate: a genial fellow – Bush – who indicated clearly his own political philosophy when asked in an early primary debate who his favourite philosopher was. "Christ," he answered, "because He changed my heart." "Christ," many wondered silently in response, "where is all this going to end up?"

Well, it ended up in the current Republican primary season. And what fun it is...

More here.

(Photo: Mitt Romney by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty).