Sunday, February 7, 2010

Keeping Faith, Courting Conservatives

Obama's Willingness to Continue Bush Approach to Religious Charities Aims to Woo Evangelicals but Vexes Liberals

This story tells a great deal about politics, both contemporary and in general.

President Barack Obama's willingness to keep Bush-era policies on government-backed religious charities has angered many liberals but is helping to woo traditionally Republican evangelical leaders who can influence key blocs of voters. The approach, according to conservative leaders and liberal critics alike, is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats to regain credibility with centrist and conservative voters who tend to be more religious and have supported the GOP in recent polls and elections.

Cold calculations tell: the President needs support from more than the left wing of the Democratic Party to keep power.

Mr. Obama has left in place a contentious Bush policy permitting charities that receive federal aid to hire employees based on their religious beliefs—a policy that civil-liberties groups consider unconstitutional and that candidate Obama had criticized.

Candidates say many things to get elected, but, once in power, recalibrate. It is always done. Liberals insist on ideological orthodoxy, as if simply being rigidly liberal is going to accomplish a great deal politically. It would not. Obama is not as liberal as liberals thought he would be, as they thought they saw him being. He woos liberals, yes, but he is not as liberal as conservatives and right wing nuts charge him with being. And, anyway, what is so bad about faith-based programs? Liberals have their own litmus test; why shouldn't others have their own? Liberals are far too sanctimonious.

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