As John wrote about earlier, James Dobson attacked Barack Obama Tuesday for what he called his "confused theology." Leaving aside the obvious projection on Dobson's part, today really marked the beginning of a rather dramatic shift in traditional American politics. Think about it: Not only is Barack Obama aggressively courting the evangelical base, he is currently involved in a dispute over theology and public policy with James Dobson. And he's winning. After Dobson trashed Obama for "distorting the Bible," Obama put out this statement, which pretty much sums up why Dobson and his ilk are a cancer on the American political process:
[That speech that Dobson criticized urged that] people of faith, like himself, "try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us."
Obama is trying to introduce a new kind of "faith-based" participation in politics, one that seeks to unite people of faith around a common goal, rather than driving them apart with divisive wedge issues. I think it's pretty obvious which of the two is more healthy and productive.
What's more, Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwel, a Methodist pastor from Texas and longtime supporter of President Bush who has endorsed Obama, has actually started a website bashing Dobson and proclaiming he "doesn't speak for me."
In what can be considered the best news of all, John McCain faces a big uphill climb when it comes to earning the support of the evangelical Republican base -- the same coalition that helped propel George W. Bush to two terms. McCain is trying to play the "strong conservative" and "maverick" cards at the same time, apparently not realizing that they end up canceling each other out. Robert Novak (of all people) writes extensively about this in a column called "McCain's Evangelical Problem." Senator McCain may be a "straight-shooter" who appeals to independents, but he's also a Republican who can't lock down his own base.