The Week in 2012

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: As those of you who know me personally are aware, and those of you who don’t know me will soon find out, I don’t follow politics very closely, except for a few rabid months before a presidential election, when I engage in heated debates and pretend to be politically aware. But I do what I can. And tonight I did listen to NPR’s Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross, in which she interviewed Rachel Tabachnick, who has been studying the growing “New Apostolic Reformation” or, “Terrifyingly Crazy-Pants Fanatical Right Wing Evangelical” movement in America.

I was particularly interested (re: horrified) to realize how closely intertwined this movement is with presidential hopeful Rick “This is How We Do Things In Texas Haw Haw” Perry. Key figures within it helped organize his recent ‘prayer rally’, and yes, I just typed the phrase, ‘prayer rally’. The only way you could get me near one of those is if you promised me that attendees would be folding giant foam novelty hands in prayer. It’s still even less appealing to me than a pep rally, which I didn’t think was even possible.

To hear Terry Gross soberly discuss a growing religiopolitical movement in modern America whose members genuinely believe that “the Earth is controlled by a hierarchy of demons under the authority of Satan” is to feel that this is the beginning of the end. The proud, arrogant Roman Empire, falling to Barbarians all over again. Is it really possible that there are people living now who believe in demons? As a thing?

The phrase “End of Days” was also used about six times during the forty-minute interview. And not in a joking, ironic way, which is the only way I’m comfortable hearing it used—but rather in a “there are many people in this country who feel that we need to be preparing for this because it is a real thing” way. Terry Gross, please don’t say the phrase “End of Days” anymore. You’re really freaking me out here.

CHRIS PUMMER: Seeming crazy in his own way, Jon Huntsman has been trying out a new, tougher attitude with his GOP rivals. Not crazy like believing in demons, but perhaps crazy in thinking he’s advancing his cause to become the Republican presidential nominee.

Of course I’m talking about his string of tweets about evolution and global warming. Ripping his foes for lack of leadership. He also isn’t backing down from his more moderate stances in issues like civil unions for gay couples.

To stand by his convictions makes him a man among children running amok in the GOP race to battle Barack Obama next year. And while that certainly makes him a favorite among independents, pundits, or even just people living in a reality-based world, it’s probably not doing him anything in the surreal world of Republican politics.

Huntsman seemed like a longshot from the beginning, with his moderate past and late start to building campaign groundwork because of his tenure as an ambassador to China for Obama, something that in itself is causing him problems. Realistically, he seemed much more likely to be positioning himself for a run in 2016 or 2020.

Could his coarse attacks on his rivals spoil those chances, too?

It’s maybe hard to imagine a Republican Party that embraces more middle ground in this country’s politics. Should one of the GOP’s own win the presidency next year with no pretense of preaching to moderates, why wouldn’t it keep lurching to the right.

But if Republicans put their eggs in a basket being carried by Perry or Michele Bachmann? And lose? While failing to take the Senate, and maybe losing seats in the House of Representatives?

Right now Obama looks extremely vulnerable. But no matter how bad the circumstances, how low the approval rating, he will have to suffer in comparison to whoever the GOP puts out as an alternative. Will he look that bad next to Perry once people finally start looking into who Perry really is?

Should Republican blow this opportunity, after missing chances in 2010 because of far-right candidates, at some point a swing back to the middle at some point. Not just for opportunism, but because of shifting attitudes and demographics.

Will Huntsman have burned his bridges by the time someone like himself is electable in a GOP primary?

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