The Pastor and the Glam: DC Eavesdropping
N.B. Wikipedia does a good job of describing the Tea Party movement here if some references below don’t resonate with non-American readers.
I feel nauseous — and this Starbucks latte is only partly to blame.
Since I moved to New York about a year ago, I have operated under the happy delusion that conservative Christians and tea-party supporters exist in a parallel universe that will never intersect with my own. After all, the only Republicans I have encountered in twelve months are the tourists from flyover country I swerve to avoid on those rare occasions I venture into Times Square.
That’s all changed. As I write these words, I am at a Starbucks in DC, and two far-right Christianist lunatics have just brought to an end a meeting they conducted, at full volume, well within ear-shot. They had interrupted some very unchristian daydreaming when they sat down across from my table in the corner.
She is an extremely glamorous woman in her mid-30’s or so, with a lilting Southern accent she may or may not have acquired only after she adopted theocratic fascism as her life’s mission. He is a white-sounding African American reverend with a meticulous hairdo, a million-dollar wardrobe and a watch that screams “embezzler!”. The pastor and the glam.
I took it from their conversation (it was obviously their first encounter) that she was an ultra-conservative political activist who wanted to know how to persuade more black voters that homophobia is sufficient common ground for them to abandon Obama and the Democrats. It was also a strategy discussion about how to recruit more black faces to the tea-party, the populist movement that is in the process of sending the Republican Party, hurtling, to the fanatical fringe. Even though the ideological dialect couldn’t be further removed from my own, the language is the same: campaigns and elections, numbers and electoral districts; the bad-mouthing of factional enemies, the self-serving anecdotes, the subtle and not-so-subtle one-upmanship. I understand this better than English.
The duo opened with a familiar tune, castigating Obama for trying to lift the ban on homosexuals from serving in the US military and praising John McCain, once a moderate, for leading opposition on the issue. Having established that they hate the same people with more or less the same degree of animus, their courtship entered the next phase.
Glam was interested to find ways to help the conservative Jesus freak running against the Democratic Congressman from Virginia’s 2nd District, Glenn Nye. As they were talking, I googled Nye and it was soon apparent why they would have him in their sights; he is their least favorite kind of Democrat. Nye spent 10 years in the intelligence services and served in Iraq as a reservist. He is good-looking, Christian and clean-cut — and therefore near-impossible to vilify as a godless Nancy-boy, their preferred characterization of liberal opponents. The district Nye represents includes large African-American pockets, and this was the nub of the discussion: how the GOP could peel away some “minority” support by playing up social issues that they believe should send more black votes in their direction (but never does): aka gays and abortion, in either order.
The pastor then took a call, which he announced was from “Bishop Jackson”. Google soon informed me that Jackson is this region’s leading black conservative, a tea-party apologist and fire-breathing, gay-baiting bigot. Take this report from Daily Caller from last week:
Last December, shortly after the D.C. City Council passed a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland-based religious leader fighting marriage equality in the District, promised a “bloodletting.”
“In future races, religious people are going to start going after people’s political careers,” Jackson, the head of Stand4MarriageDC, told U.S. News and World Report. “You’re going to see a bloodletting that is going to mark a new style of engagement for people who are against same-sex marriage.”
Luckily, it turns out that Bishop Jackson is more hat than cattle on the “blood-letting” front: despite all his best efforts, the only gay-friendly DC politicians who lost in recent primary elections were defeated by candidates who are just as gay-friendly, if not more so. A bad day for the Old Testament.
Glam was clearly impressed by the sudden arrival by phone of this notorious gay-basher. The Bishop is, according to my typically thorough research, the most vocal African-American leader anywhere in the US to defend the tea-party against fairly self-evident charges of racism. Jackson is, therefore, a priceless asset — the race-traitor-in-chief.
The pastor made short work of the phone-call, and the couple soon turned their attention to Christine O’Donnell, the tea-party favourite and masturbation-is-adultery advocate, who just rocked the Republican Party establishment by winning its Senate Primary in Delaware. Glam and Pastor clearly approved of her victory in theory (O’Donnell defeated the kind of middle-of-the-road Republican disdained by the Christian Right) but were both concerned about the practical implications.
Quick, and relatively accurate, radio play:
Starbucks ambience: soft-rocky folk, subdued chatter, machines pretending to make espresso, sporadic retching.
Glam: There was panic at the Values Voter Summit about her going on the Sunday shows. But luckily, so-and-so managed to convince her to pull out in time.
Pastor: Good on so-and-so. It would’ve been ugly.
Glam: You know what, Reverend? O’Donnell doesn’t even have a scheduler!
Pastor: (very caucasianishly) Oh dear. So her campaign really is a…?
Glam: Yes, it really is a….”.
PQ: I think the phrase you’re looking for is ‘cluster fuck’.
They left soon after this exchange. The Pastor reassured Glam that African-Americans are coming around to conservatism, and Glam was either dumb or polite enough to either believe or pretend to believe him. Pastor then received another call as she left. “You know it!” he said, ending a brief but delirious conversation about the coming tea-party revolution and the end of Obama, “we’re gonna drain this swamp.”
How very holy, I thought.