Skip to comments.Civil war looms for Republicans
Posted on 06/28/2004 9:24:17 AM PDT by SlickWillard
Before Congress left town Friday for its Fourth of July recess, Rep. Bill Thomas of California pulled off one of his patented legislative assassinations. Washington's most cunning parliamentarian, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Thomas eradicated the Freedom of Speech in Churches Act without openly opposing it. In the process, he fired an early shot in a destructive civil war looming for Republicans.
The bill would stop the Internal Revenue Service from using existing statutes to muzzle clergymen who talk politics in their churches. That stoppage is pressed by Christian conservatives, who say they have been discriminated against by federal enforcers. While the free speech initiative is supported by Republican leaders, Thomas made short work of it. He transformed the proposal into a hybrid that neither friend nor foe could support.
Thomas has brought into the open internecine warfare posing grave dangers for the Republican Party. A 13-term congressman who is the party boss of Bakersfield, Calif., he represents old-line Republicans who resent Christian conservatives entering their party in 1980 (and giving the GOP parity with Democrats). Efforts to expel these intruders will reach fever pitch next year if George W. Bush is defeated for re-election.
This specific fight's origins date back to 1954 when Senate Democratic leader Lyndon B. Johnson, unduly concerned about the threat to his re-election from right-wing political groups, passed a bill barring political activity by tax-exempt organizations. In time, this was broadened to keep churches out of politics.
That aspiration sounds comical to me after years of following Democratic candidates into inner-city churches on Sunday mornings to hear them endorsed by black clergymen. This activity never incurs the wrath of Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Instead, Lynn pesters the IRS about conservatives in church as he did in a May 27 letter to the IRS. It claimed Bishop Michael J. Sheridan's pastoral letter of May 1 ''jeopardized the tax-exempt status'' of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo., by praising politicians opposed to abortion.
Such censorship alarmed Walter Jones, a Republican businessman and devout Catholic from Farmville, N.C., when he was elected to Congress in 1994. Correcting unintended consequences of LBJ's 1954 legislation became Jones' top priority. He introduced his bill in 2001.
Thomas as chairman blocked an easy path to the floor for Jones' bill. It reached the floor Oct. 1, 2002, under the procedure requiring two-thirds approval. Despite support for it from their party's leadership, 46 Republicans -- Thomas included -- voted no and prevented even a simple majority. They represent a bloc of Republicans, from the corporate boardroom to the country club, who despise the religious right.
This year, the indefatigable Jones managed to get his religious free speech proposal imbedded in tax legislation that has to be passed to stop trade retaliation by the European Union. Everybody was on board: Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie -- everybody, that is, except Thomas.
Thomas practiced his sorcery. The straightforward Jones language was transmuted into a maze of words that lawyers for conservative organizations say would keep the muzzle on preachers. Jones, with the backing of Hastert, added 28 words to the Thomas language to restore his original meaning. Thomas pulled the 28 words out of the final version. That killed the whole issue. Thomas did not seem unhappy about it, but the speaker was furious.
Thomas is a secularist who in the past jousted with senior Republican Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, a prominent Catholic layman, over federal aid to Catholic hospitals. A former college professor, Thomas is entitled to his own views, but today's GOP relies on support not from secular Americans but from churchgoers. Jones, not intimidated by Thomas, told me: ''Discretionary enforcement, primarily against conservative churches, of an unenforceable law is wrong and should not stand.'' That is a battle cry for the coming Republican civil war.
frickin Novak. Who asked him?
Gosh, a negative article about the GOP by Bob Novak. Who'd a thunk it?!?
This just gets uglier and uglier.
I've learned to just skip any editorials by Novak for the sake of my blood pressure. He's gone over to the dark side, been hanging around Maxie Shields too long.
Actually, this one doesn't seem to be negative to the GOP to me.
If just the idea that Republicans are starting to get in the mood to fight back (finally), well, I no longer see that as a negative.
No...he's on OUR side with this one, time to throw Bill Thomas out on his ass.
I fail to see how speaking out about politics turns a church into a for-profit organization. Same goes for other non-profits. It's absurd that they are muzzled.
I read the first few paras talking about dissension. That, combined with Novak's name and his GOP-bashing history, was enough for me. :-)
Who has the authority to do this? Can Hastert do it? Can Thomas's fellow committee members do it? Can the entire House GOP delegation [caucus] do it?
Or does Thomas hold the position purely on the basis of seniority and seniority alone?
I meant to say it is NOT negative about the GOP!!!!! rather than "?". LOL! Punctuation makes a difference.
Bill Thomas has become Kennedy of the West.
Nah,they'll will keep the RINO in office long enough to get Amnesty for the Criminal invaders...Priorities don't cha know!
Its odd Bill Thomas is so anti-Christian conservative. The district he represents, Bakersfield, is the Bible belt of California. That what happens when someone gets so entrenched in power with no real possibility of being voted out of office. Reminds me of Orin Hatch from Utah.
That would require a backbone, preferably with a tongue..
Republican tongues can't say, socialist, communist, left wing re-education camp(colleges), or even that the civil war is well advanced with democrats and the republicans are losing due to moles(neocons) aiding the insurrection making america a democracy and not so slowly..
Is the war in the mid-east a diversion from the civil war here.?. Hopefully not on purpose, but the result is the same. Much too complicated for liberals maybe even too complicated for conservatives..
They easily abandon God for whatever local false gods have set themselves as captors over them because they are walking in deception; blinded followers of blind leaders.
If they knew and walked in obedience to their God they would long ago have moved to assert their God given and their Constitutional rights.
Novak hasn't had a valid insight about Republican Party politics since about 1991.
This article just confirms the above conclusion.
Why can't we muzzle the "reverend" jackson?
We need to get rid of Bill Thomas whether Dubya is reelected or not.
Thanks for posting the article here.
I am proud to be a Republican, and a religious skeptic by the way, who strongly opposes secularists. Even just from the point of view of party stewardship, Novak seems to be right on to condemn Thomas' machinations.
Thanks. I appreciate that comment, and I agree about Novak.
Actually, it's not based on seniority at all. It used to be before the GOP came to power, but they wanted to keep RINOs out of power so they changed the rules so anyone can become a chair (based on either the leadership or the Republicans on the committee). One woman congresswoman from NJ (can't recall her name right now) retired in 2002 because of this. She was "in line" to be the chair, but was passed over.
So what are the new rules, and what procedures do they set for the ouster of a committee chair?
Probably the same-- either the House leadership or a vote of the GOP on the committee.
An interesting mix of comments here. The GOP cheerleaders can't stand the thought of Novak criticizing their beloved club...er...party. I would say that the comments posted to this thread alone prove Novak's point.
The country-clubbers thought they had pushed all those pesky conservatives out back in 1964 following the Goldwater mess. Then along comes Reagan and not only does he bring back the conservatives, but he puts the GOP back in power after the clubbers handed us the twin debacles of Nixon and Ford. Once again, the country-clubbers thought they had a leash on Reagan when they saddled him with George Bush, the ultimate clubber. Unfortunately for them, their boy couldn't hold on to the White House and they never did quite rid themselves of the conservatives.
Novak is absolutely right. There is a civil war brewing of the same proportions as the original GOP split from the Whigs. One can only wonder who will come out on top.
Wow...almost 30 posts and no one's added "FRUITCAKE" to the keywords. :-)
Now raising its ugly head is Socialistic Darwinism----survival of the fittest----where the strongest survive at the expense of the weak (the practice thrives in the Mideast cesspool). Survival measures are the most primitive and basic: The most cunning and depraved individuals---obsessed with their own interests---survive by back-stabbing and co-opting the weak and law-abiding.
Sounds familiar, eh? Socialistic Darwinism's survival methodologies reek with the tactics of the obsessed Clinton admin's scorched earth policies to save itself---by any means necessary---from political disgrace and the rule of law.
It's time for Christian Republican's and their Churches and Clergy to demand equal rights with liberal Democrats-this double standard has gone on way too long.
"Fruitcake" as in Sandy Hume or Bill "Mr. Susan Molinari" Paxon?
Have we all forgotten Rep. Thomas' blubbering apology to the meanest man in Congress, Fourtney Stark?
To be fair, it was apparently Rep. Scott McInnis that Fourtney called a "fruitcake," but it was related to Rep. Thomas' move to have Capitol police throw the Democrats out of a congressional library.
I could appreciate survival of the fittest.. In Congress and D.C. in general it is the opposite. Survival of the weakest. Who can say that Kerry or Bush even are Americas best and brightest. Consider Dole and Dubyas daddy, Gore, Dukakis, Clinton both of them.. weak. A Newt Gingrich who is strong, basically "mooned" us all as he left the game. The fittest don't want the jobs because it takes a fortune to run for a job that don't pay well, only to receive abuse for makeing any move, forward or back..
Americas best and brightest are too bright to run. SOooo, Survival of the fittest is the opposite paradigm of the current political spectrum. At least it looks that way to me. Actually to run for a political position seems to speak of brain damage, or some other mental dysfunction.. not survival of the fittest but survival of those in political denial. Except for the democrats. They know exactely were they are going most of them, except for Zell Miller.. who is a really confused individual.. If not he would have left the democrats many years ago.. he did'nt, still has'nt.
Poor Zell. Sure the choir loves him, but the boy is very confused. So are the pubbies, hes a keynote speaker at the republican confab soon.. instead of NON-confused individuals... Survival of the mentally weakest is the current republican taste. ALL democrats are very weak or they would'nt be democrats at all. Most republicans are weak and a pox on you if you have any stones, a backbone, or even a tongue.
Do some of those who automatically reject a writer's views, based solely on whether he agrees or disagrees with Republican policies of the moment, realize how their comments read to other people, just surfing by? Do they consider how such knee jerk reactions communicate the very worst possible image of Republicans in general, and supporters of the in group of the party in particular? Does anyone think that a totally closed-mind, whose views of personalities and issues at least appear to be driven by the interests of a particular faction of a particular party, resonates well with anyone not equally emeshed in the interests of that faction?
George Washington specifically warned against this factionalized party mindset. I would suggest that before anyone claims to be a spokesman or spokeswoman for Conservative values, they read Washington's comments, and reflect accordingly. (See Farewell Address.)
Novak is a gloomy sort, and most of his columns are no fun to read because of this. But his knowledge of what's going on is formidable. We ignore him at our peril.
This particular column seems quite fact-oriented, and if true, it is dismaying. We cannot stick our heads in the sand about betrayals by our party's "leadership." When we do, it only invites more betrayal.
I am just shocked at Novak -- just shocked! (sarcasm) What I would be shocked at is if he wrote a positive article! :)
Reading Novak is like reading Buchanan ... it's pretty serpentine stuff. I've learned to avoid them for very much.
Another assault FROM the GOP on religion and free speech.
Here's what's going down. Clinton, Gore and Kerry go to black churches the weekend before the election, get endorsed and get a lot of media. IRS does nothing. But when some conservative churches tell their flocks to vote pro-life, they get threats from liberals that their tax-exempt status will be pulled. Are you fine with that? Bill Thomas seems to be -- and Novak did a service by calling him on it.
Novak is dumping on Bill Thomas for a good reason. Conservative churches shouldn't be punished by the IRS for urging people to vote pro-life. After all, the IRS doesn't punish liberal black churches when they host Democratic candidates at their services. The bill that Thomas neutered would have protected conservative churches from retaliation. GOOD FOR NOVAK FOR POINTING OUT HOW THOMAS IS UNDERMINING CONSERVATISM AND HELPING CLINTON AND KERRY.
Novak has been trying to provoke a civil war among Republicans for years. He's a registered Democrat who gets to play the conservative on CNN.
Are you saying you favor the IRS should punishing conservative churches that urge their parishioners to vote for conservative candidates? Apparently Bill Thomas killed a bill that would have protected conservative church against such IRS abuse. (The IRS never punished liberal black churches for hosting Democratic candidates) GOOD FOR NOVAK FOR BRINGING THIS PROBLEM TO PEOPLE'S ATTENTION.
If Thomas neutered a bill that would have protected conservative churches from IRS abuse, then GOOD FOR NOVAK FOR LETTING US KNOW!!!
I don't disagree with that, but Novak's motive in doing so should be discussed as well. He wants Republicans to lose, which would end the slightest hope of stopping IRS abuse.
I didn't know that. He doesn't stick to reporting happy-happy news, that much is true.
Democrats use churches on a regular basis to get out the vote. It was nothing to see Hillary Clinton visit 3 churches per Sunday to gather support. Gore made himself available at many churches ( especially minority) and so did Slick Willy. The one Baltimore church he visited heard him tell the congregation that the GOP was going to try to block them at the polls and not allow them to vote. The
GOP candidate, Ellen Sauerbury (sp) was accused of racism a few days before the election. She did not have a racist bone in her body but the Democrats pulled it off and elected the Democrat gov. to another term. It was a dirty, nasty election full of inner city church race baiting. Watch for it this time around. I wish the GOP would take the
Democrats to the wall over the race baiting.
Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (Introduced in House)
HR 235 IH
H. R. 235
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to protect the religious free exercise and free speech rights of churches and other houses of worship.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 8, 2003
Mr. JONES of North Carolina (for himself, Mr. DELAY, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. HAYES, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Mr. SOUDER, Mr. HALL, Mr. DEMINT, Mr. GUTKNECHT, Mr. KENNEDY of Minnesota, Mr. WELDON of Florida, Mr. PENCE, Ms. HART, and Mr. PITTS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means