In his TAS article today, Paul Chesser suggests that because Harriet Miers’ most visible backers were evangelicals and they “disengaged their minds in feeble attempts to justify her nomination,” their conduct in that battle stained the whole movement. Chesser at first detaches specific intellectuals — Hewitt, Dobson, Olasky, and Starr — from the movement as a whole.
If the Miers nomination only diminishes their influence, Chesser’s argument is sound. But evangelicals as a whole are only harmed to the extent that they are a monolith and these figures are the only leaders. Neither condition is true. In addition to the exceptional Miers opponents among evangelicals who Chesser notes, add Gary Bauer and the Family Research Council. And within the Senate, Sen. Sam Brownback (though a convert to the Catholic Church, is still a hero to “mere” conservative Christians) was the foremost doubter of Miers. Among the conservative ranks, evangelicals were hardly united. Many of my good friends are evangelicals, though highly political and intellectual ones, and they by and large opposed Miers.
The evangelicals are stained if they’re a faceless hegemon without dissent. Folks who buy the mainstream media’s outlook on evangelicals will readily accept this interpretation. Those who already know better… will know better.