Republican Rapture

Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy is divided into three parts held together, at times, only by the most tenuous of rhetorical threads.  The first deals with the perilous politics of Big Oil and American imperial overreach; the third, with the looming threat to American prosperity represented by out-of-control national debt and what Phillips calls the “financialization of the United States.”  Both of these sections of the book present some compelling, if familiar, arguments.  It is, however, the middle section, “Too Many Preachers,” that has catapulted it to the top of the best-seller lists.  Here, Phillips reveals his central concern or, rather, obsession: Under the leadership of a third-rate Cromwell, George W. Bush, the Republican Party has been transformed and radicalized by a New Model Army of Southern Baptist activists with the result that the American nation threatens to become a theocratic regime.  Of course, this, too, is hardly an original claim; heretofore, however, we have heard it preached largely from the precincts of the theophobic secular left.  To hear the same argument from Mr. Phillips, the erstwhile populist prognosticator of emerging Republican majorities—well, that would seem to be the oracular equivalent of the FDA Seal of Approval.  Once upon a time, he embraced the hog-fed, Bible-thumping, stock-car lovin’ multitudes of Dixie and welcomed...

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