[I]n dozens of interviews here in southeastern Virginia, a conservative Christian stronghold that is a battleground in races for the House and Senate, many said the episode only reinforced their reasons to vote for their two Republican incumbents in neck-and-neck re-election fights, Representative Thelma Drake and Senator George Allen.So... Ron Gwaltney, homophobic bigot or believer in individual responsibility? That's just a litmus test for you this morning.
“This is Foley’s lifestyle,” said Ron Gwaltney, a home builder, as he waited with his family outside a Christian rock concert last Thursday in Norfolk. “He tried to keep it quiet from his family and his voters. He is responsible for what he did. He is paying a price for what he did. I am not sure how much farther it needs to go.”
Oh, wait, the NYT helpfully adds:
The Democratic Party is “the party that is tolerant of, maybe more so than Republicans, that lifestyle,” Mr. Gwaltney said, referring to homosexuality.Litmus paper turns blue. Was Gwaltney referring to homosexuality or sexual licentiousness? Presumably, there's more to the interview and Gwaltney was clear.
Most of the evangelical Christians interviewed said that so far they saw Mr. Foley’s behavior as a matter of personal morality, not institutional dysfunction.There is a tendency to assume the morals voters are naive, that you can play them and even talk about how you're playing them and they won't see the whole picture that includes you trying to play them. The aggressive politicization of the Foley story is itself a story and the voters witness it and react. It's hardly surprising if they've reacted with revulsion to politicians for their expedient use of the story to claw toward power, which really is more repugnant than self-indulgent sexual expression. Would it shake your preconceptions to find out that even hardcore morals voters see that?
All said the question of broader responsibility had quickly devolved into a storm of partisan charges and countercharges. And all insisted the episode would have little impact on their intentions to vote.