Amid the booths pushing abstinence ("Pet Your Pet'' T-shirts), commandment-of-the-month bumper stickers and religious statues the size of aircraft carriers, the attendees at last weekend's Values Voters Summit are more open to heresy than I would have thought.
As they hung out around the Starbucks kiosk outside the Washington Hilton ballroom, these evangelical Christians were willing to give former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani points just for showing up. It's not that he told them what they wanted to hear -- he didn't -- but that he wanted to be heard at all.
"Isn't it better that I tell you what I really believe, instead of pretending to change all of my positions to fit the prevailing winds?'' he said.
The simple answer to that is no. Being pandered to reinforces how powerful the values voters are.
Still, they're only human. They don't like being disappointed by those who promise them everything and deliver little -- think Supreme Court Justice David Souter, Harriet Miers or the scoundrels in their midst like fallen evangelist Ted Haggard and Senator Larry Craig.
They like celebrities and converts. It's as good to be Paul on the road to Damascus as a Mitt Romney, who was once to the left of Ted Kennedy in his love for gays and who now rests to the right of Pat Robertson, who blames 9/11 on homosexuals. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and co-sponsor of the event, said, "Rudy didn't get a halo by coming, but he lost his horns.''
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