Is Fineman Really Wrong?

While the reflexive answer to any question beginning with those words is probably yes, I think this one deserves a closer look. Fineman's latest piece up on MSNBC has been getting a lot of attention in the center-right blogosphere. Among his points:

And what really frosts the religious types is that Bush evidently feels that he can only satisfy them by stealth — by nominating someone with absolutely no paper trail. It’s an affront. And even though Dr. Dobson is on board — having been cajoled aboard by Rove — I don’t sense that there is much enthusiasm for the enterprise out in Colorado Springs.

John Hinderaker at Powerline tried to rebut Fineman's argument:

I am not aware of a single religious leader who has in any way objected to the Miers nomination or called it an "affront" to religious people. The idea that "religious types"--do you get the feeling that Fineman is writing about a group with whom he has little personal experience?--are "frosted" because Miers is a "stealth" candidate with "absolutely no paper trail" is mystifying. So Fineman's analysis makes no sense, and is supported by no data or even anecdotal observation.

I shudder to disagree with the guys at Powerline, given the fate of Dan Rather! But this is just dead wrong. I also don't buy into all of Fineman's points, but he is right and John is wrong about religious conservatives and their reaction. I get the feeling that in this case it is John rather than Howard who is writing about a group with whom he has little personal contact. Many of us "religious types," several of whom I've linked to repeatedly here, are indeed "frosted" by the Miers nomination. Yes, some movement leaders (Dobson, Warren, Colson) have risen to her defense--although that is based, not on belief in her but rather on belief in whoever gave them the secret handshake and wink about her. But among the rank and file, there is a great sense of discontent and betrayal. I don't have any data to support Fineman, but I've got tons of anecdotal observation.


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