The Republican National Committee's post-2012 efforts are burdened by a series of contradictions. Reince Priebus wants to reach out to the African-American community, while Republicans try to disenfranchise black voters. The RNC wants to welcome Latino voters, while party officials drive immigration-reform advocates away. The party wants to close the gender gap, while Republican policymakers wage a crusade against reproductive rights.
And the RNC wants to move past its culture-warrior reputation, while pandering to religious right extremists.
Yesterday, Priebus talked to David Brody, the top news guy at TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, and the host urged the RNC chair to "put evangelicals at ease" over whether the party intends to become more "tolerant."
After Brody said conservative evangelical voters are nervous that the GOP thinks "we have to be more tolerant," Priebus said there is nothing to worry about. "I don't know if I've used the word 'tolerance,' I don't really care for that word myself. I don't have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction," the party chairman said."It's not what you say, I think, it's sometimes -- like our moms used to tell us -- it's how you say it. And I think that's really the issue. And quite frankly, I think some of that has been overblown." Priebus assured Brody that the GOP will continue to represent "things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians" and recognize that "there's only one sovereign God."
The comments came a month after the RNC announced a significant boost to the party's evangelical outreach efforts.
Which brings us back to the contradictions.
In March, Priebus sounded eager to move past the traditional culture war, saying he wants the party to welcome marriage-equality proponents. "We do have a platform, and we adhere to that platform, but it doesn't mean that we divide and subtract people from our party," he said. Priebus added, "I don't believe we need to act like Old Testament heretics. [Republicans] have to strike a balance between principle and grace and respect."
Four months later, Priebus is expanding the RNC's evangelical outreach initiative and pandering to a radical televangelist's news program.
Apparently, the balance between principle and grace and respect will not include "tolerance."