Where’s The FAMiLY Leader’s Leadership?



bvpI find it interesting that The FAMiLY Leader has not endorsed a Presidential candidate yet.  Bob Vander Plaats positioned the organization to be a player in the Iowa Caucus as they reorganized.  They have had more opportunities than any other organization (that I’m aware of) to vet candidates through their Presidential Lecture series.  Each prospective candidate that agreed to participate spoke at three different venues, met with different pastors and church leaders for a private meeting at each location, and had a Q&A time with Chuck Hurley and Bob Vander Plaats.  I know they also had private meetings with different candidates, and then there was the Thanksgiving Family Forum.  They also had their pledge they asked different candidates to sign.

All of that on top of their staff and board’s ability to participate in the vetting process every Iowan has access to – go to different forums, campaign stops and watch debates.  All of this and yet they are still sitting on the sidelines.  While I don’t believe that their endorsement is a silver bullet by any stretch of the imagination, many like me for instance, were not waiting on their endorsement to make a decision.  They still add a voice to the mix, and could help give the candidate they back some positive momentum going into the Iowa Caucus.

They could exercise some leadership here, but for some reason they haven’t pulled the trigger.  Steve Deace said the two choices that Christian prolife voters in Iowa really have to choose from who have been solid on their issues are Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and we need to choose or lose.  I agree with that assessment.  Yet Bob Vander Plaats is sending some strange signals, and I’m not sure what to make of it:

Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the Family Leader, an influential Iowa social-conservative organization, says groups like his are taking a hard look at Gingrich and have come away impressed. After a forum last month at which candidates discussed their faith, Vander Plaats, in consultation with his organization’s board, whittled the list of candidates the Family Leader may support to four: Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Gingrich.

“He is articulating a very Christian-historical worldview. People are seeing he’s had a life transformation,” Vander Plaats says of Gingrich. “The second thing he’s got going for him is some people believe Newt is the best prepared to lead. And three is that he looks like the one with the best shot at being the alternative to Romney and defeating Romney. Believe me, conservatives want an alternative to Romney. They don’t trust him.”

Now I don’t begrudge the short list as mine was the same, but I can say I would be shocked, shocked if The FAMiLY Leader made an endorsement for pragmatic reasons.  Sure somebody is going to be unhappy with their choice, but if nothing else we expect them to make a principled choice, not a pragmatic one.  The FAMiLY Leader has the opportunity to help tip the scales for a candidate who champions their values, but time is running out.

Picture by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

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  • SJ

    I don’t know much about The FAMiLY Leader, but this situation does remind me a bit of the behavior of another so-called family leader 4 years ago:  James Dobson.  Of the top candidates in the presidential race last time, Huckabee was the only one who was both solidly pro-life and pro-traditional marriage.  Yet James Dobson was strangely silent and refused to endorse anyone for the longest time, supposedly because he felt that more than one candidate fit the bill.  It was only after Romney dropped out of the race that Dobson made his wimpy endorsement of Huckabee.  As I found out later, it seemed that Romney had contributed heavily to a lot of pro-family organizations, thus compromising the integrity of at least some of them.  After learning about this, I felt that Focus on the Family should have changed its name to one of the following:

    Focus on the Money
    Hocus on the Family  :P

    Actually, though, I think Dobson’s endorsement of Huckabee was supposed to be his “personal” endorsement, not that of his organization, if one can really separate the two.  I wonder–will the situation be the same with BVP, or will the potential endorsement actually be that of his organization?  

    Besides money, there usually seem to be other issues that fluster pro-”family” organizations as well.  Here a couple that come to mind:

    1) What’s in it for them besides direct financial gain (i.e., a place at the king’s table)
    2) Lack of godly wisdom and discernment

    At this point, I suppose whether BVP and his organization are going to endorse anybody should be considered:

    The FAMiLY Secret.  ;)

    • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

      I love that last line… you’re so jaded, but unfortunately you may be pretty accurate in this case.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LB3LDHWZXK7GXIW6DYVOYSVPHE SJ

        Thanks.  :)  I used to be less cynical, but events I’ve witnessed over the past few years have pretty much shocked the “shock” out of me.  

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Iowa for Freedom and The FAMiLY Leader are not one in the same.  BVP wasn’t on staff in 2010, and it is the board, not BVP that will ultimately make the decision to endorse.

    • Jay

      Gingrich’s down payment on Vander Plaats is really paying off.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LB3LDHWZXK7GXIW6DYVOYSVPHE SJ

        Well, if that’s true, then he’d better not fall into arrears in the same way that he’s been missing other filing deadlines.  LOL.  

  • Watchtower

    I think that The Family Leader might be between a rock and a hard place in the matter of making a singular endorsement among the Republican presidential candidates. If they pick what would seem to be the most obvious candidate(s) that share the reputed Christian/moral/cultural/pro-family values of the organization they would have to go with Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum. Realistically neither one of these candidates is likely to be the eventual Republican candidate even if they finished high in the Iowa caucus finals. But at least the organization could maintain their principles. Rick Perry in his recent public promotions, as well as his record as governor of Texas seems acceptable to me. (I hope that the unfounded smears made about Perry’s private life are not true.) If The Family Leader endorses the latest “rock star celebrity” among Republicans, Newt Gingrich, it is my conviction that they are selling out principles for political, financial and popular considerations.

  • Jay

    “Bob Vander Plaats is a three time failure in his attempt to get the GOP nomination for the Governor’s elections in Iowa. He is a one trick pony, screaming “GAY MARRIAGE IS EVIL” whenever asked about any real policy issue unrelated to the topic.

    “Everybody who lives in Iowa knows he hates Mormons, but he is too cowardly to actually admit that when asked about his specific criticisms of Romney. Instead we get the rehashed “I’m just raising the issue” response whenever somebody asks him what’s wrong with the Mormon church. Now he endorses somebody on his third marriage over another candidate who has been married to same woman since 1969? What a hypocritical mess he has become. It’s no wonder why he can’t even get the GOP nomination for the Governor’s race, let alone get a shot at the Democratic candidate.”  (eej003)