ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, October 07, 2005

DUers Ask: Who is Fred Phelps?

Fred Phelps is often used by the Left as the embodiement of right-wing "base." As with most assertions of the Left, they're completely incorrect.

Fred Phelps is a Democrat. (That's a big D Democrat, not a small d democrat).

Apparently, Fred called in to Air America Radio and it stirred up the DUers a bit. See this post as well.

Now, Fred Phelps isn't really a reverend or a pastor, any more than Charles Manson was a pastor. His Westboro Baptist Church is actually just a compound that houses his entire extended family. Interestingly, Al Gore found it a great location to have a fund raiser.

While the Left certainly abhors religion, they seem to have some things in common with Fred:

  1. Anti-War
  2. Love Fidel
  3. Love Saddam
  4. Love Algore
In the 1980s, the Phelps family were strong political allies with then-senator Al Gore. The home of Fred Jr., Phelps' eldest son, located in the Westboro compound, acted as Gore's campaign quarters for one of his senate races, and the Westboro compound was host to a fundraiser. Numerous photos exist on the internet of Fred Phelps Jr. and his second wife, Betty Phelps-Schurle, posing with Al and Tipper Gore in Phelps Jr.'s home. Phelps also served as a Gore delegate on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta in 1988. [60]

During Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, Fred Phelps Jr. and members of Westboro campaigned for Gore, though simultaneously attacking Hillary Clinton. In January 1993, Fred Phelps Jr. and Betty Phelps-Schurle were invited to the inaugural ball in Washington, D.C.[61]

In the ensuing years leading up to Clinton's second presidential campaign, Gore and Clinton took increasing pro and neutral stances on homosexuality. Thus, Westboro turned against Gore, who nevertheless invited Fred Phelps, Marge, Fred Jr., and Betty back for the 1997 inauguration; they responded by bringing the entirety of Westboro to the White House and picketing on the front lawn during the ball, [62] with signs proclaiming that Gore, Clinton, and both men's families were going to hell, not necessarily for their stances on homosexuality, but because they had "betrayed" Westboro. [63]

In 1998, Westboro picketed the funeral of Gore's father, screaming vulgarities at Gore and telling him "your dad's in Hell." [64]

Phelps has run in numerous Democratic primary elections for governor of the state of conservative Kansas, in 1992, 1994, and the last time in 1998, when he came in last with 15,000 votes out of a total of over 103,000 votes cast, or 15%.

[EDIT - For some reason, Blogger cut off the rest of my post, which I attempt to recreate below]

Now, while the Left points to Fred Phelps as a great example of the rightwing, fundie base, it is clear that he is simply a deranged nutter. From what I've read, his "compound" and his Westboro Baptist Church is made up completely of his family members. I will not try to assert that Phelps is part of the Democratic base - as long as they reciprocate. He gets attention from the Left (from the Progressives, Air America Radio, etc) precisely because they try to promote him as just a rank & file, "intolerant" Republican. However, I find his positions on every issue to be repugnant.

If the Left wants to truly smear a political party using this guy, I say fine... let's get a copy of his voter registration card. I have a feeling that the Dems would not be happy with the result.

St Wendeler