The Rockefeller Republican position was not without its charm. Its Keynesian pragmatism on economic questions, its prudence in questions of foreign policy, and above all its commitment to civil rights and absolute indifference to classical liberal ideology made it possible for the GOP to be a more flexible and attractive political party. The lack of interest in Bible thumping was in many ways an incidental reflection of class priorities, not a political position.

Moore, meanwhile, is something very new: a blundering, yawping quixotic champion of reactionary values. The absorption of evangelical values voters into the Republican coalition between the nomination of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration coincided with the party’s turn to libertarian economics, but there was no causal relationship between the two. There has never been a point in the history of the post-Reagan Republican Party in which the priorities of Christians have been allowed to interfere with the GOP’s commitments to laissez-faire economics. Moore is the lunatic breakout star that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell dreamed of.