Russell Moore’s antipathy for the President of the United States is not unknown, and is in fact a matter of public concern among conservative Christians. The former Democratic staffer, once serving a congressman who voted in solidarity with Nancy Pelosi 82% of the time, has saved nearly all of his criticism for conservatives who don’t fit Moore’s progressive, bleeding-heart mold. And no candidate has received as much vitriol from Moore as Donald Trump.
Effectively turning the ERLC into a PAC for Marco Rubio, the Roman Catholic Republican primary candidate, Moore sought his sights on Trump’s ethical shortcomings. Moore’s incessant attacks on the President-elect eventually led Trump to publicly call Moore “a very nasty guy.” Now, the guy who thinks Russell Moore is a nasty guy is the new POTUS, and Moore’s ERLC is in a four-million-per-year timeout corner for the remainder of Trump’s presidency.
One would have thought that Moore, who enjoyed a cozy relationship with President Obama, might be more amenable to making amends with Trump. That hopeful dash of common sense, however, is asking too much. Moore’s latest expenditure of Cooperative Program dollars is to hire a former GOP state chairman who is almost universally known for one thing – opposing Donald J Trump. Ironically, Moore’s new hire was selected to be the director of “strategic partnerships.” It’s safe to say that one strategic partnership that will not be had by the ERLC will be the President of the United States.
An ERLC press release informs us that Brent Leatherwood has been chosen to fill the position for the Southern Baptist entity. That press release informs the public that Leatherwood has been instrumental in Tennessee GOP politics, helping to select and support over 800 candidates for public office. What the ERLC press release doesn’t say is that Leatherwood was unemployed after making waves for being one of the few state GOP officials who refused to endorse the GOP candidate for president.
Trump, who won the Tennessee primary with 39% of the vote, faced opposition by Leatherwood who appeared to be stonewalling 14 unpledged delegates from going to Trump and “war” was threatening to break out in the state party (source link). Leatherwood was very clear in his opposition to the GOP front-runner, claiming that his campaign was “rabble-rousing.”
Then, Leatherwood made the career-ending error of refusing to support the candidate of his party – a party which paid his salary to support their candidates. Leatherwood received national attention for refusing a nearly mandatory endorsement (contractually) of the Republican candidate and it is safe to say that Donald Trump knows his name – and not in a good way (source link).
Consider one political insider’s explanation of the kerfuffle….
You will undoubtedly be looking for work if someone besides you gets elected to the chairmanship, but there is not a snowball’s chance in hell you could get any credible position in the Trump administration. And for good reason: they seem determined to only hire loyal, ethical Republicans. That criteria sort of leaves you on the outside looking in, doesn’t it? It sucks to be you…Somethings never change — but they should. Starting with you finding another place to work.
Where could a politico go after scuttling his own career by siding against the President (he was forced to resign from his position as Tennessee GOP chair just weeks ago)? Simple. He can go get hired at the ERLC, an entity that is thoroughly anti-Trump. Moore, no doubt, jumped at the opportunity to hire a man who is infamously anti-Trump.
Regardless of what you think about Donald Trump, the truth of the matter is that it is extraordinarily stupid to make enemies of the President of the United States when your goal is to bring change in Washington. But for someone who is convinced he’s the smartest person in the room, I doubt Moore will see it that way.