It's hard to see James Dobson's broadside against Barack Obama today as anything but another sign of nervousness among conservative evangelical leaders that Obama may be poised to make inroads among their flocks. It's proximate cause, after all, was not an act of offense but one of outreach--specifically, an Obama aide's offer to visit Dobson's Focus on the Family at its Colorado Springs headquarters. Meanwhile, the speech Dobson cites in order to declare that Obama has "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution" and "is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter" took place a full two years ago. 

Yet even his evident worry about Obama and the evangelical vote hasn't made Dobson any more sanguine about John McCain's candidacy:

A McCain campaign staffer offered Dobson a meeting with McCain recently in Denver, Minnery said. Dobson declined because he prefers that candidates visit the Focus on the Family campus to learn more about the organization, [Focus on the Family exec Tom] Minnery said.

Dobson has not backed off his statement that he could not in good conscience vote for McCain because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials. Dobson has said he will vote in November but has suggested he might not vote for president.

It's easy to envision Obama's relative comfort with evangelicals--and McCain's extreme discomfort--playing a crucial role in November.

--Christopher Orr