Not so long ago the far right was just a dispirit collection of religious fundamentalists and guys in Elmer Fudd hats with a strange affinity for firearms. Now, thanks to the encouragement of the leadership of the Republican party, they’re a well-funded and orgranized collection of fundamentalists and people in Armani suits and SUV’s with a strange affinity for golf outings and firearms. And now the Republicans are having to control them.
The White House and the Senate Republican leadership are pushing back against pressure from some of their conservative allies about the coming Supreme Court nomination, urging them to stop attacking Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales as a potential nominee and to tone down their talk of a culture war.
The disagreement underscored the balancing act confronting Republican leaders seeking to rally passionate social conservatives behind a nominee while casting the candidate as moderate and middle of the road.
Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a Christian conservative candidate for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, said, “A lot of people feel that the administration shouldn’t be reluctant to talk about the values we hope the nominee will embrace.”
“If all my side does is talk about process – ‘we want a fair hearing, etc.’ – while Ted Kennedy is talking about ‘we are not going to let somebody on the court who is going to take away the rights of individuals,’ as silly as I think that is, it will affect the way people think about the battle,” Mr. Bauer said.
Tom Minnery, director of public policy for Focus on the Family, an evangelical group and broadcaster based in Colorado Springs, blamed leftist advocates for the “decibel level” of judicial confirmation debates and said his group planned to continue to address mainly social and cultural issues “to get our constituents to understand how important this battle is.”
Well, well. Now that they have created this monster, they’re the ones who are going to feel its wrath when it doesn’t get exactly what it wants. If the Terri Schiavo case taught them anything — and it appears that it did not — it would be that you need to feed the beast on its terms. They want what they want — banning abortion, prayer in schools, marginalizing gays and lesbians — and if they don’t get it, the tantrum is going to be terrific.
Even if the GOP is able to rein in the right wing, it’s going to be more like Young Frankenstein rather than Siegfried & Roy. (But can you see Gary Bauer in a top hat and tails doing “Puttin’ On the Ritz”? Didn’t think so.)