It's getting to the point where the conservative - dominant - wing of the Republican Party needs to take out a want ad in the newspaper or post a listing on Craigslist.com to find a candidate for president. In the field taking shape before our eyes, none of the top four contenders is likely to satisfy their delicate palates - made more arrogant and discerning by decades of victories.
Rudy Guiliani? Pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-gay rights, pro-immigration, pro-gun control Rudy? Righties will vote for him only if they have lobotomies first. Remember how the New York City Council prohibited the Boy Scouts from meeting on city property because they wouldn't let in gay scoutmasters? Rudy let it happen.
Yes. There is a war going on and of course Rudy Guiliani is the man we should have had all along running Homeland Security. Obviously, he is the candidate Osama would least like to see in the White House. But has the Religious Right so abandoned its agenda that it is willing to elect its ideological opposite president? Don't bet on it.
Sen. John McCain? The McCain of the Kennedy-McCain bill to let illegal immigrants become citizens? Of the "anti-torture" bill to handcuff our agents when they question terrorists? Of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill that the right wing hates? Of the Lieberman-McCain anti-global-warming bill that addresses a problem the Right doesn't believe in? That John McCain for president? The right wing can't tolerate his apostasy even if he is the pro-life candidate that Rudy isn't.
Mitt Romney, who was pro-life and then switched to pro-choice when he ran to become Massachusetts governor and now is switching back again as he runs for president? The Mitt Romney who said "I will protect and defend the right of Massachusetts women to choose?" The Romney who has flip-flopped on gay issues? Will the right-wing back him? No way.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich? A man who has never valued the right-wing social agenda?
And then there are the personal lives - the only one of these guys who hasn't had multiple wives is the Mormon - a church that's viewed dimly by lots of conservative Christians.
Conservatives may think they are going to vote for Rudy, McCain, Newt or Romney - but wait until the negative ads start running.
Part of the problem is that the agenda of the evangelical side of the party has expanded beyond religious issues. Somehow, the Christian Right's litmus tests have widened to include opposition to illegal immigration, affirmative action and gun control along with antipathy to gay marriage and abortion.
In the flush of victories since 1980, the movement has come to expect candidates to toe the line of their agenda...and to reject those who don't.
But the Republicans have to nominate somebody and the Christian Right has to have a candidate. Who will it be? We don't have any idea, hence the want ad. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is articulate, a former Baptist Minister and an innovator. He even lost 100 pounds. But another Arkansas governor? Give us a break!
Maybe Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. Senator who? Or Rep. Duncan Hunter of California or former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore.
Or whoever answers the ad.
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