The evangelicals are feeling uppity and want to purge their party of dangerously free-thinking moderates. Arthur Finkelstein, soon-to-be-former Republican consultant to the stars, has warned allies like George Pataki that the new GOP has no place for the insufficiently rightwing.
Pataki's rebuke notwithstanding, he wasn't kidding. As itaffectsyou.org and others have reported, in a variety of outlets conservative leaders have made clear that they don't consider the moderates "true" Republicans. Take a story from Friday's LA Times:
Bob Jones III, president of the Christian conservative Bob Jones University in South Carolina, recently urged Bush to purge moderates from the White House.
"If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them," Jones said in a letter to Bush after the election. "Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ."
Now the Concernced Women for America (no irony there) are repeating the call for a purge of moderates from the party. I can't say it any better than they do:
"If they can't agree and support the president and the platform, then they ought to go over to the Democrats," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel for the conservative group Concerned Women for America.
And it seems some of those moderates have heard their call. Can't wait to see what my two senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, do in response. They won't leave the party, but they won't roll over for Frist and company, either.
The big mystery is why Lincoln Chafee decided to stick with the GOP even after saying on election day that he cast a symbolic vote against 43 (and in favor of 41, who must have kept all the good genes). To recap: Chafee endorsed Bush, then withdrew the endorsement, backed W again, cast the symbolic vote against him, and finally -- following calls from Frist and McConnell the next day -- decided to stick with the GOP after all. Chafee's elevator never did go all the way to the top (talk about a father keeping all the good genes!), but you have to wonder what they promised him to draw him back to the fold. And whether it will be enough to keep him there.
The final bit of irony, of course, is that the president had campaigned for Specter against a primary challenger backed by the Club for Growth, nutty tax slashers who were way out in front of this eat-your-own agenda well before the 2004 election. But more on that later.
The GOP benefited from all those Dixiecrats defecting over the last four decades; now it may be time for payback. That'll wipe the smirk off their faces.