Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Conservatives in conclave

Interesting NY Times article on the Council for a National Policy, a secretive meeting venue of prominent American conservatives, where some Republican contenders for the nomination spoke (the Council does not have a website but speeches delivered to it are here). The mission of the Council seems to be to keep the conservative coalition together, although its founder Tim La Haye is a thoroughgoing fundamentalist. Says one speaker, former Reagan energy secretary Don Hodel:
What is important to me is that neither economic nor social conservatives can hope to elect candidates without the substantial support of the other. And, in addition, we have to deal with the fact that within the Republican Party there is a liberal faction which though smaller than either the economic conservative or social conservative blocs. This liberal faction can be the swing votes in Congress and among the electorate in some states, and, therefore, this troublesome faction has disproportionate influence on our policies. Be all that as it may, I am distressed by the apparent and seemingly growing hostility between conservatives. Most recently I have learned of campaigns where the leaders of the party have reacted strongly against a campaign because it chose to raise the issues of life and marriage. In mid-September someone I admire and consider to be a strong and wise economic conservative, Dick Armey, wrote an op-ed piece in the WSJ in which he was critical by name of Christian conservatives in a way which can only offend and upset them. We do not need to drive wedges between us if we are seeking to prevent the Left from capturing the government.

The NY Times report is particularly interesting for its suggestion that the perceived challenge of radical Islam preoccupies its members as much as their moral and economic concerns. The comment of CNP member Grover Norquist is revealing:
Mr. Norquist said he remained open to any of the three candidates who spoke to the council or to Mr. Romney. He argued that with the right promises, any of the four could redeem themselves in the eyes of the conservative movement despite their past records, just as some high school students take abstinence pledges even after having had sex. “It’s called secondary virginity,” Mr. Norquist said. “It is a big movement in high school and also available for politicians.”
This is an example of how Giuliani could make himself acceptable to the right perhaps, even if some members of the CNP would continue to oppose him.



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