Jesus says: Can you keep a secret?
Shhhhh. Don’t tip off your agenda:
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.
In a series of conference calls on Tuesday and over the last several days, Republican Senate aides encouraged conservative groups to avoid emphasizing the searing cultural issues that social conservatives see at the heart of the court fight, subjects like abortion, public support for religion and same-sex marriage, participants said.
Instead, these participants, who insisted on anonymity to avoid exclusion from future calls, said the aides – including Barbara Ledeen of the Senate Republican Conference and Eric Ueland, chief of staff to Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader – emphasized themes that had been tested in polls, including a need for a fair and dignified confirmation process.
Mr. Ueland acknowledged that he and others had been working almost since the vacancy occurred last Friday with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation to persuade conservative activists to steer clear of divisive language.
“Every contact we have with these folks is ‘stay on message, stay on purpose,’ ” Mr. Ueland said. “The extremism of language, if there is to be any, should be demonstrably on the other side. The hysteria and the foaming at the mouth ought to come from the left.”
It ought to, but when your base contains the largest known quantity of bible-thumping, snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues Focus on the Fetus-types, well, sometimes keeping them in line isn’t as easy as it looks:
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.”
Officials of several Christian conservative groups, who did not want to be identified because of what they said was pressure by the White House, said they were continuing to urge the president not to nominate Mr. Gonzales.
Tuesday evening, Focus on the Family transmitted an e-mail message to supporters with the title, “Bush Defends Gonzales. Some conservatives wonder if attorney general is right for Supreme Court.”
Other groups circulated a statement from a prominent opponent of abortion rights, C. J. Willkie, describing what he said were private statements from Mr. Gonzales on the subject in an effort to discredit him further with social conservatives.
Not to worry though, George Bush’s Own Personal Jesus, Karl Rove, says: “Fuck ’em”
The White House also rejected conservative attacks on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, a longtime Bush friend and adviser considered a possible nominee. Some of the president’s conservative allies have sharply warned the White House against nominating Gonzales because they view him as being too moderate, the only one of the widely circulated candidate names to generate such open opposition.
Rove, the president’s deputy chief of staff and the White House’s unofficial ambassador to conservatives, said Bush would disregard the criticism from groups that usually are friends. “He recognizes that’s just in human nature and ignores it,” Rove said in a luncheon interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.