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Fundies twisting in the wind?

“We can’t afford to alienate moderate voters any more than they are already alienated… . Issues have a shelf life. Gay marriage passed everywhere [on state ballots] in 2004, but today, a lot of people look at that issue and think, ‘It is so over and done.’ Our party base is already fracturing, and if we emphasize gay marriage now, it would create new divisions.”
— GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio

The moderates and the bible beaters are getting antsy as The Base roils about getting what it wants. Isn’t this fun?

There’s a really interesting column up by Dick Polman of the Philly Inquirer, Gay-marriage ban a no-win deal for Bush, that captures the bind that the fundies and the GOP are in — Dear Leader hasn’t been pushing hard enough, and they are whining big time.

To religious-right leader Gary Bauer, the president’s underwhelming effort is “inexplicable.” Bauer said the other day that Bush “should be calling members of Congress, twisting arms, making public statements, rallying the troops. This issue is extremely important to his base. This administration needs to get its base back.” He warned that if Bush doesn’t crusade against gay marriage, “this is just going to be one more thing that keeps people at home on Election Day.”

PAM’S FUN FACT: Gary fell off a stage while flipping pancakes during his failed presidential run in 2000.

A similar warning was issued by Tony Perkins, another religious-right leader, who told Fox News on Wednesday that Bush faced “the very real potential of deflating what’s left of the GOP base. They deflated the fiscal conservatives, because of [the increases in] spending, and now they risk deflating the social conservatives by failing to act on our interests.”

…What Bauer didn’t mention is that the polls show far less support for amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. And the subject doesn’t seem to register on the intensity scale, either. The latest Fox News poll, released Friday, listed the 20 issues that Americans are most concerned about, and gay marriage didn’t even make the list.

As the social conservatives lose their boner, one has to ask — what about the two Supreme Court appointments; wasn’t that their Holy Grail? Is that simply not enough? We all know the answer is no. It never will be enough.

Look at the politicians cozying up to the fundies, even in light of the polls showing public support of gays and lesbian relationships is climbing. The June Senate vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment is one big get-out-the-vote stimulator for the fall, because the social and religious conservatives are losing their patience and may sit out the midterms. Watch — Bush is going to let the fundies and those up for re-election twist in the wind.

That reality is a big reason why the Senate vote next month is just a gesture to the religious right. Sixty-seven senators are needed to pass a constitutional amendment, and there’s no way GOP leaders can goad even all their own senators to vote for it. (John McCain is against it.)

Hence, Bush’s difficult position. He can steer clear of the fight, as he is doing now, and risk alienating religious conservatives who await their reward for services rendered. Or he can spend precious capital in a losing cause, and risk alienating moderates and independents.

Don’t worry, he won’t spend his capital on the faithful — he’s looking out for Number One.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding