Thursday, February 02, 2006

Short Takes

- If you read anything from the papers today, make it Peter Slavin's profile of former senator John Danforth in the Washington Post. Danforth, you'll recall, has become a critic of the religious right's control over the GOP, and Slavin's article allows him to continue that trend. Please check out the whole thing, but here's a taste to whet your appetite:

"A man of God and the GOP, he is speaking out for moderation -- in religion, politics, science and government. The lanky figure once dubbed "St. Jack," not always warmly, for the perch he seemed to occupy on Washington's moral high ground, expects people will sour on the assertive brand of Christianity so closely branded Republican.

'I'm counting on nausea,' he says.

In a political year that promises a fresh battle for the national soul, religion is emerging as a tool and a test, with Danforth's words marking a fissure within the GOP. The conservative evangelical Christian movement that helped propel President Bush and congressional Republicans into power has become a big, fat target, even as Democrats and GOP moderates agonize about how to capture more votes from the faithful.

'The Republican Party has been taken over by something that it's not,' Danforth says over a suitably austere lunch of steamed vegetables in a well-appointed 40th-floor St. Louis club overlooking the Mississippi. 'How do traditional Republicans put up with this? They put up with this because it's a winning combination, for now. It won't last.'

Why won't it last?

'It won't stand the light of day,' Danforth says in one of several conversations. 'The more people think about it, the more people will resist it. People do not want a sectarian political party, including a lot of people who are traditional Republicans.'"

- House leadership elections are this afternoon, with the caucus meeting scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. I had thus far resisted picking a horse in the race to replace Tom DeLay, but over the course of the last week or so have become convinced that of the candidates, only John Shadegg of Arizona is committed to serious reform. He is conservative (very conservative) but if had to pick between more conservative or less willing to reform, I'll take the former.

- The White House is apparently resisting requests by the Senate Judiciary Committee for documents related to the warrantless wiretapping issue. I urge the Committee and Chairman Specter to stick to their position on this and demand the information necessary to hold a complete hearing on the legality of this program.

- Joe Gandelman has a great synopsis of the light-speed about-face by the White House on the president's single appealing initiative from the SotU. I can't say I'm surprised.

- Dennis at NeoMugwump offers some support for the endangered DINO (Democrat in Name Only), the RINO's cretacean counterpart in the middle of the aisle. I heartily agree with his post.

- I haven't seen much inked spilled about this Newsweek story, which discusses a mini-revolt among (conservative, Bush-appointed) DoJ lawyers against the Cheney-staff-driven torture and warrantless wiretapping measures. It's worth a read.


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