NYT Week in Review, July 31, 2005
In recent years, cultural conservatives, once the fiery insurgents of their party, have become the central pillar of the new G.O.P. establishment. They dominate presidential primaries and caucuses, even in a nominal blue state like New Jersey. Their advocates in Washington can bestow or deny credibility to legislation and presidential aspirants alike. And they have even begun to supplant Wall Street businessmen as the party's financial base.
Yet the early list of Republican White House contenders is dominated by politicians whose commitment to conservative orthodoxy is newfound, inconstant or diminishing.
They include Mr. Frist; George E. Pataki, who announced last week that he would not run for a fourth term as governor of New York; Senator John McCain of Arizona; Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts — Massachusetts? — and, of course, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, a job that before Mr. Giuliani held it might have ranked only slightly ahead of "former pornographer" in its unsuitability for G.O.P. candidates seeking higher office.
What's a fundamentalist party to do when it can't come up with an orthodox candidate? All that potential and no where to put it.
How about Santorum? Or Brownback?