Evangelical leaders apparently buy the argument that Bush owes his re-election victory to them, and according to this Los Angeles Times piece today, they are demanding results.
Jerry Falwell has spoken to Karl Rove three times since the election, and Arlen Specter even called Falwell to assure him he won't block Bush's court nominees. Falwell is now working to shoot down the rising stars of Republicans like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani -- they are too moderate for Falwell's GOP. Evangelicals think Andy Card is too moderate, too, the Times' Peter Wallsten reports; perhaps Card is who Bob Jones III was referring to when he told Bush in a letter to "shed" himself of "weaklings who do not share his biblical values."
How much power will evangelicals really have in shaping Bush's second-term agenda and the judicial nominee process? Unclear, but they're sure talking tough. From the Times piece:
"Business as usual isn't going to cut it, where the GOP rides to victory by espousing traditional family values and then turns around and rewards the liberals in its ranks," said Robert Knight, who heads an affiliate of Concerned Women for America, a Christian conservative advocacy group. Knight also said: "The president has to stop endorsing homosexuality indirectly by supporting civil unions and called the Specter issue "a very big test" to see if the GOP leadership understood "the depth of what occurred on Nov. 2."
"If they decide to elevate Specter anyway, they will alienate millions of people who counted on them to begin pushing back liberalism instead of aiding and abetting it," he said.
The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, warned that "if Republican leaders in Congress allowed Specter to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, their political futures could be at risk."