James, it strikes me that a politician can’t crusade on social-moral — come on, let’s be frank with ourselves: sexual — issues because the nature of the authority from which such a witness must draw is essentially apolitical. A politician cannot legitimately enforce them, because the distributions of power which sketch out a justice do not speak to the ultimate limits within which that power is distributed. “Social conservatives” might like to see Their Man in Washington changing water (political law) into wine (social law), but someone who’s both a social and a political conservative must understand that the culture war has been lost if it must be won at political bayonetpoint.
That said, the bargain Rudy can offer is that he won’t do all the things that Bush has done which have rankled social conservatives — which, I suspect, are more rankling than the things that Bush hasn’t done. In return, should something socially conservative cross his desk, as a Republican president he lets it be law, probably by signature. The luxury of bracketing one’s principles in the name of higher office allows the rhetorical point of party loyalty to break all ties: what’s he going to do, shoot down his own team’s bill? Some chief. Somehow I sense that this — as well as truly socioconservative legislation busting its way out of Congress over the next four years — is a scenario none of us is likely to see.