05/24/2005 10:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Will No-Nuke Deal Drive Social Cons from GOPers? Probably Not

Is it the hour? (Ten o'clock can be quite late when you have had to contend with a five-year-old tired out from a grueling class trip to the zoo and a sick four-year-old who kept screaming "I want my dinner now!" while you were fumbling in the cabinet for the right kind of organic soup.) But I don't quite get Chris Meserole's point. He starts by noting that I had written that social con James Dobson decried the no-nuke compromise in the Senate as a loss for the Republicans and that I had concluded that the deal--which severely weakens the filibuster (perhaps to the point of inoperability)--was more of a gain than a defeat for the GOP. Then Meserole cuts to Dobson's statement in which Dobson (A) calls the agreement "a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats" but (B) praises Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for his courageous leadership and (C) warns that he and millions of his followers--"who helped put Republicans in power last November"--will remember the "Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

Meserole finds good news (for a Democrat) in this statement: Dobson and his posse (of millions) are "likely to simply stay home" in 2008 and the GOP has lost the 3 million or so votes that gave Bush and the party the last election.

I read Dobson's angry-in-the-moment missive more as a kick at the so-called moderate Repubs who brokered the deal. The Dobsonites may not turn out for a generic Republican. But I don't see why they wouldn't flock (like sheep?) to a social conservative Republican who boot-licks Dobson. And--if we're talking about 2008 GOP contenders--there are plenty out there auditioning for the part, including Senator Sam Brownback, Senator Rick Santorum, and Colorado Governor Bill Owens (whose messy separation from his wife may be a disqualifier). And Meserole opines that Frist's 2008 campaign is "essentially over before it began." I wouldn't bet any money--not even my paycheck from HuffPost Inc.--on Frist, but he may still be able to mount a campaign. Winning a Supreme Court battle--and the agreement Dobson detests may help Frist do that--would go a long way toward fueling a potential Frist campaign.

As much as I would like to agree with Meserole and as much as I would be heartened to see Dobson and his followers say sayonara to Republicans because the Senate was not nuked (and because George W. Bush and Jeb Bush declined to order a joint federal-state military intervention in the Terri Schiavo case), I would not at this point happily predict that the Gang of 14 has dispatched Dobson and his Gang of Three Million to the wilderness.