The Antiwar Right Is Ready to Rumble (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 11/07/04, NY Times)
AROUND 8 p.m. Tuesday, a gloomy mood was settling over the dozen conservative stalwarts gathered with martinis and glasses of red wine in an office in Arlington, Va., to watch the returns. Early exit polls showed President Bush trailing, and Richard Viguerie, dean of conservative direct mail, thought he knew who was to blame: the neoconservatives, the group associated with making the case for the invasion of Iraq.
“If he loses, they are going to have a bull’s-eye on their back,” Mr. Viguerie said.
Ronald Godwin, a top aide to Dr. Jerry Falwell, agreed. “I see a real battle for the Republican Party starting about Nov. 3,” he said.
The euphoria of Mr. Bush’s victory postponed the battle, but not for long. Now that Mr. Bush has secured re-election, some conservatives who say they held their tongues through the campaign season are speaking out against the neoconservatives, against the war and in favor of a speedy exit.
They argue that the war is a political liability to the Republican Party, but also that it runs counter to traditional conservatives’ disdain for altruist interventions to make far-off parts of the world safe for American-style democracy. Their growing outspokenness recalls the dynamics of American politics before Vietnam, when Democrats first became identified as doves and Republicans hawks, suggesting to some the complicated political pressures facing the foreign policy of the second Bush administration.
Since he was chosen to cover the conservative beat for the Times, Mr. Kirkpatrick has written one story after another about the disgruntled base and how it threatens the President’s grip on power. To look out upon the electorate that went to the polls on Tuesday–where the GOP