I thought it deficient on a number of points. Because pro-lifers were split on Bush’s stem-cell policy, it’s now possible to defy them costlessly on an issue where they’re not split, like the vice-presidential nomination? The pro-life influence on the veep pick seems to me to be higher, not lower, than it was in 1980. Also recall that Bush pointedly declined to pick a platform fight with pro-lifers in 2000, unlike Dole in 1996.
As for affirmative action, I don’t see how the Court’s decision takes the issue off the table. Opposition to preferences was not doing well in the GOP, sure, which has more to do with Bush and corporate America than it does with the courts. But opposition to preferences is still popular with the public. Saying that there’s no political ground to stand on now that the Court has settled the issue is like saying, in 1973, that Roe had settled the abortion issue and nobody would ever be able to run against it; like saying, in 1978, that Bakke had settled racial preferences for all time. The Court’s latest decision doesn’t even make that claim for itself.
Finally, on issues related to homosexuality there is indeed a large cultural and political shift going on. But to say that these issues are over is premature, as Bill Frist’s endorsement of a Federal Marriage Amendment indicates. I’ve heard that Frist is interested in having a future in the Republican party.