Ramesh, I think the liberals miscalculate when they suggest social conservatives won’t take “half a loaf.” In their public advocacy, social-conservative groups do not endorse half a loaf. They stand for traditional morality. But when it comes to supporting the President, the fact that they are their voters are still standing in the Bush corner today is proof that “half a loaf” can be accepted. This President almost never discusses their issues — abortion, maybe twice a year; the homosexual revolution, a sentence in a press conference here, a small declaration there — and yet they have not denounced him or walked away. The White House has tried to take small pandering steps toward the Log Cabin Republicans, and endorsed a compromise on stem-cell research. Social conservatives winced, and stayed in the Bush corner. The FMA then becomes a bare minimum, a sign that Bush would take some small step in their direction to maintain their allegiance.
The problem we really have is that the media obsess over Bush “pandering” to the religious right, and pay zero attention to how the Democratic presidential contenders have tapdanced on whatever extreme NARAL or the Human Rights Campaign demands.