The Corner

Voinovich and the South

Kathleen Parker provides a gloss on the senator’s recent remarks: “Whatever Voinovich’s sound effects were intended to convey, his meaning was clear enough: Those ignorant, right-wing, Bible-thumping rednecks are ruining the party.” What was interesting about Voinovich’s remarks — which I think are fairly read as a complaint that the party is too conservative in tone, and possibly in substance as well — is that they came from someone who has voted with the National Right to Life Committee 100 percent of the time as a senator, supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, and done a lot to promote school choice. The implicit criticism of the party, then, is not what one normally associates with the phrase “Bible thumping.” Voinovich truly differs from the mainstream of his party in being friendlier to government activism. Southern Republicans, very much including DeMint and Coburn, the senators Voinovich singled out for criticism, tend to be more anti-statist than the rest of the party (and, of course, the nation).

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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