Scott Lemieux at Lawyers Guns and Money points out that even David Brooks gets what Amy Sullivan don't.
Okay, but I'd still like to salvage the idea they're both wrong.
Brooks is continuing his mission to deny there's such a thing as a religious right, or rather that it holds any more sway with his party than any of the hundreds of other Republican factions which are constantly bickering about abortion and proper approaches to Edmund Burke. It's a sham, of course; you don't see the Landed Gentry faction or the Objectivist Society yanking Bush onto a plane and away from vacation. The only reason to read Brooks is to watch him try to come to grips with this without getting his hands dirty.
Brooks quotes a couple factoids, without citation, to the effect that teen pregnancy rates are dropping and the number of fifteen-year-old virgins increasing on his way to doing what he does best, the imaginary demographic dance. But Sullivan could cite those figures as evidence that the concerns of all those moral voters out there are real, and do real good. We're talking about the generation since MTV but also Just Say No, after all. If children now are benefitting from an increased respect for parents and ministers, as Brooks says, why shouldn't those parents and ministers continue to drive our politics?
But Brooks would rather live in that happy land where such people turn out every two years to vote Republican, then turn their attention back to the culture and leave their legislators the fuck alone. Faced with the end of the era when they did precisely that, Brooks wants to declare the debate settled...by the children themselves. Sure, 50 Cent releases "hit after pornographic hit", but it's just make believe, get it? You folks down there go back to sleep until we need you again, 'kay?
If Brooks has been made belatedly, like many of his non-social-radical compatriots, to see the real electoral threat to his party from a band of unfettered extremists, maybe Sullivan could, as Lemieux suggests, take the hint and let them fight it out among themselves instead of urging the Democrats to step in as peacemakers. Brooks' motivating factor isn't principle, it's fear.