The NYT reports that John DiIulio says that "the religious right and libertarians trust Mr. Rove 'to keep Bush 43 from behaving too much like Bush 41 and moving too far to the center or inching at all to the center-left.'"
A show of hands, please? Are there any libertarians who trust Karl "steel tariffs and farm bill" Rove to push the administration in a desirable direction, on more or less anything?
Now DiIulio is a very smart man, and this would be an awfully dumb thing to say. So it wouldn't shock me to find that this is a problem in the NYT reporter's paraphrase ['the religious right and libertarians trust Mr.Rove' are the NYT's words, not attributed to DiIulio], not something he said himself. It could also be the Esquire reporter. We won't know until the Esquire article comes out. But whoever said it, this is the silliest statement I've seen in the paper in... oh, days now, since 'way back when the Times claimed that Nozick considered Rawls' view "nonsense."
UPDATE: Look at that: Dan had already blogged telling me to "take it away" on precisely that comment. Dan's got a burst of new stuff today; take a look.
UPDATE AGAIN: DiIulio says that the article misquotes him and makes stuff up (via InstaPundit).
FINAL UPDATE: He said it.
The Republican base constituencies, including beltway libertarian policy elites and religious right leaders, trust him to keep Bush "43" from behaving like Bush "41" and moving too far to the center or inching at all center-left. Their shared fiction, supported by zero empirical electoral studies, is that "41" lost in '92 because he lost these right-wing fans. There are not ten House districts in America where either the libertarian litany or the right-wing religious policy creed would draw majority popular approval, and, most studies suggest, Bush "43" could have done better versus Gore had he stayed more centrist, but, anyway, the fiction is enshrined as fact.