Calling key conservatives

questionsSome solid reporting by The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow on how the administration notified key conservatives, both economic and religious, of Bush's choice to nominate Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. In referencing conversations with the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission chief Richard Land, Hallow shows how Bush wanted to pick someone "who could rally the troops." Here's the gist:

Karl Rove called key conservative interest group leaders yesterday morning to give them a heads-up just before the White House made public President Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.

Many of the same conservatives had been labeled "sexist" and "elitist" by the White House for their criticisms of Harriet Miers, Mr. Bush's previous court choice. But all seemed forgiven yesterday as leaders across the Republican spectrum, from economic libertarians to religious conservatives, united in praise of the Alito nomination.

The chance to heal a rift between the president and his conservative supporters brought the personal involvement of Mr. Rove, the political strategist who just days earlier had been the object of press speculation that he might face criminal indictment.

What other unreported conversations have Bush and his aides had with religious leaders? At what point does this become a religious test? Harriet Miers clearly passed some people's religious test as they found her adequate for the highest court in the land based largely on her personal faith in God and personal integrity.

Those are questions that I believe reporters should start asking more often, and Hallow should have found room for these questions somewhere in his story.

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