They held a “private” meeting on Saturday in Salt Lake City to discuss the issue, according to Salon and WND. And as with all “private” political endeavors in which “private citizen” James Dobson is involved, the details ended up in the papers as a threat to party leaders not to defy the religious base. Think of it as the evangelical equivalent of Tom Friedman’s dopey “9/11 is over” column in the Times this weekend: social cons weren’t going to subordinate their domestic priorities to the war on terror forever, and so, ironically, with Mr. 9/11 himself possibly heading up the ticket, they’re ready to declare 9/11 “over” for them too by shattering the coalition of hawks.

Shrewd move. The GOP’s already looking at near-certain defeat so evangelicals can walk away without worrying overly much about costing Republicans the election. Plus, the fact that they’re willing to make good on their threat will put the, ahem, fear of God into the rest of the party ahead of 2012 and restore some of the emphasis on “values” that’s been lost in the jumble of terrorism and Iraq. In fact, if I were Dobson, I’d almost hope Giuliani wins the nomination just so I can play my trump. That sort of power play will inevitably and irretrievably alienate a few centrist conservatives like me but the GOP can afford to shed us. They can’t afford to shed Christians. That’ll mean leftist rule for awhile but eventually the MoveOn crowd will overplay its hand and alienate some centrist Democrats and things will even out. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long.

Exit question: Who’ll be the “Christian nominee”? Forget Newt; he’s too much of a party man to play Nader to Rudy’s Gore. The WND article mentions someone named Foster Friess, but it’d be stupid to nominate a no-name like that who can’t attract any votes that aren’t being handed to him by Dobson et al. How about Alan Keyes?