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In a column in yesterday’s KC Star, Barbara Shelly starts off well in her headline, “Wouldn’t it be great to a have Republican Party that embraced the center?” Gee, Barbara, that would be great. She finishes strong too:

Still, it’s been a good week. So good that I find myself imagining that, just maybe, the Kansas Legislature will spend more time in its next session discussing energy policy than late-term abortion …

… and that Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt will stop trying to roil his conservative base by inventing fears about “activist” judges…

… and that Missouri lawmakers will cease obsessing over potential embryos in lab dishes and start fixing the state’s fraying public universities…

… and that Jeff Roe, the local master of base-driven politics, will join Karl Rove on an extended hunting trip.

Freeze those visions as a delectable reminder of what could be.

Yes!!! I’m right there with you, Barbara. It’s what you wrote in between that scares me. More below the flip.

After an auspicious start with the headline, Shelly takes a hard right turn.

Goodbye Karl Rove.
Hello Rudy Giuliani.

Freeze this moment. The national Republican Party is suddenly looking good to me.

Rove is leaving Washington for Texas, having abandoned his bold dream of a permanent Republican majority anchored by its conservative base.

Giuliani, a centrist candidate, is sitting atop the party’s nationwide opinion polls.

Rudy Giuliani is a centrist? It’s a testament to how far right the conservative noise machine has moved the discourse in this country that Giuliani could be considered a centrist. Let’s forget his incompetence, typified by locating his emergency response HQ in a well-known terrorist target, the World Trade Center. Let’s also set aside his personal troubles, such as letting his wife know about their divorce from an interview in the New York Times. Let’s look at his actual policy positions.

On Iraq, Giuliani says that invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do.” He could also support a further escalation in Iraq above and beyond the additional troops that Bush already sent in. On torture, he says, “Whatever methods they can think of.” On foreign policy, Giuliani submits a vision called “Toward a Realistic Peace” that is neither realistic nor peaceful. Even on abortion, where Giuliani is supposedly moderate, he supports the Hyde Amendment and would appoint the right kind of activist judges.

Barbara, when you say that you wish you that the legislature would pay more attention to the state’s well-being than to the whims of religious conservatives, I’m right there with you. But when you call a man a centrist who proclaimed proudly, “Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do,” I fear for our country.