Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
I think there is a civil war brewing, but it isn't really the war Bartlett imagines. There are too few sensible Republicans, and they've mostly thrown their reputations down the gutter these past 4 years. They lack the numbers, fortitude, and will to go up against the clowns in power.
There won't be a war between the crazies and the sensible people. What would cause the civil war to happen would be the massive leadership vacuum that would exist if both George Bush and Tom DeLay were somehow removed from power. The Republican party right now has no unifying ideology other than "tax cuts for rich are good" and "gay people such as Mary Cheney are bad." Loyalty to Bush on foreign policy and loyalty to DeLay (with input from Rove) on domestic policy is what binds them together. Remove them, and there will be quite the fight. But, I don't think removing just one would be enough.