Too Little, Too Late?

The last time we wrote about the House Values Action Team it was to note that its right-wing agenda had been gutted in the House Republicans’ 2008 campaign agenda for American families. At the time, House VAT chairman Joe Pitts dismissed the obvious implication that House Republicans were trying to distance themselves from the GOP’s right-wing base, saying that “when we come out with the whole big picture,” the social issues the Right cares about will be front and center.

But it looks like Pitts has realized that vague assurances are not going to cut it this time around and so the VAT is back with its own agenda to let the Right know they have not been forgotten:

Hoping to get their issues back on the front page of the GOP agenda, socially conservative Republicans will introduce their wish list on Thursday to the House Republican Conference.

The House Values Agenda, crafted by Values Action Team (VAT) Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), has five major components: life, religious liberty, marriage, parental rights and protecting children.

Bills on each issue will be introduced later this year.

Much of the legislation on the values agenda has been introduced in previous Congresses, but it highlights issues — such as abortion and gay marriage — that some social conservatives have felt have been ignored by Republicans this election year. Social issues were a huge component of President Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004.

The package also includes several bills aimed at regulating indecent programming and protecting children from online predators.

Of course, even this time around the social issues the Religious Right cares about still isn’t going to get much play from House Republicans:

Pitts spokesman Andrew Cole said that, for now, the agenda will be encouraged on an internal conference level rather than in a large rollout, citing the importance of keeping the conference firmly focused on energy.

So the VAT is unveiling an agenda aimed at pleasing the Right, which has been feeling jilted and neglected, on its favorite issues of abortion and gay marriage, but it doesn’t plan to actually push the issues in any high-profile manner. That kind of halfhearted outreach ought to really energize the Right heading into the November election.