Read the Coalition for Fog lately? Or Linda Chavez' pleas for legal torture? Or, in my comboxes, Tom McKenna's recent attempts to dissent from Nostra Aetate and suggest that Vatican II is in error to say that Jews are not rejected by God and the old covenant has not been revoked. Heard Bill O'Reilly's breezy dismissals of the notion that the Church should have anything to say about the treatment of aliens? How about the guffaws directed at the notion that the state has an obligation to care for the common good in the matter of health care or housing (That's socialism!).
There is most certainly dissent on the Right when it comes to inconvenient Church teaching.
If Mark has a serious argument to make that Victor and I are publicly dissenting from Catholic teaching, I would be very interested to here it. More to the point, I would be very interested in just how exactly he fits us into that category and not the numerous Catholic apologists such as Dave Armstrong or Jimmy Akin. We have repeatedly stated that our views on torture are essentially the same as their own (and I would challenge Mark to demonstrate otherwise) and if Mark is going to make claims of this nature, I think that the onus is on him to put up or shut up. Bearing a false witness is still a sin, when last I checked.
That said, let me just address a couple of specific points that were raised in the comments.
Use of the government by social conservatives - I have a lot of respect for Cal Thomas, but I think that this is a red herring. Bush's much-cited faith-based initiatives have generated very little of permanent substance, near as I can determine. In nearly every case where social conservatives have sought to seriously enlist the power of the state, it was almost always a defensive measure. Arguing that we need to rely simply on cultural changes to win the culture wars for us seems to me to be something of a category mistake: of course we need a cultural shift in order to win the culture wars, but to argue that in order to do so that we should basically cede an incredibly substantive piece of ground to the enemy at such a crucial moment strikes me as exceedingly unwise. It is precisely for this reason, I would argue, that social conservatives should be extremely wary of any lack of enthusiasm with the current politics lead them either to make bad political alliances (i.e. Giuliani) or take part in the kind of political disengagement that some seem to favor. It was referenced in the comments that the number of abortions in the United States has been declining over time and while this true, does anyone believe that this would have occurred in the absence of a large and politically active pro-life movement?
Giuliani being functionally pro-life - I read the arguments and remain extremely skeptical of this view. At best, it would seem that Giuliani might, might be practically neutral on the abortion issue based on what I continue to regard as extremely ambiguous statements. And while I am not trying to be uncharitable to Giuliani supporters, I think that a number of similarly ambiguous statements have been made by a number of Democratic candidates over the years but have not been accepted as credible by social conservatives. Like I have stated previously, I think that a lot of the reasons that conservatives have cited to embrace Giuliani would not have been accepted for a moment were it being argued in favor of McCain, Lieberman, Romney or a host of other candidates. When you consider the fact that a lot of these candidates actually agree with both social conservatives and conservatives in general on more issues than does Giuliani, I hope that you can see why this eagerness to embrace Giuliani resembles a kind of cult of personality to me.
One other thought that I might put forth is that one of the reasons why the 2008 election cycle has started so early is because George Bush is so weakened domestically. I think that a lot of this is his own fault, though not for the reasons that a lot of his critics, Mark among them, are likely to recognize. As a result, a lot of conservatives are currently looking for an alternate leader, hence the reason the horserace has started so early. As can be seen from the current situation with Attorney General Gonzalez, the Democrats have pretty much achieved their objective of reducing the administration to a position of political impotency. If success is achieved in Baghdad, it will be because of the succes of General Petraeus on the battlefield rather than because of the administration's ability to maintain domestic support for the war. At best, I suspect that all that it can do is prevent the Democrats from completely defunding the war. Time will tell if that is enough.