Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that, "President Bush isn't a conservative. He's a radical - the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is." Carl Bernstein repeated a similar allegation on MSNBC's Scarborough Country on Tuesday night.
The assertion is either absurd or dishonest, or both, and those who make it are either fools or knaves, or both. To see why let's look at what the claim is based upon.
George Bush is said to be a radical because he opposes gay marriage and proposes a constitutional ammendment to prevent it. Bush is accused of trying to impose a religious belief on the rest of the nation, but this is silly. He is not trying to impose anything, rather he's seeking to preserve a two thousand year old institution which is essential to the well-being of our children and of our society. Indeed, it is his opponents who are attempting to impose a radical change upon society by by-passing state legislatures and having judges override the will of the people on this matter through the exercise of judicial fiat.
George Bush is called a radical because he opposes abortion on demand and would probably appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would roll back Roe v. Wade. At least three justices on the Court today believe that Roe is an extra-constitutional overreach on the part of the Supreme Court in 1973 and that it was very poorly decided. Even many liberals, Michael Kinsley comes to mind, who do not want it overturned have said the same thing. Maybe half the country agrees that it should be reversed and the decision as to whether abortions should be legal returned to each state so that the people of that state can decide the issue for themselves. Why is that radical?
President Bush is called a radical because he opposes the use of federal tax dollars to subsidize embryonic stem cell research. His policy is essentially an extension of the state of affairs as it was under Bill Clinton. He believes that the embryo is a living human being and, therefore, if it is going to be sacrificed for scientific research, taxpayers should not be compelled to pay for its destruction any more than they should be compelled to pay for abortions. If private industry or universities wish to carry out this research, Bush has put no barriers in their way. He has only declared that such research will not be funded by tax dollars. How does that make him radical?
President Bush is called a radical because he believes that God grants world leaders wisdom if they seek His will, and he believes that God acts in human history. This belief places him in the company of a long line of great presidents including George Washington and Ronald Reagan. It also puts him in the company of some Democratic presidents like Jimmy Carter. Most of the people in this country, whether they are Christian or not, believe pretty much what George Bush believes. In fact, the convictions George Bush embraces place him in the historical mainstream in this country, so what is radical about that?
A radical is one who seeks to overturn the settled practice and norms of a society. A conservative seeks to preserve them. A radical is a member of a minority who is well out of the mainstream of social and political thought. A conservative may be in the minority, but usually he is not. George Bush either does not wish to overturn settled norms, or, if he does, as in the legal acceptance of abortion on demand, his position is not out of the mainstream. Fifty percent of the country agrees with him. Krugman and Bernstein know this, but it suits their purposes to simply paint the President as an extremist even though they're fully aware that he's not. That's why their claims are both foolish and dishonest.
We hear that some Democrats, Lawrence O'Donnell for instance, are recommending secession of Blue states from the union as a viable response to Bush's election. Presumably, these desperate souls hope to form a country where women will be able to abort their babies willy-nilly, unhindered by the sort of qualms voiced by those dreadful pro-lifers; where gays will be able to marry freely and marriage will mean whatever "enlightened", "reality-based" people want it to mean; where entertainment celebrities will decide how the police and military will be employed, if at all; where no Christians will be admitted to the public square, in order to insure social tranquility; and where 70% tax rates, or higher, will be imposed on the wealthy to insure social equality. Sounds like heaven on earth.