Monday, January 7, 2008

The Conservative Conundrum

Mike Huckabee's win in Iowa has thrown GOP conservatives into a tizzy. Huckabee is not a genuine conservative, they allege. He's really a liberal Democrat on economic issues, and he's squishy on illegal immigration. He lacks foreign policy experience (This charge is a bit laughable. No president since 1950 except Dwight Eisenhower and the elder George Bush had any foreign policy experience.).

The problem is that there's no one among the top four Republicans who is reliably conservative. They all have their good points and their bad.

Mitt Romney, who claims now to be pro-life and opposed to any erosion of traditional marriage, was in favor of both abortion on demand and gay marriage back in the '90s. Romney comes across as a Rockefeller Republican, a rich, dull, elitist, yuppie who just doesn't relate to the average Republican voter.

John McCain has been steadfast in the war on terror, his advocacy of free markets, and in his opposition to abortion, but has been guilty of several betrayals of Republicans in the last eight years. His authorship of McCain-Feingold is going to cling to him like a bad smell as will his past open borders positions and his opposition to Bush's tax cuts. He also has anger-management problems that may plague him.

Rudy Giuliani has a terrible record on illegal immigration and is liberal on almost every social issue. He's as far out of the GOP mainstream as anyone can get and still be a viable candidate. Nevertheless, he's seen as stalwart against crime and terrorism and that's not nothing.

Mike Huckabee talks a conservative line but he, too, has appeared lax on illegal immigration and has been too willing, in the minds of some, to raise taxes. His desire to separate himself from the Bush administration on the war doesn't sit well with a lot of people, me included. Nevertheless, no one doubts his commitment to ending the current abortion regime and his strong affirmation of the traditional family.

The problem for conservative voters is that the most authentic conservative candidates are Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter. They are both good men, but it will take a miracle to boost Fred into contention for the nomination, and it doesn't seem as if even a miracle could get Hunter there.


Just Shut Up And Go Away

A new 70 page book titled Science, Evolution and Creationism published by the National Academy of Sciences claims that "attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist," and offers statements from several eminent biologists and members of the clergy to support the view. The article linked to in the previous sentence says this:

The panel of authors reports that evidence for the theory of evolution is overwhelming and growing. It cites findings from DNA research, fossil discoveries and the observations scientists have made about emerging diseases, like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The book also denounces the arguments for a form of creationism called intelligent design, calling them devoid of evidence, "disproven" or "simply false."

The writers must be joking. The main tenet of ID is that natural physical processes are inadequate to account for the fine-tuning of the cosmos and the high levels of specified complexity found among living things. These phenomena, IDers assert, point to an underlying intelligence or mind, which is also what most theistic religions hold to be true. To call this assertion false is to imply that the universe and life are completely explicable in terms of physical mechanisms and that any resort to intelligence or purpose or intentional agency is wrong. This is, however, the same as charging that the fundamental religious belief of millions of people is simply mistaken. It's as hard to understand as it is humorous to reflect upon how the authors can claim that attempts to pit science against religion are unnecessary and then turn right around and allege that the basis of all theistic religions is false.

Perhaps what the authors of this book really intend to say is that of course there's no need for controversy between science and religion as long as religious people just admit they're wrong, shut up and go away.