Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Three Tips

Casey Luskin at the Discovery Institute offers students going back to school this fall three good suggestions if they're expecting to study evolutionary theory in their classes, but his advice is good regardless of the courses students might be taking.

Here are his tips:

  • Never opt out of learning evolution. In fact, learn about evolution every chance you get.
  • Think for yourself, think critically, and question assumptions.
  • Proactively learn about credible scientific viewpoints that dissent from Darwinism on your own time, even if your classes censor those non-evolutionary viewpoints.

The real value of Luskin's advice is in his explanations of these three recommendations. Check them out at the link.


He Won't Do It

William McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal that President Obama is on the brink of failure but that he can save his presidency by taking a lesson from Bill Clinton:

Back in 1994, Mr. Clinton faced pretty much the same problem. Though he too had won the White House promising to be a new kind of Democrat, his first two years had a distinctly liberal tenor: battling over gays in the military, promoting a new energy tax, turning a promised middle-class tax cut into a huge tax hike, and trying to push through universal health care. Though he continues to deny GOP contributions to his success, after his 1994 health-care defeat, Mr. Clinton did what all smart pols do: He appropriated the most appealing parts of his opponents' agenda.

The result was a new Bill Clinton, embracing everything from deregulation and welfare reform to the Defense of Marriage Act. In his 1996 State of the Union, he even struck a Reaganite chord by announcing that "the era of Big Government is over." From this newly held center, Mr. Clinton advanced his presidency and pushed, both successfully and unfairly, to demonize Mr. Gingrich. Mostly he got away with it.

In his book "The Pact," historian Steven M. Gillon puts it this way: "Ironically, Gingrich's revolution may have saved the Clinton presidency by freeing him from the control of his party's more liberal base in Congress, giving him the opportunity to return to the moderate message that helped him win election in the first place.

McGurn says that If Obama loses on health care he would be wise to follow Clinton's example and move to the right. The problem with this is that it assumes that Obama has no ideological principles. It assumes that he's just a politician who doesn't care about policy except insofar as it keeps him in office. I think this misreads the man. President Clinton was by nature a moderate. It was not difficult for him to wrest himself free of the leftists in his party and seek accomodation and compromise with the more conservative Newt Gingrich. Obama, however, is a left-wing ideologue. The Progressive agenda is his life-blood. It's the air he breaths. He can no more move to the right than Rush Limbaugh can move to the left.

If Obama doesn't get health care reform he will keep fighting for the liberal policies he believes in. He'll fight for big government, for cap and trade, for the fairness doctrine, for a private security force, for union card check, as long as he's president. He has surrounded himself with people who are as ideologically committed as he is. He can no more abandon all that than a fish could abandon water.

If President Obama does not get health care reform he will probably be severely weakened and unlikely to get much else. If so, he will probably be a one-term president, but he will never be a moderate.


Ted Kennedy (1932-2009)

We woke this morning to the news that Senator Ted Kennedy has succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 77. Much will be said about his political legacy, which will be substantial, having served in the U.S. Senate for 47 years, but I'm struck by a more prosaic thought. Senator Kennedy was one of four Kennedy brothers - all of whom seemed destined for political greatness - and all of whom except Ted died long before their time. In fact, their deaths spanned my lifetime. The oldest, Joe, was killed in WWII. John and Robert were both assassinated in the 1960s (The only time I ever saw Ted in person was when the train bearing JFK's body passed my house and Ted was standing on the back of the train as it passed).

Senator Kennedy's life was filled with scandal and tragedy, but he managed despite it all to become one of the most influential voices ever to serve in American politics. As a young man he seemed the least promising of the Kennedy brothers, but he managed to overcome personal shortcomings and inadequacies to become one of the most influential politicians of the last forty years.

He will be mourned by friends on both sides of the political aisle.