Thursday, July 10, 2003

You know, for a good ol' fashioned belly laugh, nothing beats the subtitle of NRO article: "Is the GOP conservative?"

Go ahead. Wait until you recover before you continue reading. I'm still chuckling.

The article is mostly just a grab bag of standard extreme conservative complaints about the Republicans. There's the whining about "entitlement programs" (a code phrase for social security), affirmative action, the legalization of sodomy, the Supreme Court, etc. These are easily countered with the multitude of ways in which the Bush administration and the GOP have been true-blue conservatives, and to an extent NRO acknowledges this, saying that "it is not Bush's fault that Democrats oppose entitlement reform, or that the public wants it less than it wants a new entitlement to prescription drugs. " They don't seem to understand that the government should, well, respond to the public's wishes even if they break with ideology, but they acknowledge that those wishes exist, at least.

Still, all of this is fairly standard ideological ranting about the realities of government.

What's really bizarre about this, though, is their main charge at Bush: that he isn't vetoing bills.

It is not Bush's fault that Democrats oppose entitlement reform, or that the public wants it less than it wants a new entitlement to prescription drugs. He should, however, have used the veto more effectively to restrain spending. Had he vetoed the farm bill, for example, Congress would have sent him a better one. We need presidential leadership on issues other than war and taxes. Instead we are getting the first full presidential term to go without a veto since John Quincy Adams. Bush's advisers may worry that for Bush to veto the bills of a Republican Congress would muddle party distinctions for voters. But this dilemma results from a failure of imagination. Why must the House Republican leadership always maintain control of the floor? When Democrats and liberal Republicans have the votes to pass a bill, sometimes it would be better to let them do so, and then have the president veto it. The alternative — cobbling together some lite version of a liberal bill in order to eke out a congressional majority — is what really makes it hard to press the case against big-spending Democrats.
I think it should be honestly asked: are the editors that wrote this absolutely stark raving mad? No, seriously, they can't be this stupid, so there's going to be some crossed wiring involved. Of course Bush hasn't been vetoing bills! Those advisors have a damned good reason to not want Bush to veto those bills. Has NRO even considered how bad it would look for the President to stand against a Congress controlled entirely by his own party? How the Democrats would play this up, gleeful at the prospect of being able to show the Republicans as a party so incredibly divided that one of the most powerful Republican presidents in ages is forced to veto bills... by a party whose fortunes are owed almost entirely to the political acumen of the very same advisors that NRO is taking potshots at? Any rhetoric of bipartisanship would be entirely dead, and the Republicans have spent decades redefining bipartisanship to suit their purposes.

Has NRO even considered how the press would look at this? It'd be a circus! It'd be a story that sticks around for ages because it'd be so inherently funny and sad at the same time. Political moderates and liberals would be all over the media portraying Bush as such an enormous extremist that he's too much for Congressional Republicans. The amazing part is... they would be right. Bush would position himself as being more conservative than a body led by Tom DeLay.

No, NRO, vetos aren't an option. Sorry, that's the price you pay for a pet Congress.

Ok, leaving vetoing aside, what else are they advocating? You probably aren't going to believe this, either:

Republicans need a strategy for dealing with the judicial usurpation of politics that goes beyond trying to make good appointments to the bench — a strategy that now has a two-generation track record of nearly unrelieved failure. On gay marriage, a constitutional amendment appears to be necessary to forestall the mischief of state and federal courts. But a mere statute can make the point that Congress controls the federal judiciary's purview. Congressman Todd Akin's bill to strip the federal judiciary of jurisdiction over the Pledge of Allegiance has the votes to pass the House, and has a powerful Senate sponsor in Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch. It should be high on the Republican agenda.
Let's leave aside the grand fun that would be watching that "stripping bill" get struck down by the Supreme Court as a clear attempt by one branch of the Government to control another's job, exactly the same thing the Republicans are (erroneously) ascribing to the Court.

Can anybody even imagine what the battle over a anti-Gay constitutional amendment would be like, and what it would do to the Republicans in the eyes of moderates? Not only would it be exceedingly unlikely that the thing would go anywhere, but the attempt to push it would be music in the ears of ever Democrat who tried to win an election by portraying the Republicans as intolerant bigots. It'd be the sound that launched a thousand attack ads, and it would ensure that the moderates would desert to the Democrats in droves.

Simply incredible. I can only hope that conservatives take it seriously, because nothing would ruin the party faster than impatient and unrealistic conservatives "declaring their independence". If the Democrats were smart, they'd find a way of fanning the flames of this self-destructive movement. It could only be to their benefit.

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