Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fear of Giuliani

One of the dominant storylines of the GOP presidential campaign thus far has been the standoff between social conservatives and front-runner Rudy Giuliani. Every motive/explanation under the sun has been ascribed to the hostility of James Dobson et al to Giuliani--immaturity, selfishness, short-sightedness...rarely examined has been the Politico's latest stab at an answer: Fear.

Fear, the Politico suggests, that a pro-choice nomination will permanently cripple the power that social conservatives have in the party in the future.

It gets close...but still not close enough. Fear, yes--but a far more fundamental fear.

The Republican Party is pro-life for one reason, and one reason only: because the Democratic Party is pro-choice. Opposing the donkey is the only virtue the GOP sees in it; it is a position party "moderates" can and do discard at the drop of a hat.

If party leadership believed they could gain more votes by adopting a pro-choice stance than they would lose by jettisoning their pro-life stance, they would do so in a heartbeat--and the pro-choice wing of the party has been urging Republicans to jettison away from almost the second the GOP adopted a pro-life platform.

A Giuliani nomination/presidency will very likely trigger just that.

That is the nightmare scenario that is prompting social conservatives to threaten to pre-emptively shatter the Republican coalition: a two-party system with two pro-choice parties.


Sunday, October 28, 2007


Victor David Hanson once again makes a point that, particularly in this political environment reflexively opposed to all things Bush, can't be made often enough:

Neoconservatism is slandered as messianic and dangerous in its advocacy of democratic reform. Are we then to revert to amoral realism that tolerated Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, or winked as the House of Saud funded madrassas that empowered global jihad? Or should we treat terrorism as a “criminal justice” matter? We did that serially in the 1990s, from the first World Trade Center bombing to the attack on the USS Cole — and earned 9/11 as the logical outcome of such appeasement.

This isn't just slamming the foreign policy of the Clinton administration. It's also slamming the foreign policy of the first Bush administration, and of the sainted Reagan administration before it--and rightly so in all cases, because they are in large part responsible for what confronts us in the Middle East today.

We created this mess. We created it long before W-The-Antichrist (TM) came into office. We have a responsibility to fix it--a responsibility not only to the security of our own country, but to the people of that region.

And a laissez-faire foreign policy--or a laissez-UN foreign policy, for that matter--is not going to get the job done.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Abortion ruminations

Charles Moore has a thought-provoking column in the Telegraph on how abortion is viewed and defended in this age, which he compares to slavery 200 years ago. He makes some fascinating points, but I am not as sure about the inevitability of abortion being rejected in the future as Moore is.

This is largely because he compares it to what he sees as the inevitability of slavery being rejected. What I think Moore fails to see is how radical the movement to end slavery really was, and how unprecedented its success. Slavery was about as close to a universal institution as you could get--present virtually everywhere, in virtually every time, since the dawn of recorded history.

There's something undeniably naive about believing, in the face of all the history behind it, that civilization's rejection of slavery was inevitable in any sense of the word.

Likewise with abortion. The technology necessary for surgical abortions was not developed until the late 18th century; however, chemical abortions and infanticide by exposure have both been a constant presence since before the time of Christ.

And unlike slavery, where its ban was preceded by restrictions, in the case of abortion the trend has been in the exact opposite direction--the practice has been granted, in increasing measure, the sanction and blessing of governments throughout the world.

Can it be done? Yes, I think it can. Moore has it right in that the pro-life movement's most powerful allies (outside of God, for the religiously inclined) are science and technology, which are not only making it possible for the unborn to survive outside of the womb at an ever earlier age but are also making it ever clearer just how human those "blobs of tissue" really are. These allies will grow still stronger in the future.

But it serves no one to make light of just how massive a challenge this really is. As was the case with slavery, the pro-life movement is squaring off against history itself, seeking a break with the past every bit as radical and unprecedented as abolition was.

The pro-life movement may well succeed, but that success is far from inevitable--and only a fool would wager on a timeframe.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reductio ad Ahmadinejad

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria makes an excellent point, then immediately forgets he ever made it:

When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn't have a nuclear button yet and won't for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)

Leaving aside quibbles about the reliability of the CIA's intelligence, the logical conclusion to draw from all this would be that the person you really need to worry about with regard to Iran is Khamenei, not Ahmadinejad.

Instead, though, Zakaria spends his column expounding on why Ahmadinejad is really not so bad, how Iran hasn't invaded anyone for over 200 years--which is SUCH a comfort when the actions we're worried about Iran taking don't involve invasion at all--and so forth.

I do agree that there's a tendency on the part of many to overemphasize the importance of Ahmadinejad in the overall picture.

Unfortunately, Zakaria took that valuable insight and ran with it...straight off a cliff.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Let's play "Count the Parallels"

David Brooks had a column in the New York Times yesterday touting Mike Huckabee as a potential Republican nominee.

The thing is--take away the names and the slightly different labels, and for much of the column, it sounds like Brooks is talking about George W. Bush, circa 2000.

"He talks about issues in a down-to-earth way ... a collaborative conservative ..." And so forth. I counted no fewer than six different Huckabee-Bush parallels, and I'm sure I missed a few.

The GOP nominating Bush 3.0 would, it seems to me, be the surest way to ensure that the next White House occupant is addressed "Madame President." Qualified or not, deserving or not, the similarities would guarantee Huckabee's obliteration in the general election.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Keeping your environmental issues straight?

Kind of a head-scratching passage in the Chicago Sun-Times' contribution to the endless parade of editorials serenading Nobel Environmentalism Peace Prize winner Al Gore:

Global warming is a problem that needs solving.

Carbon dioxide emissions are boring a hole in the Earth's atmosphere and are predicted to cause more extreme weather, harm crops, kill off animal species, invite disease and ignite wars.

Now, I know no one's really talked about it for a while, but this sounds more like a description of depletion of the ozone layer than it does of global warming--and I don't recall carbon dioxide emissions having anything to do with the ozone layer.

Of course, I could be wrong. After all, who am I to quarrel with an editorial board?


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

WHO's electable?

Maggie Gallagher takes aim at the idea that Rudy Giuliani can beat Hillary Clinton--or any other Democratic candidate, for that matter--in the general election:

The once-powerful Reagan coalition had three legs -- strong on defense, less government and social conservatism. But the war in Iraq is not the same as the war on communism. It's very unpopular, and Rudy has become as identified with this unpopular war as John McCain. Meanwhile, he has abandoned social conservatism. What's left of the Reagan coalition for Rudy to run on? Naked fiscal conservatism? Conservatives are deluding themselves if they think fiscal conservatism by itself is a winning political coalition. Do they not remember the party of Gerald Ford? It was very fiscally conservative, socially moderate, and a permanent minority party.

The halo of "America's Mayor" is already slipping. For months, polls showed Rudy Giuliani leading Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup, but by June of this year that lead had begun to evaporate. The latest poll, conducted in late September by ABC News and The Washington Post, shows Hillary Clinton beating Rudy Giuliani by eight points. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney trails Clinton in a head-to-head matchup in the latest Rasmussen poll by only nine points. One point better than Romney does not a convincing argument make for abandoning all principles.

To put it mildly.


GOP debate thoughts

Once again forgot to tape the debate (I work second shift, and couldn't watch it live) but managed to find it online. Not a whole lot to say, just a few things that jumped out at me:

-Chris Matthews did a decent job as a moderator, overall...but his asking the candidates whether they'd support the Republican nominee was idiotic, and I'd like to know how much Ron Paul paid him for all those softball questions (pun intended).

-Mitt Romney's showing signs of contracting FrontRunnerItis from Rudy Giuliani, going after Hillary Clinton on a number of occasions. I think that in Romney's case, there's a certain degree of desperation to it--he's trailing badly nationwide, and I believe his support in the early states is slipping, as well. It looks to me like he's trying to make people believe that he's a frontrunner without looking at whether he actually is, in hopes that his poll numbers will then follow suit.

-Not one candidate besides Paul gave a straight answer on whether the President needs Congressional approval for a military strike--read, Congressional refusal = no military action--which makes sense, since the right answer ("ABSOLUTELY NOT!") is political suicide, especially in the general election.

-Romney's rambling suggestion about consulting his attorneys might have been almost as bad, though.

-Scripted or not, Romney's "Law and Order" crack was the line of the debate.

-Fred Thompson did very well, I thought. He had good control of the material, and didn't seem out of his element. (He wasn't even tripped up by the cheap-shot pop quiz on Canada's prime minster.) Still too early to say whether he'll manage to overtake Giuliani, but this was an important milestone. He looked like he belonged up there, and there was some doubt about that.

-This debate was mostly about economics, and I can now safely say that I would feel comfortable entrusting this country's economy to any of the GOP frontrunners...which is more than I could have said for Romney or Giuliani before the debate.