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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Bush's lethargy

That's the phrase that comes to mind. It's getting harder not to view President Bush as stuck in first gear when he should be cruising decisively at full throttle. For instance, lately W's defense of the Iraqi mission has seemed decidedly lukewarm. His campaign for his Social Security plan has struck me as half-hearted. And if I were John Bolton, I might be wondering when to expect the president to make a strong public declaration of support. In light of these and other signs of early second-term listlessness, I find myself asking whether a huge part of George W. Bush's inner drive to get re-elected may have been based on a two-fold desire on his part to
  • prove to his critics that he was not an "accidental president" whose failure to win the popular vote in 2000 made his tenure illegitimate; and
  • avoid his father's fate of being a one-term president who could have won re-election if he'd fought a stronger re-election campaign.
If the answer is yes to both, it would make sense that the president may believe, if only unconsciously, that his biggest achievements are already in the bag. I hasten to add: these are speculations. I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't play one on TV or in the Blogosphere. It's not that the president seems "depressed." Actually, his countenance seems strong when he appears in public. Still, it does seem that the wind has gone out of W's sails in recent weeks. His inner firepower seems somehow diminished. Could it be that without an heir apparent (Cheney is as lame a duck as his boss), Bush's lame duck status has kicked in earlier than most second term presidents? Or maybe White House polling is showing that the country is tired of excessive partisanship, in which case I can see the wisdom of the chief executive not turning up the rhetorical volume, especially after the filibuster acrimony. It will be interesting to see whether W can "amp up" his passion when he speaks to the country this coming Tuesday to reaffirm the importance of victory in Iraq. I'll withdraw my speculations if Bush has the guts to send Bolton to the UN via recess appointment; if he keeps fighting for his appellate judge choices; and if he makes daring (rather than cautious or "safe") Supreme Court nominations when he gets the chance. Even if he does all of that, I've got a hunch that the policy folks at the White House must have at least one more big proposal ready to launch. Something seminal and historic, like a decisive revisioning of the tax code toward a flat tax paradigm (or other similar approach based on the premise that taxes should be based on consumption).

Madness in Philadelphia

Check out my latest, at MoonbatCentral, on the new plan by the Philadelphia public schools to further divide America along racial lines.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Karl Rove should "apologize," just like Dick Durbin

Rumor has it that Durbin "apologized." Here's what the Illinois senator actually said: "I sincerely regret if what I said causes anybody to misunderstand my true feelings... I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust..." In the same vein, here's what Karl Rove should say: "I'm sorry if the true things I said about the left's well-documented response to 9-11 ruffled anyone."

Judicial activism: wrong and right

"Liberalism triumphed yesterday. Government became radically unlimited in seizing the very kinds of private property that should guarantee individuals a sphere of autonomy against government. Conservatives should be reminded to be careful what they wish for. Their often-reflexive rhetoric praises "judicial restraint" and deference to — it sometimes seems — almost unleashable powers of the elected branches of governments. However, in the debate about the proper role of the judiciary in American democracy, conservatives who dogmatically preach a populist creed of deference to majoritarianism will thereby abandon, or at least radically restrict, the judiciary's indispensable role in limiting government." — George F. Will, today. Right on, GFW. Let's be very clear about what happened yesterday. By the familiar 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court decided in Kelo et al. v. City of New London that American citizens own property at the whim of the government. Local governments can force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, even if the property is not blighted. Conservatives who reflexively condemn "judicial activism" should understand that there are different kinds of activist courts, with different kinds of aims. If America is a still a constitutional republic, then there's got to be a place for the sort of judicial activism that not only acts in behalf of individual property rights as fundamental, but also acts to undo decisions that effectively negate those rights. Yesterday's property rights nightmare would be a good place to start, when the similar issue makes it to a future (and hopefully more constitutionally grounded) Supreme Court. Janice Rogers Brown got criticized by the left for not being part of "the mainstream," but let's be clear about definitions. Brown is not part of the mainstream established by the cultural left's social and cultural agenda, but neither would James Madison be if he were alive today. If Brown chooses to become a judicial activist in behalf of seeking to restore constitutional legitimacy, more power to her. What I am saying — what I am advocating — is that justices who believe the Constitution means what it plainly says, are more than justified in overturning precedent when it means restoring constitutionally based, limited governance. Even if doing so bears passing resemblance to "legislating from the bench." Even if so doing puts them outside today's "mainstream." Madison's mainstream is the one to aim for.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Village life

Well, I'm in a remote northern California fishing village with spotty internet access. So this may be my only report until Wednesday. Cheers to all...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Malkin on Schiavo

The intrepid Michelle Malkin reports on having actually read the 39-page autopsy report: "You do not need a medical examiner's license to see that the report raises many more questions than it answers, though from the (once again) misleading media coverage, we are led to believe that the matters of Terri's life and murder are resolved. They are not." Contrary to the euthenasia movement's spin machine, Terri didn't suffer a heart attack, nor were there signs of bulemia; yet the MSM continues to describe the medical examiner's findings as a vindication for the decision to cause Schiavo's death. Malkin nails it:
Terri Schiavo, a profoundly disabled woman who was not terminally ill and who had an army of family members ready to care for her for the rest of her natural life, succumbed to forced dehydration at the hands of her spouse-in-name-only. This is something to gloat about?
One thing had bugged me for a while. Terri Schiavo wasn't "dying." So what was she doing in a hospice in the first place? Hospice patients are supposed to emerge under a sheet, wheeled out on a gurney. Terri Schiavo was put there to die. The medical examiner determined that her heart was strong. That wasn't part of Michael Schiavo's script. Michael was ready to "move on." Terri Schiavo wasn't. We know how the story ended.

Durbin Digs In

"No matter how he attempts to spin, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin keeps making things worse for himself..." That's the lead sentence of my comments at MoonbatCentral about Durbin's shameful exercise in moral equivalence: comparing Guantanamo (not one death, but chicken l'orange and lemon cake, and exercise yards) with Hitler's death camps. "Moonbat"? The term "moonbat" is blogger jargon for an ideological extremist. (The Samizdata.net blog glossary defines a "moonbat" — or, more properly, a "barking moonbat" — as, “Someone on the extreme edge of whatever their -ism happens to be.”)