CONSERVATIVES AND ROE
Re: Jeffrey Lord’s Dr. Dobson and Justice Bork:
Dear Mr. Lord:
I read with great interest your recent American Spectator article, “Dr. Dobson and Justice Bork,” in which you blame conservatives for the U.S. Senate’s 1987 failure to confirm President Reagan’s nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and the subsequent survival of Roe v. Wade. You use that incident to support your recommendation that conservatives settle for the “half-loaf” of pro-abortion Republican candidates as a path to overturning the 1973 decision.
I don’t see any evidence supporting your conclusion that Roe v. Wade is “the conservative legacy” at which “the late Justice Harry Blackmun must be smiling.” I find in your article only anecdotes, relying on a few 20-year-old conversations with anonymous conservatives, and some vague unhappiness with some Republican senators from unidentified sources to support your article’s far-reaching conclusion. This is very thin gruel on which to blame conservatives and by implication the conservative movement for the Republican loss of the Senate in the 1986 elections.
It seems to me that a more robust analysis of the historical record points to the conclusion that it was moderate/liberal Republicans, not conservatives, who caused the GOP to lose the Senate in the 1986 elections, which you infer led inevitably to the Bork defeat and the survival of Roe.
There was no Reagan Senate during 1981-86. There was a Republican Senate, and President Reagan’s conservative agenda was weakened by the big-government proponents in his own party. Many of these establishment Republicans went down to defeat because they did not advance the Reagan agenda.
In your own writings you acknowledge how Abraham Lincoln and Reagan were viewed in their times as “extremists” who “looked at the center and saw the need to move it.” Lincoln, of course, helped move the country on the issue of slavery, and Reagan on communism.
Dr. James Dobson, whose appeal to “moral principle” you criticize, would surely have been on the morally principled — and ultimately victorious — side on the issue of slavery, as he is on abortion today.
Establishment Republicans, who have squandered the election victories won by millions of conservative activists, are now laying the groundwork to blame Dr. Dobson and those many conservative activists for 2008’s expected thumpin’. That’s a typical and tired Establishment ploy. It won’t work.
Republican strategists who lay anticipatory blame for potential political losses at the feet of moral, principled conservatives ignore what Lincoln, Reagan and their supporters did, which even now, using your own words, “is universally viewed as the bedrock of the American political center.”
The Republican Party historically loses elections when it turns its back on its conservative base. Don’t try to blame Dr. Dobson and the millions of conservatives for insisting that the Republican Party stick to principles when it has been the party leaders who have wandered, and not just on abortion, but on government spending and many other so-called “Republican brand” issues.
— Richard A. Viguerie
author of Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause (Bonus Books, 2006)
Jeffrey Lord replies:
Thanks to Richard Viguerie for his forthright response on my recent article “Dr. Dobson and Justice Bork.”
To begin, so that there is no mistake, I am recommending no candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, much preferring that the process and conservative primary and caucus voters work their will. The focus here is about principle in politics, not about picking personalities. And I certainly agree that there was no “Reagan Senate” between 1981-1986 but rather, just as Mr. Viguerie says, a “Republican Senate.” Yet even Mr. Viguerie admits that “many of these Establishment Republicans went down to defeat because they did not advance the Reagan agenda.” That, of course, is precisely my point. But while some of these candidates did not support all of the Reagan agenda, they did support pieces of it, and their mere physical presence in majority numbers guaranteed that the Reagan agenda did, in many critical respects, get a hearing and a vote as provided by the Senate leadership machinery.
Under no circumstances am I critical of Dr. Dobson (or others) for appealing to “moral principle.” Bravos all around. I am certainly on board with the Viguerie assertion that Establishment Republicans have squandered victories won by conservatives. And yes, I have not the slightest doubt that if there is a GOP “thumpin'” in 2008, Establishment types will be out there blaming Dr. Dobson for the loss just as they blamed Goldwater or Reagan in 1964. But this isn’t 1964, it’s post-Reagan 2007 and there is a considerable conservative army that simply learned decades ago how utterly eternal and bogus the allegation will always be. The plea to be Hillary-lite will be dismissed (just as was the idea that we could be Lyndon-lite or Jimmy-lite). As a matter of fact I cited an original version of this (in the 2006 December issue of The American Spectator) that popped up in paperback book form barely a month after the Goldwater defeat. It’s a very old dog, it will be set loose yet again if there is a 2008 loss, and it will never hunt.
Mr. Viguerie and I do seem to disagree, or perhaps the better phrase is talk past one another, on one point. I do not blame conservatives for losing elections because they take conservative positions. To the contrary. Given a choice between a real liberal and a liberal-lite, voters will take the real thing every time. Never would I advocate that conservatives seek to be the un-conservative. It’s bad politics and, as we have found all too often, dreadful governance as Goldwater so aptly pointed out with the phrase “dime store New Deal.” I do blame conservatives for walking into a general election voting booth long after the primary choices have been settled, knowing something as important as Roe v. Wade is at stake, having a full understanding of how the Constitution has set up the legislative, executive and judicial machinery and deliberately taking a pass because the GOP candidate is imperfect.
The genius of the Constitution, and it is admittedly a politically frustrating fact, is that it is specifically designed to keep any one group from completely running the show. History shows very clearly that even FDR and LBJ had problems with members of their own party in the Congress, each man given only a brief window in time to get his way. Knowing this to be the case, the idea that control of the White House or the Senate or the House should be pitched overboard at a critical moment because the winner will not be a Reagan-clone or a 100% collection of Reagan clones seems to me a willful acceptance of the other side’s agenda. Something I am not prepared to do. This is particularly so when the issue at hand is appointments to the Supreme Court and the federal bench. Willfully electing someone (Hillary) who is sworn to cement this case into law forever because we just don’t like her opponent’s stance on something else — while the same opposition candidate is openly committing to appoint constitutionalists in the mold of Scalia and Thomas etc. — seems to me to be, as I feel was amply demonstrated in 1986, a less than full commitment to overturning Roe.
If that is “pragmatism,” it is in the service of conservative principle. This, as I recall, is something that even Mr. Viguerie agreed to in early 1980, supporting Illinois Congressman Phil Crane over then former Governor Reagan because Reagan was perceived by some as too old.
Thanks again to Mr. Viguerie for the debate. And while I haven’t had a chance yet to read it, he doubtless makes his case in detail in his new book Conservatives Betrayed. I’ll be picking it up.
— Jeffrey Lord
Re: Mark Tooley’s Abandonment Chic:
This guy Seiple is truly an incompetent theologian. Quoting a scripture, or at the very best mangling one, he repeats, “…love my neighbor, including those that don’t look like me, vote like me or share my faith.”
Now I’ve reread my Bible and didn’t see any passage mentioning looking or voting anywhere, and I’m including footnotes, addendums, forward and epilogue. It does say that I am to love my neighbor as myself. However, that begs the question, “what if I hate myself?” Am I to hate my neighbor, too? So I checked into the original Hebrew Testament and, lo and behold! I found the exact passage about loving my neighbor and the very same question posed about self-hatred, too! And all the Jewish commentaries had exactly the same answer. Love means respect. Even those that hate themselves want respect, even if that respect is unrequited. As these commentaries and explanation predate Jesus by some thousand years, and Jesus being well aware of these explanations, I trust this to be the correct explanation.
Respect includes a component of morality. No one truly respects an immoral position or act, whether performed by the public at large or by oneself in private. Morality is a fixed virtue for all time and all people, even those who do not follow Judeo-Christian precepts. That is the essence of the Bible: an inviolate moral code for all time established in the face of pagan religious immorality and licentiousness. Therein lies the immorality of today’s multiculturalism and political correctness. Not all cultures and religions are equal or moral. Morality is for all peoples to accept, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Manitou aside. It isn’t easy and certainly many refuse its mantle. Life without standards means anything and everything is ultimately judged to be OK. Right is right and wrong is right, too. But, for some self-proclaimed Evangelical minister to invoke a moral equivalency stance is both immoral and contrary to basic Judeo-Christian theology. Loving thy neighbor without a moral component will lead to loving thy neighbor, his wife and kids. Literally.
To deny God’s promised inheritance of the entire Holy Land to the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob negates biblical and Christian teachings. It is immoral. One could even claim such a stance to be utterly pagan and anti-God. It is certainly not Evangelical.
— Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
“Seiple described Muslims he meets as hostile to America because they assume all Americans are evangelical and therefore ‘political, strident, unforgiving.’ One Muslim friend told him: ‘You Americans have the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other.'”
ROTFLOL. Pot, meet the kettle.
— Andrew Macfadyen, M.D.
Was curious if Rachel Corrie’s family isn’t on Chris Seiple’s Christmas card list. What a pathetic bunch.
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski’s Washington’s Prince:
Mr. Novak can truly be named the Gold Standard for Washington journalism. To have access to that many power brokers is beyond comprehension. One can only imagine the sources he had throughout the years who were not mentioned in the book.
As for Ms. Plame, the short synopsis of that sorry episode is she was “outed” in 1998 by Mr. Ames. That is why she had not been “undercover” for the five year period prior to Mr. Armitage opening his mouth. Mr. Fitzgerald certainly did our nation no favors.
— Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
AN ODE TO ACCOMPLISHED MEN
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell’s The Merry Sage of Broadcasting Excellence:
Just yesterday I heard someone say
George Clooney’s Earth’s sexiest man.
But try as I may, I don’t see it that way.
His achievements simply don’t scan.
What makes a man appeal to women?
Just good looks don’t tell it all.
Accomplishment and grit we can’t resist.
These men in our eyes stand tall.
A Navy Seal, quintessentially American,
The days of his young life numbered,
Lt. Michael Murphy knew who he was,
A patriot by hate unencumbered.
A firefighter saving a threatened life,
A surgeon performing a wonder,
Andrea Bocelli’s voice rocking the floor,
Rend some inflated egos asunder.
Peyton Manning’s grin. His Super Bowl win.
The grace of a Tiger Wood’s swing.
These are the guys who compete for that prize,
The winners that make our hearts sing.
In the music of minds there is no one croonier
Than that maestro of words, William F. Buckley, Jr.
As for wit, you would have very far to go
To catch up with R. Emmett Tyrrell and El Rushbo.
Everyday heroes usually outshine
The brittle twigs on the Hollywood vine.
— Mimi Evans Winship
“FOR THE CHILDREN”
Re: Jeff Emanuel’s The SCHIP Wars:
The Democrats come up with all the “poor” children in commercials talking about if this does not pass kids will be without insurance. That is BS, the kids in the commercials have gotten the care they needed under the SCHIPs plan as it now stands. The Dems are just trying for a Hillary type health plan. This time I am on the President’s side. He is right to veto this bill.
Someone that is over 18 is NOT a kid and $80,000 is NOT poor. The states that allow this should have to stop and give nothing to ILLEGALs.
— Elaine Kyle
SPEAKING OF THE ENGLISH
Re: Judd Magilnick’s Celebrate Victory on Crispin’s Day, the letters under “English Speaking Easy” in Reader Mail’s Huckabee for President Responds, and James Murray’s letter (under “English for Starters”) in Reader Mail’s Banking on Rush:
I refer to the article by Judd Magilnick “Celebrating St. Crispin’s Day.”
One of your correspondents quite rightly points out that it was not a “British” army that defeated the French at Agincourt. However, the reason the French were defeated not only at Agincourt, but also Crecy, and Poitiers in previous encounters with the French was the presence of Welsh Longbow Archers who devastated the French nobility on each occasion. Also the French had apparently not learned anything from past battles with the “English”!
May I also disagree with the comments of some of other correspondents who claim that Henry V was illegally King. He was another Welshman whose ancestor had seized the throne by battle. That was the way things were done in those days. To talk of legalities is pointless. The English Crown inherited large tracts of land in what we now call France which was the contribution of William of Normandy when he invaded the British Isles in 1066. Dispute over these possessions were the cause of most of the wars between France (who had taken possession of them) and the English Crown.
The other matter wish I would like to comment on was the suggestion that Henry ordered the cutting of throats of prisoners. The French had before the battle ended already attacked the “English” camp and murdered the camp followers including many young boys. However it was common practice in those days to give a coup de grace to wounded enemy on the field as this would save them further pain and medical attention was almost nil at that time.
Apart from the above, I agree with the Author that a celebration of St. Crispin’s Day could be a rallying point for English speaking Western countries to stop denigrating their own culture and history and stop being so damn wimpish…
— David Hughes-Jones
ARMED AND DEFENDED
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s An Unsettling State:
The missing item in this story, and the VITAL link, is that Ms. Sjokin should most certainly have been armed and able to defend herself. It is not possible for the “state” to protect us, and most certainly is not a good thing when it tries — let alone when it seems to succeed.
The glaring hole left by your failure to even mention the need for self-defense — self responsibility — actually begs the whole point of the article. What a shame.
— Susan Callaway
Editor, The Price of Liberty
Jay D. Homnick replies:
Well, yes, she could defend herself with a gun, providing
a) she was not overpowered from behind without warning;
b) the gun was handy within the response time available;
c) she could get it into firing position to get off a good shot.
If not, the gun is either useless or indeed a liability if the attacker can confiscate it and have a weapon more powerful than whatever he brought.
To say the state has no role in defending us with police forces, or by incarcerating violent criminals, is overwrought if not irrational. However, there are certainly gaps in potential government security that self-defense can shrink but not entirely close. The last piece is God’s.
LET’S FACE FACTS
Re: Rick Arand’s letter (under “Irreconcilable Differences?”) in Reader Mail’s Dishwasher Gate:
The social and fiscal conservatives HAVE made progress — can you not see? Did you not read this article? Whatever you think of the standard bearers of the Republican Party, do you REALLY want those humbug hillbillies from Hope back in the White House with the Madwoman from San Francisco as Speaker to continue her reign of terror in the house? I suspect she would be much more successful with Queen Hillary in power.
Those who want to throw out the baby with the bath water are silly at least, and dangerous at best. If you want someone better, why don’t you or Dobson run? It takes a lot of time and money and of course most Christians do not want to soil themselves. Look at how John Ashcroft was demonized by the press. You may continue to believe the good is the enemy of the perfect, but I do NOT want to be seeing those two shysters back again.
— Janis Johnson
Re: Paul Nelson’s’ letter (under “Here’s Really Why”) in Reader Mail’s Dishwasher Gate:
I believe that the Other Paul completely missed the point of my letter: that each of the people in question, including Benazir Bhutto, was at least attempting to make their respective nations a better place to live. I said nothing about how well they succeeded; I only maintained that they shouldn’t be mocked for trying.
— Paul LaRue
P.S. As for Corazon Aquino having done “nothing,” are you maintaining that the Philippines would have been better off under the Marcos regime? You know, the one with the rigged “elections” and the assassination of political opponents?
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