Whither Bush?

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Although George W. Bush deserves warm praise for many initiatives he has undertaken since becoming America’s 43rd president, there are nevertheless a few areas that are cause for concern.

First, some positive developments.

On the campaign trail leading up to his election, W proposed a $1.2 trillion tax cut, while his opponents wanted nothing of it. However it now seems that W’s tax cut will be agreed to by both the House and the Senate, and probably will come in at $1.3 trillion. This is being presented as a defeat by some conservatives, for once in office, Bush campaigned for a $1.6 trillion cut, and now is being forced to take a smaller cut. All that notwithstanding, the cut will still be $1.3 trillion larger than it would have been under a Gore administration. In this area, Bush has shown that he can be pragmatic when push comes to shove.

On national missile defense, W is pushing forward to achieve a multilayered defense against incoming ballistic missiles, which Russia and China have at their disposal, and which other rogue states like Iraq, Libya and North Korea are developing. His choice of Donald H. Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense is already starting to bring results in his quest to defend the United States and its troops and allies from ballistic missile attacks.

Bush’s vision of government, as postulated in his Address to the Joint Session of Congress in late February, shows a keen understanding of the principle of subsidiarity. Paraphrasing Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, just as the roof on a house should be strong enough to not be blown away by the first storm, nor so heavy as to crush the walls, so too government should be protective and benevolent, or, as President Bush so aptly put it, “government should be active, but limited; engaged, but not overbearing.” His principled assertion that “if we work together, we can prove that public service is noble” helps to restore the notion of balance in our conception of the state as a necessary, and good, institution.

Also, his stated goal to reduce the rancor in Washington, to change the tone of public discourse, and to restore a sense of honor and dignity to the White House has not gone unnoticed or unheeded, where coats and ties for men and similar sartorial standards for women are de rigueur, and where the empty pizza boxes strewn all about during the previous administration are nowhere to be found.

While education reform was made the cornerstone of his administration, and promising “that no child will be left behind” by holding schools more accountable and focusing on results, unfortunately his early signals that vouchers (for students enrolled in public schools, which would enable them to transfer to another public or private school if their school received a failing grade two years in a row) were negotiable sent the wrong message to his opponents, and they seized upon it and capitalized on his faux pas. The result was that his voucher proposal died a quick death.

Regarding the elimination of the marriage penalty tax and the death tax, Bush deserves praise, for both taxes are key elements of socialism that harm the family and society as well. The death tax, that Marxist scheme of despoiling children of their parent’s wealth, is a blight on the right to private property and should be repealed. Time will tell if those advocating class warfare will be able to obstruct this most necessary legislation.

The marriage penalty tax discriminates against the traditional family, and encourages unmarried couples to cohabit. Achieving these two policy goals will help restore the family to its rightful place of honor, and deliver a welcome deathblow to Marxism here at home. The importance of eliminating these two sacred cows of the Revolution should not be underestimated.

Unfortunately, not all is well with President Bush’s social agenda.

Recently he appointed Scott Evertz, a homosexual activist, to head up the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. This appointment was made without any prior warning or notice to various pro-family organizations who have been helping the Administration achieve worthwhile objectives.

It is obviously a cause for concern when a person who has made statements favoring drug needle giveaways, and “reducing the stigma of homosexuality in the Black community,” is placed in such a high profile position. High-level positions such as the one held by Evertz have ramifications outside public pronouncements. What he will say and advocate in private is also a major source of concern. In the Evertz case, as he is a practicing homosexual living with his partner and his partner’s daughter, it is difficult to see how he will be able to be an effective advocate for Mr. Bush’s pro-traditional family positions, including opposition to the legalization of homosexual unions.

Another major area for concern is the appointment of a homosexual activist to screen civilian applicants at the Defense Department. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has hired Stephen E. Herbits “`as a consultant’ working ‘as a special assistant to the secretary'” (Human Events, 4/23/2001 p.4). A longtime homosexual activist, Herbits confirmed “he will be screening civilian applicants for top Pentagon positions”(Idem). His advocacy of the homosexual agenda, as reported in Human Events, is wide and long-standing. Look for the current “Don’t ask; don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military to fall.

Executed early on in his Administration, these two appointments seem to be part of Mr. Bush’s much vaunted “compassionate conservatism.” It’s bad enough now, and can get a whole lot worse. If Evertz and Herbits use their positions to advocate policies contrary to the official pro-family and traditional values stance of the Administration, the fallout could well undermine the president’s agenda, and lead to the loss of the critical support of conservatives. Time will tell.

An area of lively interest has been the way the new administration has courted the conservative movement. Contrary to what many thought would be the Bush hallmark – a moderate, centrist to slightly left-leaning administration — Bush’s policy team and the public relations arm of the White House have gone all out to solicit the ideas and opinions of those they had pretty much ignored during the presidential campaign, namely the religious conservatives without whom the Republican ticket could not ascend to power. Although left-leaning environmentalists have found favor of late with the White House, conservatives moving forward on ballistic missile defense, pro-family initiatives (with the obvious exception of the Evertz appointment), judicial nominations, pro-life initiatives opposing embryonic stem cell research, and restoring civility to public discourse have often found a willing ear among administration officials.

The courtship has proven fruitful to the pro-family, pro-traditional values, pro-defense and limited government coalition, of which Tradition, Family and Property takes part. However, the Evertz and Herbits appointments, as well as the softness being evidenced recently regarding onerous environmental regulations, have strained otherwise good relations between conservatives and the White House. What is certain is that the Bush administration will ignore or aggrieve at its peril those people and organizations who helped create the conditions in society for its election victory.

History can be a cruel taskmaster, and reversing the general leftward trend in the culture evidenced during the Reagan and prior Bush administration will prove a daunting task. In the 12 years prior to the Clinton administration, conservatives held the White House and pretty much Congress as well. However, the Cultural Revolution advanced greatly, abortion politically almost became a non-issue, and homosexual politics came to the forefront. Today we see a generally conservative administration going soft on the appointment of homosexuals to sensitive, high-level policy positions.

The evident danger in the softening up of the culture is that it will continue to get worse and worse, as the barriers of horror that have existed opposing homosexuality fall, until we may see the day where penning commentaries such as this one will not only be politically incorrect, but criminal.

On the other side of the coin, however, one may look hopefully to a change in the culture for the better that will be more enduring than during the Reagan years. As more and more families home school their children or start their own schools, as abstinence courses gain favor and as virginity regains its rightful place of honor in society, as blasphemous exhibits are protested with ever greater efficacy, as good manners and kindness return to everyday life, and as pro-life and pro-family people continue to raise large families where the Ten Commandments are taught and respected and loved, we may yet see the creation of the conditions leading to a regeneration of society.

The ideological and spiritual battle lines have been drawn. Let us go forward and raise high the standard of Christian civilization.

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