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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Robert L. Bartley, RIP

Editor emeritus at the Wall Street Journal, Bartley died today:

.... Earlier this month, President Bush awarded Bartley the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. "A champion of free markets, individual liberty and the values necessary for a free society, his writings have been characterized by profound insights, passionate convictions and an unyielding optimism in America," the citation read.
Over his career, he also won a Gerald Loeb Award and a Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club of America. He was the author of a book on Reagan administration economic policy, "The Seven Fat Years: And How to Do It Again," published in 1992. He was awarded honorary degrees from Macalester College, Babson College and Adelphi University.
Bartley is survived by his wife, Edith, who was his high school girlfriend — his only one, according to his brother Dale — and by their three daughters.

The Blog from the Core has quoted Bartley four times this year:

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/10/03 07:40:58 PM
Categorized as Other.


Howard Dean: The Mysterious Stranger

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XXXV

And an epiphany, of sorts, at The Blog from the Core.

David "Token" Brooks writes about Howie Dean at NYT, yesterday.

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My moment of illumination about Howard Dean came one day in Iowa when I saw him lean into a crowd and begin a sentence with, "Us rural people. . . ."

Dean grew up on Park Avenue and in East Hampton. If he's a rural person, I'm the Queen of Sheba. Yet he said it with conviction. He said it uninhibited by any fear that someone might laugh at or contradict him.

It was then that I saw how Dean had liberated himself from his past, liberated himself from his record and liberated himself from the restraints that bind conventional politicians. He has freed himself to say anything, to be anybody.

Other candidates run on their biographies or their records. They keep policy staff from their former lives, and they try to keep their policy positions reasonably consistent.

But Dean runs less on biography than any other candidate in recent years. When he began running for president, he left his past behind, along with the encumbrances that go with it. As governor of Vermont, he was a centrist Democrat. But the new Dean who appeared on the campaign trail ó a jarring sight for the Vermonters who knew his previous self ó is an angry maverick.

The old Dean was a free trader. The new Dean is not. The old Dean was open to Medicare reform. The new Dean says Medicare is off the table. The old Dean courted the N.R.A.; the new Dean has swung in favor of gun control. The old Dean was a pro-business fiscal moderate; the new Dean, sounding like Ralph Nader, declares, "We've allowed our lives to become slaves to the bottom line of multinational corporations all over the world."

The philosopher George Santayana once observed that Americans don't bother to refute ideas ó they just leave them behind. Dean shed his upper-crust WASP self, then his centrist governor self, bursting onto the national scene as a mysterious stranger who comes out of nowhere to battle corruption.

The newly liberated Dean is uninhibited. A normal person with no defense policy experience would not have the chutzpah to say, "Mr. President, if you'll pardon me, I'll teach you a little about defense." But Dean says it. A normal person, with an eye to past or future relationships, wouldn't compare Congress to "a bunch of cockroaches." Dean did it.

The newly liberated Dean doesn't worry about having a coherent political philosophy. There is a parlor game among Washington pundits called How Liberal Is Howard Dean? One group pores over his speeches, picks out the things no liberal could say and argues that he's actually a centrist. Another group picks out the things no centrist could say and argues that he's quite liberal.

But the liberated Dean is beyond categories like liberal and centrist because he is beyond coherence. He'll make a string of outspoken comments over a period of weeks ó on "re-regulating" the economy or gay marriage ó but none of them have any relation to the others. When you actually try to pin him down on a policy, you often find there is nothing there.

For example, asked how we should proceed in Iraq, he says hawkishly, "We can't pull out responsibly." Then on another occasion he says dovishly, "Our troops need to come home," and explains, fantastically, that we need to recruit 110,000 foreign troops to take the place of our reserves. Then he says we should not be spending billions more dollars there. Then he says again that we have to stay and finish the job.

At each moment, he appears outspoken, blunt and honest. But over time he is incoherent and contradictory.

He is, in short, a man unrooted. This gives him an amazing freshness and an exhilarating freedom.

Everybody talks about how the Internet has been key to his fund-raising and organization. Nobody talks about how it has shaped his persona. On the Internet, the long term doesn't matter, as long as you are blunt and forceful at that moment. On the Internet, a new persona is just a click away. On the Internet, everyone is loosely tethered, careless and free. Dean is the Internet man, a string of exhilarating moments and daring accusations.

The only problem is that us rural folk distrust people who reinvent themselves. Many of us rural folk are nervous about putting the power of the presidency in the hands of a man who could be anyone.

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Take a look at this one paragraph again:

.... Dean had liberated himself from his past, liberated himself from his record and liberated himself from the restraints that bind conventional politicians. He has freed himself to say anything, to be anybody....

Whoa. Replace "Dean" with "Gore" and that paragraph remains true, no? The patrician who tried to run a leftist-populist campaign in 2000; the tobacco-farmer who portrayed himself an enemy of the tobacco industry; who tried to completely re-write his own father's participation in blocking civil rights advances in the 1960s; who (to my abiding disgust) tried to look — literally look — like Ronald Reagan in his first debate with George W. Bush.

All at once — a moment of illumination of my own, one might say — I see why Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean: they're twin chameleons separated at birth.

Oh, there I go again....... :-)

P.S. See also JunkYardBlog:

.... I must say that though I'm no fan of Lieberman, Gore really did shaft him yesterday. But why is Lieberman so shocked that Gore has gone lefty? Gore ran in 2000 as a left-wing populist. Gore wrote a book that has become a lefty-greenie bible — Earth in the Balance — back in the 80s. Gore is a lefty — his DLC years were a calculated pose to increase his stature in the party. Now that the party is lurching back to the left with Dean, Gore is just coming back out of the closet. He's always been a Naderite in drag.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/10/03 05:41:26 PM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Political.


Democratic Campaign Slogans

My friend Paul writes.

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I think I know why none of these Democratic presidential candidates have caught on: it's the guys who write their campaign slogans. They're not nearly creative enough... or truthful, either.

Since I've got a few minutes to spare, maybe I can help them out. Try these:

  • John Edwards: "Endorsed by Paul Mitchell and Vidal Sassoon"
  • Al Sharpton: "Live, from Washington, it's PRESIDENT AL!!!"
  • Dennis Kucinich: "I'll have the troops home from Iraq in 90 days!!! (and the Baath party back in power in 90 more)"
  • Carol Mosley Braun: "You can count on me to ask for directions"
  • John Kerry: "A president that you can swear by"
  • Howard Dean: "The only Democratic candidate fully endorsed by a former Presidential election loser"
  • Joe Lieberman: "At least I wasn't endorsed by a back-stabbing, former Presidential election loser"
  • Wesley Clark: "Vowing to serve the American people as much as Hillary will allow me to"
  • Dick Gephardt: "Vote for me, and I'll promise not to tell any more homey stories about growing up in Missouri"

No need for them to thank me.

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P.S. In a similar vein.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/10/03 07:30:16 AM
Categorized as Political.


Democrats on "Gay" "Marriage": Damned If They Do; Damned If They Don't

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XXXIV

A report in the Boston Globe, Dec. 4.

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DNC wary of gay marriage issue
Stance sought to limit impact on convention
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff, 12/4/2003

National Democrats planning to launch their presidential nominee from the home state of the historic gay marriage decision either want to recast the issue as one of basic civil rights or to ignore gay marriage entirely during next summer's convention.

In interviews this week, top Democrats were struggling with how to handle the gay marriage decision at next year's convention, with the party's chairman saying he would like to avoid what he called "wedge issues" and to remain focused on the Democrats' traditional message of the economy, jobs, and health care.

"This convention will not be about those issues. It's not going to happen," Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe told the Globe yesterday. "George Bush wants us to talk about those other issues, because he can't talk about jobs, he can't talk about health care, he can't talk about education. This election is not going to be about these wedge issues that the Republicans and George Bush want us to talk about."

That approach is far from certain, however, as some Democrats, including Convention chairman Bill Richardson, said the party should recast the gay marriage debate as one of basic civil rights, to draw a sharp contrast with Republicans. Some Republicans are seeking to amend the US Constitution to explicitly outlaw gay marriage nation-wide, though President Bush hasn't committed to the effort.

"The Republicans are lockstep, hard-line right on every issue, but we're diverse on our points of view on issues, and we believe in civil rights," said Richardson, the governor of New Mexico. "That issue's not going to be a problem for us."

The gay marriage issue was thrust upon Democrats in their convention city last month, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that gay couples have a right under the state constitution to marry. The decision opened the door to gay marriages in Massachusetts within six months, well before Democrats descend on Boston for next July's convention.

The court's decision exposed a rift within the Democratic Party over the issue of gay marriage. While gay-rights groups and some liberal Democrats celebrated the decision, Richardson and the front-running Democratic presidential contenders oppose gay marriage. Instead, they have voiced support for civil unions to give same-sex couples many of the same rights and benefits that are available through marriage.

The court decision from the state that is hosting the convention could make it easier for Republicans to paint the eventual nominee as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal. As the home of US Senator Edward M. Kennedy and former governor Michael S. Dukakis, that was going to be an issue anyway; shortly after Boston won the convention last year, retiring House Republican leader Dick Armey quipped, "If I were a Democrat, I suspect I would feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, in America."

The gay marriage decision will only put a finer point on the Bay State's liberal leanings, said Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College. Given that, Wolfe said, Democrats are smart to reshape the issue in a way that suits them.

Before, during, and after the convention, the nominee should avoid trying to make a distinction between gay marriage and civil unions and instead focus on rights and benefits gay couples can enjoy through either institution, he said.

"If it's going to be an issue — and the Republicans will make it one — a defensive reaction is not going to be effective," Wolfe said. "The best hope for the Democrats is to be quite aggressive about it and say this is about rights and about not discriminating against people."

But Republicans are warning that strategies to refashion or avoid the issue of gay marriage won't make them go away. Gary Bauer, a GOP presidential candidate in 2000, said the convention in Boston will highlight an issue on which the opposition to gay marriage stance by most Republicans is both clearer cut and closer to the mainstream than the Democrats' position.

Having the convention in a Democrat-controlled state where gay marriage is a reality will help make the issue "a very convenient marker for the cultural differences between the two parties," Bauer said.

"For most Americans, it will come down to a simple question of what is marriage," said Bauer, who now serves as president of the conservative group American Values. "It's going to take more than some glib verbal maneuvering."

Ron Kaufman, a Massachusetts member of the Republican National Committee, said attempts to gloss over the gay marriage issue will be foiled by extreme groups on both the right and the left. The convention in Boston, he said, would force Democrats to confront the marriage question, not just gay rights.

"It's going to push the party to the left on an issue that the middle feels strongly about," Kaufman predicted. "Most Americans do believe in the tradition of marriage, and that's where the great middle really is."

For now, gay leaders say they don't see the need to push the party further in the direction of gay marriage. "We have won civil marriage rights in this state, and we have no plans in Massachusetts to have a party fight over this," said Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus.

At the 2000 convention, Democrats adopted a party platform that suggested support for civil unions without explicitly calling for it, saying that gays and lesbians should have "an equitable alignment of benefits." While the language for next year's convention is far from being determined, Richardson said he would push to see it resolved well in advance of the convention.

Melvin "Butch" Hollowell, chairman of the Democratic Party in the presidential battleground state of Michigan, said Democrats should use to their advantage the fact that there's "near unanimity" within their party for extending rights to gays and lesbians. The party should emphasize their belief in civil rights for all, he said.

"We are the party of tolerance, and we are proud of that," Hollowell said. "While others will try to use this as a wedge issue, as a party philosophically I don't think we should fall for that trap."

Mayor Thomas M. Menino predicted that after the initial flurry of interest in gay marriage, the issue will recede into the background.

"People right now are very frustrated," Menino said. "The message has to be economic security, how we're going to make sure we have a secure future, educationally and jobwise."

Rick Klein can be reached at

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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The Blog from the Core asserts Fair Use for non-commercial, non-profit educational purposes.

See Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode VI.

(Thanks, Peter.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/10/03 06:50:47 AM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Political.


"Bring Back Hate"

A bracing article by Mark Gavreau Judge in the New York Press, Sep. 10:

.... Itís time to bring back hate. To be sure, as a Christian it is important that I try to separate my hate for evil from the person pushing evil, whether itís a morally kneecapped woman screaming for abortion, a rapist or a thief. Hate the sin and love the sinner and all that. But increasingly in our culture, the rule is, psychoanalyze the sinner and explain away the sin through socioeconomics Ė either that or it spills vats of hate on silly targets, like the president. We are in desperate need of the real thing, saved for an appropriate target.
Conservatives have made good careers of exposing the lack of hate in certain quarters of the country Ė or rather, the misuse of hate. Leftists put up websites comparing George Bush to Hitler and call his administration "the most dangerous in the history of America" (Pacifica host Ambrose Lane). Far-right activists also indulged in this kind of thing with Clinton, but were often rebuked by their own brethren (Iím reminded of a pan of a conspiracy book about Vince Foster that I recall seeing in the Weekly Standard).
Unlike conservatives, liberals canít abide the idea that some acts are in and of themselves intrinsically evil, in every situation, and must be met with pure hate. The murder of Matthew Shepard produced well-deserved keening and hate-fueled rage at the pure unambiguous evil of it. Yet when a Catholic social worker was murdered for questioning the homosexuality of a man, there was a grim, evasive silence in the media. This isnít simply a game about bias or lack of emphasis. Itís cowardice....

(Thanks, Domenico.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/10/03 06:38:17 AM
Categorized as Religious.


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