May 18, 2001

Burning Bush: good idea?

Jenna Bush's recent guilty plea of possession of alcohol by a minor is neither particularly shocking nor of political interest to Democrats. When the opposing party's leader is constantly talking about changing the tone of political discourse, the last thing you want to do is to start slinging mud. Plus, the Democrats tend to take the moral high ground with respect to relatives of Republican fat cats anyway. What JB's little mishap does remind us is that the moral conservatism of the Republican Party has got to go if they expect to hang onto their majorities in Congress.

If Chelsea Clinton had been caught with a Heineken at some Stanford frat party while Bill Clinton was in office, the Republicans would have had a field day. One doesn't have to believe this, as it is a hypothetical, but considering the Republicans' tactics regarding President Clinton's friends and other family, it is an obvious one. Again, Democratic retaliation would be idiotic, but this incident serves as a annoying reminder of the Moral Majority's hypocrisy. Though an important teaching of Christianity is "judge not lest ye be judged," moral conservatives operate on the assumption that they have the right to do all the judging. This is both repulsive and at odds with the liberties that the American government grants us. They support legislation that would control what women can and cannot do with their bodies and falsely accuse those who do not agree as murderers, a ridiculous yet powerful tactic. They seek to limit the rights of homosexuals on the basis of what they feel is right, not on scientific fact and liberty. In short, they are a group of irrational anti-intellectuals who serve only as a detriment to democratic society. Their beliefs will eventually hurt them and the Republican Party as a whole as well, if the Repubs aren't careful.

Of course, this means the Repubs are in a bit of a bind. Ditch the Bible-thumpers and you lose a huge chunk of your base, keep them and your semi-sane libertarians jump ship. Still, I think the choice is clear: the Republicans would do well to side with reason. Though the American people may have elected a boob as their president, they are usually pretty good at calling a crock when they see one.

That said, it's still irritating to see W get away unscathed after yet another snafu. The President is incredibly unprepared for press conferences, is trying to pass a fiscally and socially irresponsible tax-cut, and has just announced his unconscionable energy policy, all without any sort of true rebuttal from the left. Where can the Democrats dig their ditches and start firing? In this case, I think the obvious tactic is the best one: attack his intelligence. Though everyone jokes about how slow the president is, the average American (who's pretty dumb himself) really does not know the depths of his ineptitude. Of course, the Dems can't attack him for this outright, but they definitely can point out W's inability to give straight, intelligent answers to questions posed by the press. Just as alarming is the seeming rule by committee in the White House. So far, the only people to call him on this are the folks at finer left-leaning publications, but if that kind of story worms its way into Time or U.S. News and World Report, the tide may quickly change.