Jewish World Review August 13, 2003 / 15 Menachem-Av, 5763

Tony Blankley

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

George Will's trifecta of punitive aspirations | George F. Will, the respected dean of Washington conservative columnists, has written a singularly dyspeptic column on the California recall election. He advises truly conservative Californians to "vote against the recall to protest its plebiscitary cynicism (and as a precaution find a conservative candidate from the list)." He goes on to hope for Governor Davis to be muscled into resignation, which, Mr. Will theorizes, might "deflate" the recall and permit Lt. Gov. Bustamante to become both acting and then actual governor -- with all the problems that will entail. This, Mr. Will suggests, would be "condign punishment" for the Democratic Party.

Mr. Will completes his trifecta of punitive aspirations with the following slap: "California's Republican Party, sunk in frivolousness and opportunism, also deserves to come out of this badly. That is conservatism's hope for this recall: ruin all round." In "California According to Will," Election Day would be followed promptly by locusts, frogs, boils and floods. Suffer, ye California sinners, suffer.

As a former Californian, I have always thought that East Coasters seem particularly small and provincial when they lampoon or chastise the Golden State. I suppose such attitudes are driven by fear of, and envy for, the sheer vivacity of California life. But as a conservative and fellow citizen (Californians are also Americans, I would remind my fellow Washington pundits), I take the recall seriously. Of course, one would have to have a heart of stone not to giggle at an election ballot roster that includes a paralyzed pornography distributor who is presumably numb below the waist, two Arnolds -- one a midget, the other a former Mr. Universe, a socialite heiress who sounds like Zsa-Zsa Gabor and thinks like Huey Long, a blonde porno star who pouts her lascivious lips on cue for the news cameras, and a Lt. Governor whose only previous national attention was gained by using in a public speech the "N" word to describe African-Americans.

Donate to JWR

But after having a good laugh, one would hope that serious commentators would take the election seriously. Whatever the past electoral mistakes made by California voters, our fellow citizens are now in need of sober decision-making and good government. I don't understand Mr. Will's reference to "plebiscitary cynicism." It is an election authorized by the state constitution. Californians always directly elect their governors. There is nothing radically democratic about the process; nor anything more cynical than one always finds in elections.

It has come about because the regular four-year election cycle failed. Gray Davis was, justifiably, a vastly unpopular governor who had the good fortune to have as his Republican opponent in the last election the most incompetent major party candidate in living memory. The public had been poised to defeat Davis last November, but Mr. Simon kicked away the opportunity. The California electorate, in its solid, good judgment is going to correct that on Oct. 7.

Most curious of all Mr. Will's belittling observations was his charge that California's Republican Party is frivolous and opportunistic. That is a cruel and unfair charge coming from a principled conservative such as Mr. Will. The plight of that party is precisely that they are not opportunistic. As the state has moved steadily to the left over the last two decades (due in part to massive illegal immigration), the state Republican Party has stood heroically by its values and convictions. It has seen its numbers in state and local government diminish precisely because it would not endorse abortion on demand, liberal social welfare programs, radical environmental provisions, nanny state hectoring, higher taxes and bountiful welfare for illegal immigrants. I can't believe that Mr. Will truly believes that standing on principle makes a party frivolous. I seem to recall us conservatives ridiculing politicians who sought "relevance" over principle.

Finally, Mr. Will claims that conservatism's hope for the recall should be "ruin all around." That is not this conservative's hope. I hope Californians elect a solid Republican who can convert his election into a mandate for leadership that will help Californians recover their historic prosperity and joy of life. Since the gold rush days of 1849, a wealthy, invigorating California culture has been one of the great engines of American progress. The "ruined" California for which Mr. Will awaits will not yield solid conservative values. Such a condition would be a breeding ground from which the foulest political and cultural creatures would wriggle into the larger American culture. Californians: There are some of us here in Washington's own la-la land who wish you well.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

07/30/03: A question for the candidates: Whose side are you on?
07/23/03: When GOPers attack their leader
07/17/03: Spanish fest mirrors U.S. elections
07/09/03: On the horns of a dilemma
06/25/03: The continuing deaths of American and British soldiers in Iraq should not be rhetorically minimized -- but sanctified
06/18/03: No reason to feel defensive about criticism of the war on terrorism
06/11/03: The Clintons — self-proclaimed geniuses — have no defense against the charge of cunning mendacity
06/04/03: George 'Machiavelli' Bush? Nah
05/28/03: When 'progressives' become reactionaries
05/21/03: Yes, this conservative is defending the NYTimes
05/14/03: Playing the politics of deflation
05/07/03: Only the stupid could think it'll be the economy: Comparing the Bushes 04/30/03: How to squelch increasing Iraqi distrust of America
04/25/03: Winning the war, losing the peace
04/16/03: Our own domestic Senate Republican Guard better be prepared for a grinding
04/03/03: At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts
04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
03/05/03: Franc-tireur
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French 02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue

© 2002, Creators Syndicate