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Jewish World Review Feb. 17, 1999 /1 Adar, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

As Minn. goes,
so goes the nation?

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) JUST WHEN YOU WERE SURE that conservatism and the libertarian preference for limited government were becoming extinct, they make unexpected appearances, pushing up through the concrete of liberalism like determined green sprouts.

In his State of the Union address, President Clinton once more showed his talent for deception by outlining his latest schemes for spending our tax dollars all the while pretending to be saving them for Social Security. But beyond the question of whether the plan to have your cake and eat it too is honest, we have neglected the question that once animated nearly all domestic debates between liberals and conservatives: Should the government be a security blanket, shielding us from every imaginable hardship or discomfort (and extracting 40 percent to 50 percent of our income in the process), or a remote and unintrusive rule setter, letting us find our own way and leaving us alone?

During the Reagan years, it seemed that there was a large and knowing constituency for limited government. Ronald Reagan, echoing his hero Barry Goldwater, preached limited government and was rewarded with two landslide victories. But Clinton, who offers government help for everything from leaky school roofs to fly-away hair, is rewarded with the highest approval ratings of any modern White House occupant (putting aside the frightening possibility that Clinton's approval ratings are the consequence of his ethical failings).

It was possible to read the 1994 election results -- which felled only Democratic office holders and shifted the power balance decisively in favor of Republicans -- as a limited-government mandate. The Contract for America spoke of devolving power to the states and localities. Yet, when the Republicans proceeded to act on that assumption, they had their heads handed to them by President Clinton, with the staunch support of the opinion polls. Perhaps the message of 1994 was quite limited: no new government health care system but no change in the rest of the federal behemoth.

(In an amazing bit of political jujitsu, Clinton was later able to take credit for the balanced budget that he had resisted so strenuously during the government shutdown.)

So where, in the post-impeachment landscape, does one find the stouthearted notion of individual responsibility and limited government making a comeback? Why, in the heart of liberal Minnesota -- home of Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Walter Mondale. Only days after President Clinton was proposing to federalize the problem of "social promotion," Gov. Jesse Ventura observed that National Public Radio did not need and did not deserve public money.

It seems Ventura had worked in radio and knew that some commercial stations were holding their equipment together with spit and tape, while their competitors at public radio had state-of-the-art equipment.

OK, maybe taking on public radio is mere boilerplate. But there's more. Last week, Jesse the Brain Ventura met with a hundred or so protesters from the state university. They were demanding the usual things -- more money from the taxpayers of Minnesota to help balance their checkbooks.

Perhaps you must have once been a Navy Seal, or perhaps you need a wrestling career to supply the requisite courage, but Gov. Ventura met these protesters with the kind of brio rarely (never?) found in politics today. "I believe in self-sufficiency," he told the crowd to loud boos. "I am a single mother," cried one plaintive voice from the crowd. "Well, I don't want to sound hard-core," Ventura responded, "but why did you become a single parent? It takes two to raise ... "

"And sometimes one of them walks away," the student interrupted. "What then?" she demanded. Ventura looked exasperated. "You're asking the government to make up for people's mistakes. Is that the government's job?" But "we are the future," chanted the kids. "Who gave me anything?" Ventura shot back.

The American people may be fickle. They may send confusing signals sometimes. But the concept of limited government on which this nation was founded has a way of reviving --- sometimes in quite muscular fashion.


2/09/99:Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99:Teaching morality
2/01/99: What did he say?
1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
1/05/99: Try him!
12/30/98:The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.