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Jewish World Review June 7, 2000 / 4 Sivan, 5760

Chris Matthews

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Consumer Reports

Bush says 'I do' to reality -- ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Selection of an American president can offer more than the dueling banjos of ambition. Sometimes, it can both elevate and illuminate the national consensus.

Consider this banner of "compassionate conservatism" that Texas Gov. George W. Bush has spent a year hoisting. Is he truly promising what the phrase suggests, a Republican presidency that balances its traditional values with the warm-blooded human predicament?

"Can good people be gay?" I asked Bush in an hour-long interview last week.

"Sure, absolutely."

That was the answer from the man who refused, not too many months ago, to be seen with gay Republicans for fear of the tut-tutting it might trigger from the Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Asked if his views have changed over time, he acknowledged, "I'm sure (they have) some," though he was never for "casting stones."

I asked Bush to consider the case of a mature woman, 48 years of age and aware both of her biological clock and her church's teachings, who still decides on an abortion.

"Whose decision is that — under G-d?" I asked the governor. "Who has the final call?"

"You know, I would hope that the person would make a decision," he dodged ever so gently, "to put the child up for adoption."

I asked him if he thought banning abortion would work. Would not those women with the means simply head for Canada for the procedure? How can you stop women from getting an abortion if they want one?

"You can't," he answered. "You can't."

"You're asking me, as the president, would I understand reality?" he continued. "I do."

"I think the key is to change the culture. The role of the president is to set a tone and to appreciate life. I want the goal for America to be that born and unborn children be protected in law and welcomed to life. That's a goal. That's the ideal world. And that's exactly where I intend to lead."

I asked Bush about his past drinking and his decision, on his 40th birthday, to quit. He said he doubted he would be governor now, much less the front-running presidential candidate, had he kept up his old ways.

"It was crowding out my capacity to show love and affection to people."

You could say the same about his early hugging of the religious right.

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


06/05/00: Clinton's odd silence on his achievements
06/02/00: Pelosi, a voice for human rights
05/30/00: Bubba's escape hatches
05/23/00: Who typifies leadership?
05/19/00: Bubba's legacy involves AIDS
05/16/00: Dubyah's outlook for 'playoffs' remains perilous
05/11/00: Giuliani's travels
05/09/00: A Yale degree, a Bob Jones education
05/03/00: Show of force!
05/01/00: Abortion polls don't reflect reality
04/28/00: Bill Russell and American racism
04/24/00: Vietnam 25 -- The good, bad and ugly
04/19/00: Nader's threat to Gore in California
04/17/00: Berkeley politician visits with Elian's father
04/14/00: Clinton and the Castro curse
04/11/00: Men who saved Elián from the sea
04/06/00: Caine should coach politicians
04/03/00: No. 2 spots: Woman-to-woman?
03/29/00: Gray for veep and Gore might coast to victory
03/27/00: The secret life of a CIA wife
03/22/00: 'We're suckers for underdogs'
03/20/00: Bush's California dream vs. reality
03/06/00: Scary Gore vs. hopeful Bush
03/06/00: McCain's appeal to 'Reagan Democrats'
03/01/00: John McCain fits a hero's profile
02/28/00: Grading the American presidents
02/25/00: Clinton remains No. 1 issue
02/23/00: Will Ross Perot aid POW McCain?
02/18/00: McCain faces fury of GOP establishment
02/17/00: Citizen Springer
02/14/00: McCainia and the frisky independents
02/07/00: A prime-time primary for California
02/02/00: Clinton's final campaign: Take the blame
01/31/00: Which GOPer is willing to pay for his positions?
01/27/00: John McCain's gay radar
01/25/00: This time, candidates get 'authenticity' check
01/18/00: AIDS dooms 1 in 4 in tiny Swaziland
01/13/00: Complacency might be the campaign key
01/10/00: A choice, not an echo
01/06/00: The role of a lifetime
01/03/00: Dangers in Gore's dirty war
12/30/99: Churchill's fighting words saved the century
12/28/99: Candidate Gore's separation anxiety
12/17/99: Catch 22: Leading candidates don't lead
12/17/99: New Democratic leader on the horizon
12/15/99: Is Hillary clueless?
12/08/99: Taking Buchananism to the streets
12/03/99: Why are we so obsessed with 'spin'?
12/01/99: Donald Trump, 'Sinatra of Steel'
11/29/99: Why AlGore will be our next president
11/23/99: After the fall
11/17/99: Our conveniently forgetful president
11/15/99: Next president: Male, WASP, self-selected
11/10/99: Backroom Bill
11/08/99: Please don't feed the 'pander bears'
11/03/99: Battle of the Bubba clones
11/01/99: Pat Buchanan, kamikaze candidate
10/27/99: The year of the woman... voter
10/25/99: The Curse of the Bubba
10/21/99: GOP gives Clinton his finest hour
10/18/99: Clinton's last hurrah
10/13/99: Rough seas for Capt. Ventura
10/11/99: Gore targets Bradley's strength
10/06/99: Bradley's got the right Rx
10/04/99: Buchanan, Churchill and Hitler
09/30/99: Who'll spin political gold in Golden State — Gore or Bradley?
09/27/99: Here's a millennial checklist for candidates
09/22/99: The biography battle
09/20/99: Buchanan's new book is a must-read
09/15/99: Don't rule out Beatty
09/13/99: The man with the sun on his face
09/08/99: W. vs. Jr. on dope and the draft
The FALN: Hillary's Willie Horton
08/26/99: Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race
08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

© 2000, NEA