Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2002 / 2 Kislev 5763

Thomas Sowell

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Political history -- and the future

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The oh-so-smug and oh-so-glib media "experts" have ended up with egg on their face for the second time in a few weeks. First their "profiles" of the Beltway sniper turned out to be completely wrong -- wrong car and wrong race, among other things -- and now their talk about the inevitable losses of the party in power in mid-term elections has turned out to be hogwash.

Perhaps even more striking, the president who was supposed to be dull-witted turned out to be the key factor in the Republicans' big wins. All the smart money was saying that President Bush would only lose his own high approval rating by partisan campaigning and that he would be better off staying home in the White House and looking presidential.

Not since Ronald Reagan has a man who was supposed to be so dumb kept beating people who were supposed to be so smart. This was not only a big win for the Republicans. It was also a big defeat for media smugness and glibness.

Now what?

With power comes responsibility. When the presidential election of 2004 rolls around, the voters are going to want to know what George W. Bush and the Republicans have actually accomplished with the power they were given. There will be no excuses that the Democrats obstructed the president's agenda or held up his judicial nominees.

On the one hand, the president will have to remember to "dance with the one who brung you" and make good on promises to his loyal supporters. On the other hand, his supporters will have to remember that no president of either party has been able to fight every battle -- much less win every battle -- since the first 100 days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration in 1933.

Both may need to recall General Douglas MacArthur's military strategy that led to brilliant victories in the Pacific during World War II, with much lower casualties than in the European theater. MacArthur by-passed many heavily fortified islands held by the Japanese, attacking only the ones that were militarily essential.

There are many heavily fortified political islands out there that conservatives would like to see the Bush administration take -- abolishing the Department of Education, for example -- but the question is: At what cost? On the other hand, there are other islands that have to be taken, even at horrendous cost, because they are essential to long-term victory.

The courts are high on the list of major objectives. Nothing has so corrupted the institutions of government, and undermined the right of the American people to choose their own laws and policies, as the intervention of judges to over-rule elected officials and impose their own preferences under the dishonest pretense that they are "interpreting" these laws and following the constitution.

One of the reasons the United States has lost control of its own borders and is unable to keep out millions of illegal immigrants is that courts -- especially the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- bend over backward to find flimsy excuses to prevent illegal aliens from being sent back where they came from.

One of the reasons it is so hard to get rid of racial quotas, despite the fact that the majority of the American people are against them, is that the Supreme Court keeps trying to finesse the issue by pretending that preferences for some is compatible with equality for all, as prescribed by the 14th Amendment.

We do not need liberal judges or conservative judges. We need judges who follow the laws and the constitution. And we need to get such judges confirmed by the Senate, without ideological litmus tests based on abortion or any other political issue. This is one of those islands that cannot be by-passed if we want to preserve the right of Americans to govern themselves.

Above all, we need to survive, because no other rights mean anything if we don't survive. It is a tragic farce that we are waiting to see what the United Nations has to say about our need to stop Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons. That is another island that has to be taken, regardless of what some free-loading windbags and petty despots say at the U.N.

The Republicans have just hit a triple. The question is whether they will score or die on third.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate