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Jewish World Review July 23, 1999 /3 Av, 5759

Cal Thomas

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George W. Bush Sends A Signal --
IS GEORGE W. BUSH what some of his critics say he is -- a squishy, establishment Republican, whose heart is not in matters of the soul like abortion or in lowering taxes, shrinking gove\kent and toughening our foreign policy so our adversaries will again respect us?

Who better to answer that question than the Governor himself.

'W' calls from the road. I ask him what signal can he send to anxious conservatives that he will not, if nominated and elected, disappoint them?

He begins by talking about his faith in Jesus, but for the moment I am less interested in how he's getting to Heaven than in how he plangLto get to Washington and what he intends to do if he makes it.

'The point is that people need to know where my heart is,' says the Governor, possibly signaling me to look up Proverbs 27:19, 'As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.' Is he signaling me that the condition of his heart indicates his true character? Read my heart, not read my lips?

What about the concerns of social conservatives over your pledge to have 'no litmus test' on judges? He replies, 'I think it's important to note that on abortion I have been consistent in my position ever since I've been governor. I've looked for ways to reduce abortion at the state level. We parqed a good parental notification bill, one of the best in the nation. When it comes to the selection of judges, whether at the state or federal level, I believe it's important for people to know that I will put people on the bench who share a conservative philosophy and who strictly interpret the Constitution.'

A person at the top of the Bush camp elaborates that if one does the homework on a potential nominee and properly investigates his or her record, it won't be necessary to ask specific questions on abortion or much else because their record will show where they stand. ' Besides,' says the source, 'if any president were to ask about specific cases that might come before the court, a judge who had been asked such a question would have to recuse himself from ruling in the case.'

When I hear 'strictly interpret the Constitution,' a phrase used both by Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, I am supposed to relax. But while William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice and Antonin Scalia became an Associate Justice under Reagan, that president still gave us Sandra Day O'Connor andIwthony Kennedy, who have voted to uphold Roe vs. Wade. And Bush's father, while nominating Clarence Thomas, also gave us David Souter, who quickly embraced the court's liberal wing. So, if George W. becomes president, he'd better make sure his homework is better than these former presidents.

Concerned conservatives, he says, 'need to focus on my record. I have cut taxes twice. $1 billion the first year; nearly $2 billion the second time. These were the largest tax cuts in state history. The basic priorities of the Federal government should be: (1) take care of the elderly. We must make sure Social Security exists and that it's around for people coming up. That's why I support personal savings accounts. (2) Medicare is also part of the commitment to the elderly. If we interject more competition, more choice, more availability of product, including Medical Savings Accounts, it's not going to require too much money in order to make sure the system fulfills it's promise. (3) We need to reinvigorate the military in order to maintain the peace. Once the needs are met, we should pass back the money left over to the taxpayers and that's what I've done in Texas.'

A foreign policy question. If China threatens to forcibly take over Taiwan, should the U.S. commit military power to prevent that from happening? He gives a straightforward answer: 'Yes. What you're asking is should we honor our defense pact (the Taiwan Relations Act) with Taiwan and the answer is yes.'

Later, Bush calls back and adds, diplomatically, 'It's important that all disputes over China and Taiwan be settled peacefully. The one China policy has worked, allowing Taiwan to grow and maintain a strong market economy, which is a good example to Beijing.' I liked the first answer better, but he admittedly is still learning the foreign ropes. Better hurry.

Are these 'signals' to social conservatives designed to reassure them while he seeks to avoid early labeling as 'out of the mainstream'? It would seem so. That strategy is keeping him high in the polls and flush with money. It's also worrying President Clinton who is already attacking him. That may be the best signal of all.


07/16/99: Hillary's drop-in candidacy
07/13/99: Sen. Bob Smith's revolt
07/09/99: Clinton has wrong answers on poverty tour
07/07/99: To tell the truth
06/29/99: A family to value
06/25/99: Remembering Eric Liddell
06/21/99: In the culture wars it's G-d vs. guns
06/18/99: Unequal justice under a bad law
06/15/99: Speaker Hastert wants reinforcements
06/11/99: Clues for the clueless
06/09/99: Victory? What victory?
06/07/99: Too good for prime time
06/03/99:The Creator and Commencement
05/28/99: The Cox Committee Report
05/26/99: 'A turning point for our country'
05/24/99: Barak is not Israel's savior
05/19/99: It takes a leader
05/17/99: Questions for Gov. Bush and the others
05/12/99: OAF-ish behavior explains U.S. mistakes
05/07/99: Israel's high-stakes election
05/04/99: Jeb Bush chooses to save kids, not institutions
04/26/99: Surrendering our civilization
04/26/99: War abroad, war at home

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