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Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 1999 /20 Kislev, 5760

Cal Thomas

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Dubyah as Reagan III, not Bush II --
THE SYMBOLISM and rhetoric in Gov. George W. Bush's foreign policy speech at the Reagan library and in his "Meet the Press'' appearance last Sunday were unmistakable. Bush is sending a message that if he is the next president of the United States he will give America the third Reagan term voters thought they were getting when they elected his father president in 1992. A George W. Bush presidency, he signaled, will be Reagan III, not Bush II.

First, Bush chose the Reagan library -- not the Ford, Nixon or Bush library -- for his foreign policy address. He was introduced by George Shultz, Reagan's secretary of state, not Nixon's (Henry Kissinger) or Bush's (James Baker). He mentioned Ronald Reagan's name six times and made just one passing reference to his father's successful handling of the Persian Gulf War.

On China, Bush was tough. In his speech and on "Meet the Press,'' Bush pledged he would "help Taiwan defend itself''with a theater missile defense system. And he'll build one "with or without'' Russia's approval. "China is rising,'' said Bush, in an apparent reference to a new book, "Red Dragon Rising,'' by Capitol Hill staff veterans Ed Timperlake and William Triplett II, which documents in chilling detail the way the Beijing regime is becoming a military threat to the United States.

Bush might have touched on other hot issues, such as the Middle East and how he would defend against terrorism. Perhaps he hasn't gotten that far with his advisors yet. He might also have dealt more with corruption in Russia. Vice President Al Gore is vulnerable on this.

In his television interview, Bush mimicked Reagan's limited agenda: "I believe that government should do a few things and do them well.'' His priorities will be reforming Social Security and Medicare. For the first time, Bush would allow some private investment so that future retirees could take advantage of compounded interest that is now helping people in Britain and several other nations compile substantial nest eggs, much larger than ones based on a system of payroll taxes that earns no interest.

Four times Bush said he would spend "political capital'' to achieve some of these objectives. This contrasts with his father's failure to withdraw political capital after the Gulf War when his approval ratings were at 90 percent.

Bush's agenda? "Entitlement reform, lower taxes to keep the economy growing, a stronger military to keep the peace and education reform.'' Details to follow shortly, he said. Bush's plan could not sound more Reaganesque. Like Reagan, Bush is optimistic, preferring to focus on solutions instead of problems. In chemistry, two negatives make a positive, but in politics multiplying negatives produces more negatives.

He told the gay rights lobby it shouldn't expect the same rights as heterosexual married people because marriage and adoption of children ought to be for men and women. And he won't meet with homosexual Republicans. He called Gore advisor Naomi Wolf's recommendation of masturbation to cool the ardor of teenagers "pathetic.'' Bush said that abstinence works when it is tried, and that kids will respond to an abstinence message if it is properly taught and modeled.

Rather than emphasizing abortion, Bush emphasized life and, like Mother Teresa, spoke of its interconnectedness: "It's not only life for the unborn, it is life for the elderly, it is life of the young, it is life of the living.'' Bush sees in the recent high-profile school and church shootings a reflection of the general devaluing of all human life. He would immediately sign a partial birth abortion ban, and he supports other pro-life measures. But he acknowledges that while he favors a constitutional amendment protecting the unborn, "the country is not ready'' for one.

But he pledged as president to "promote life'' in hopes of heading toward that goal.

Bush clearly sent a powerful signal to those who think he might appoint a liberal justice to the Supreme Court, such as his father's mistaken pick of David Souter. He mentioned the Court's most conservative members, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, as his favorites.

Bush's message could not have been more clear, especially to those conservatives worried that the perceived sins of the father may have been visited on the son. The son loves the father, but the son is his own man.

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