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Jewish World ReviewFeb. 5, 2001 / 12 Shevat, 5761

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports


Dubya is confounding the media


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- GEORGE BUSH utterly confounded his detractors with a great first week in office. For reasons I will explain, he will probably continue to confound them.

Many seem to think that Bush's early successes are the result of carefully orchestrated political maneuverings. Eventually, substance will prevail over form, and Bush will revert to his true colors, and the honeymoon mirage will abruptly end.

I suppose it's natural for the media to assume that presidents are primarily driven by politics rather than principle; we've just ended eight years of that. Admittedly, Bush has considerable political skills and a charm that may prove to rival Bill Clinton's. But just because Bush has those attributes doesn't mean he'll misuse them as Clinton did.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman, for example, wrote, "during his first week on the job, Bush was a veritable Astaire at the political equivalent of the Texas two-step." So far, so good. But Howard continues, "He paid off the conservative base of his party on abortion, then reached out to moderates on education." Hold on, now, Howard. That sentence reeks with cynicism.

By executive order, Bush commemorated the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reinstating the "Mexico City Policy" begun under President Reagan that bans U.S. funding to international family planning groups that support abortion. Fineman's knee-jerk assumption is that Bush was motivated not by his core values, but by political considerations.

Fineman's Exhibit B is that Bush "reached out to moderates on education." Wrong again, if by that he means that Bush demonstrated a willingness to subordinate his principles for the sake of bipartisan harmony. It can be legitimately argued that Bush's education plan is moderate in that many conservatives altogether oppose federal involvement in education. It cannot be reasonably argued, however, that Bush has softened his plan since the election. He may later yield some ground on vouchers, but he hasn't done so yet.

Lest you think I am misreading Fineman, check out this sentence, "Watching his dad's struggles, Bush the Younger learned a crucial lesson: Honor the right early, so you don't have to do it later on." To the contrary, Bush openly campaigned as an ardent pro-lifer. There is no evidence that he made this move to pacify anyone other than himself.

In the last paragraph there is one more reference to a supposed Bush political calculation. This one concerns Bush's tax cut proposal, which Fineman concludes was "designed initially in 1999 to fend off Steve Forbes." Again, I beg to differ. Bush conceived of his modest tax plan long before Forbes became a perceived threat to his nomination.

I'm not picking on Fineman, but using his statements as an example because I think they are representative of the major media's view of President Bush. They misunderstand him and grossly underestimate him and his character. And character, by the way, is the point. Just as they by and large failed to grasp its significance with Bill Clinton, they are with Bush.

Bush does have deeply held beliefs, but they cannot be neatly categorized into either side of the traditional liberal-conservative dichotomy. He is a conservative to be sure, but he is no ideologue. While he believes strongly in local control and accountability in education he exhibits no reticence about the federal government's ever-expanding financial participation. While he is ardently pro-life, he wouldn't commit to a pro-life litmus test for his judicial nominees. The examples are endless.

My purpose is not to pinpoint precisely how far to the right of center Bush fits on the ideological spectrum. Rather, it is to say that he does have core beliefs and the courage to fiercely advocate them.

We are seeing the real George Bush (because he is real), not another phony politician whose other shoe is anxious to drop. Though he is genuinely interested in establishing an atmosphere of bipartisanship, he knows what he wants to accomplish and is determined to do it.

To liberals Bush must be an exasperating paradox. "He's conservative, yet compassionate. How can that be? Only we are compassionate." "He's witless, yet a strong, determined leader? What's that about? He must be a fraud." "He cares about minorities. No way, he's a conservative, and they're racially insensitive."

Those who continue to underrate and misjudge Bush as a rudderless, opportunistic politician will remain confounded. But from my perspective, that's not all bad.



JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

Up

01/29/01: The Teamsters, the DNC and the reformers
01/29/01: The Old Limey
01/25/01: Clintonís disgraceful departure
01/22/01: Ashcroft: Principle above self
01/17/01: Justice for Riady?
01/15/01: Ashcroft: A hill to die on
01/10/01: Returning to the supply side
01/08/01: Reasons for optimism
01/03/01: Bush's daunting challenges
12/28/00: Ashcroft: A triumph for the rule of law
12/26/00: A tinge of revenge?
12/20/00: GOP: Breaking the race barrier
12/18/00: Civility doesn't require surrender
12/13/00: Al Gore: Innocent victimizer
12/11/00: Judicial restraint and ordered liberty
12/06/00: The four years war
12/04/00: Debunking Gore myths
11/29/00: Defending the smaller principles
11/27/00: Albert O'Gore and the little people
11/22/00: Doing 'anything to win'
11/15/00: Enough is enough, Mr. Gore
11/13/00: Al Gore: Thy country or thyself?
11/08/00: Bill and Al: Your time is up
11/06/00:The impending Bush mandate
11/01/00: Can't stop thinkin' 'bout tomorrow
10/30/00: George: Give Gore the ball back
10/25/00: Mr. Gore: A few more questions
10/23/00: It's the big government, stupid
10/18/00: Gore's down, so will he panic?
10/16/00: We're fresh out of new Al Gores
10/11/00: Gore: Fuzzy math = dirty politics
10/10/00:Gore: Renaissance man or unbalanced?
10/04/00: Where have you been, Albert Jr.?
10/02/00: Clintonís fragmented presidency
09/27/00: Liberal media doth protest too much
09/25/00: AlGore: Turning dreams into nightmares
09/20/00: Something fishy's going on
09/18/00: It's the liberalism, stupid
09/13/00: An open letter to open-minded cynics
09/11/00: The virtues of going negative
09/06/00: On a mission for marriage
09/04/00: Al Gore's 'Trivial Pursuits'
08/30/00: Lieberman and the paradox of liberal 'tolerance'
08/28/00: A campaign divided against itself
08/23/00: Al Gore's trickle-down populism
08/21/00: Prosperity without a clue
08/16/00: AlGore can run but he can't hide
08/14/00: When hate speech is OK
08/09/00: Bush: The pundits' enigma
08/07/00: GOP convention: Live or Memorex?
08/02/00: The first attack dog
07/31/00: The Cheney taint?
07/26/00: The anti-gun bogeyman
07/24/00: The raging culture war
07/19/00: Is Hillary 'Good for the Jews'?
07/17/00: How dare you, George?
07/12/00: Jacoby's raw deal
07/10/00: The perplexities of liberalism
07/05/00: Big Al and big oil
07/03/00: Partial-birth and total death
06/28/00: Some questions for you, Mr. Gore
06/26/00: Supreme Court assaults religious freedom
06/21/00: Waco: We are the jury
06/19/00: "Outrage" just doesn't quite cut it anymore!
06/14/00: Al Gore: Government's best friend
06/12/00: Say goodbye to medical privacy
06/07/00: Elian: Whose hands were tied?
06/05/00: Who, which, what is the real Al Gore?
06/01/00: Legacy-building idea for Clinton
05/30/00: Clinton: Above the law or not?
05/24/00: Not so fast, Hillary
05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
05/17/00: Can Bush risk pro-choice running mate?
05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?

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