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Jewish World Review Dec. 23, 2000 / 25 Kislev, 5761

James Lileks

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Consumer Reports

Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em! -- GEORGE BUSH needs to find a small, unpopulated, ecologically irrelevant country, and nuke it. Day One. Right out of the box: take the oath, have the party, push the button. Make it clear to all that no matter what Dick Gephardt says, Dubya has the keys to the Kingdom. Doesn't matter that Jesse Jackson is willing to convene mobs to display their disinclination to understand the Constitution: Dubya is the man in the chair behind the big broad desk, and that's where this story starts.

But more than anything, GW needs to do . . . something. Everyone's agreed on that. It can't be one of those nutcase radical right-wing ideas, like letting poor minority people get vouchers to attend the same schools as their rich white betters. Oh, HEAVENS no. He should do something bipartisan: nationalize Microsoft. Slap a 150% tax on SUVs. Give Alec Baldwin the chairmanship of the NEA . Appoint Alan Dershowitz to the Supreme Court. Have NASA get to work on chiseling Clinton's face on the moon. And most of all, stop nominating Blacks to your staff. Be a good liberal and nominate whites who talk about the need for diversity.

In other words: Bush had better realize the cold facts of this election. He won. And that means he is obligated to adopt the agenda of the people he defeated. But what was Gore's agenda, exactly? His entire campaign could be boiled down to a promise to equalize the drug prices for humans and dogs, and not do anything Bush would do.

That's it. Oh, Gore had some cute little tax cuts, but they were full of provisions and loopholes: if families sent their children to a school where 47% of the teachers had hairy legs and hyphenated names, AND the family heated their aquarium with roof-mounted solar panels purchased from companies whose board of directors had at least three people whose great-great-great grandmother had been insulted by a Conquistador, then Good Ol' Big Brother Al would give them a ten dollar bill and a coupon good for an extra glazed down at the Krispy Kreme.

This is how liberalism works: you behave a certain way, and you get a treat. The notion of simply giving people a tax cut without requiring that they do anything strikes liberals as a squandered opportunity. For heaven's sake, at least make them do something about their nose hairs, or make them stop buying those creepy Diva Starz dolls, or watching wrestling. Do something. What's the point of having the power to control people if you don't use it?

This isn't Bush's style. He doesn't regard America as a nation of marionettes waiting for his skillful hands to tug their strings. He's a classic Reagan conservative: hands off your wallet, hands off your business, open purse for defense, a furrowed brow on behalf of the social issues. It's about as mainstream as it gets - but the Democrats insist that this is an agenda so extreme that Bush is truly Newt Incarnate.

But there isn't any Newt. There aren't any demons - and that gripes the Dems. Bush has nominated minorities to positions Clinton filled with paler visages. Bush's tax cut reduce the federal chomp on the lower classes, something Clinton never bothered to do. Bush wants to give poor people access to the same schools and financial markets enjoyed by rich White Democrats.

Obviously, he must be defeated. Tax cut? Hah! Democrats have pronounced it dead on arrival. Missile defense? Dead on arrival. Social Security reform? Dead on arrival. Partial birth abortion ban? Dead on - er, surgically extracted and hygienically disposed. (And it wasn't really a proposal. It was an nonviable legislative mass.)

This one can expect. What's equally expected is the tendency of some on the right to disapprove of Colin Powell and Condi Rice on the grounds of ideological impurities. Some people whine BETRAYAL the moment a Republican expresses doubts that fertilized cells have second amendment rights. Look: Powell and Rice aren't new on the scene. Their positions were clear to all, and conservatives voted for Bush knowing this. There's probably going to be some gay people in the administration, too. A few divorcees here and there. Maybe some erratic churchgoers. Live with it.

GW has his work cut out for him, and doesn't need defections on the right. Unless you want the failure of the administration to be the first bipartisan achievement.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2000, James Lileks