Jewish World Review August 22, 2001/ 3 Elul 5761

Wesley Pruden

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With these critics, who needs friends? -- ALL politicians make enemies. It goes with the territory. The lucky ones make ugly enemies.

The really, really lucky (and clever) ones find a Sister Souljah. You could ask Bill Clinton.

When Sister Souljah, the eminent raptress, composer and humanitarian, remarked at the beginning of the '92 campaign that black folks ought to take a week off from work and spend it killing white folks, Mr. Clinton heard opportunity knocking. He scolded her in semi-scathing terms.

Then the eminent rhyming theologian Jesse Jackson rushed to defend her, and Mr. Clinton couldn't believe how good his luck really was. In one defining moment the eminent Arkansas stud established himself as a man of principled politics and moral courage, which lasted until everyone got to know him as well as his one-time Arkansas neighbors.

And now George W. Bush has found his Sister Souljah. Several of them. They're the purveyors of a gruesome, over-the-top Web site called "The Nuremberg Files," the address of which you will not find here. They profess to be right-to-life activists, and purport to be outraged by George W.'s Solomonic decision to authorize federal stem-cell research with material from fetuses that would otherwise be destroyed. But maybe these folk are left-wing provocateurs trying to discredit the principled right-to-life movement (and the Gospel of Christ) with a flamboyant excess of mean-spirited lunacy. George W. couldn't have invented more useful critics.

"The Nuremberg Files" posted a list of "abortionists and their accomplices," including doctors who perform abortions, several of whom sued to strike the site as an incitement to violence. The Nurembergers won the right on appeal to keep the site. "George W(icked) Bush," as the Nurembergers call him, has been added to the list in the wake of his stem-cell decision. A sample of the denunciation of the president, couched in the muddy theology of the mean and ignorant:

"What's really scary is there is even a real possibility that George W. is saved in the long run. Perhaps George W. Bush does believe that Jesus Christ died for his sins and was raised from the grave. But, even granting that George W. Bush might be saved, there is no doubt that the stem-cell research decision has made him a living embodiment of the fact that a Christian might be saved for eternity but live on earth in the here and now as an evil collaborator with baby butchers whose conscience has been totally defiled by the wiles of Satan."

If we didn't know Karl Rove as a sweet-spirited gent and Karen Hughes as a babe with a warm, soft heart we might think the White House, having studied the Clinton strategy, had deliberately plotted to entice the loonies to sing this tune, so neatly does it fit a strategy for defusing a bomb. Now the principled critics of the president's decision, who might have been tempted to loose the usual volley of nuclear rhetoric, will grieve carefully and choose their words of condemnation precisely to avoid being mistaken for singers of the looney tunes.

Hardly anyone threw his (or her) hat in the air in celebration of the president's decision. George W. himself didn't expect that. He knew that he would disappoint everyone who expected him to render a sweeping "yes" or "no." And nearly everyone, even those who expressed emphatic but civil disappointment at the president's reasoning, granted his good faith.

Said David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee: "The president has acted to save the lives that he could." James C. Dobson, president of the million-member Focus on the Family, expressed disappointment but said the president "deserves praise." Pat Robertson, president of the Christian Coalition, called the decision "an elegant solution to a thorny problem." Roman Catholic prelates, echoing Pope John Paul II's uncompromising hostility to the modern doctrines of convenience that have become the catechism of the secular elites, scolded the president for, in the language of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, "open[ing] the door to experimentation on human beings." But he nevertheless applauded the president's opposition to human cloning and praised much of his stem-cell decision.

As if on cue, the Democrats, the medical researchers and the doctors of the American Medical Association offered applause with one hand, grousing that the decision was OK but didn't go far enough.

A man is known by his friends, as we all know, but it's equally true that sometimes the cut of a man's jib (whatever that may be) can be most accurately measured by the size, squawk and squeal of his enemies. George W. can say a prayer of thanksgiving for some of his.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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