Saturday, February 26, 2005


A recent question, posed by Hugh Hewitt in Vox Blogoli 2.2 , asks whether the Republicans ought to fight like Gen. Grant or Gen. McClellan against Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s threat to shut down the Senate if the Republican majority does away with the filibuster of President Bush’s judicial nominees. It is a compelling question for Christians who think about politics, and especially to the evangelical Christians who make up a big part of the President’s Responsibility / Ownership / Compassion / Strength coalition.

I believe that evangelical Christians who support this President, to the extent that they are “conservative”, have agreed to look past the things President Bush has done that some call "liberal": expanding Medicare to cover expensive prescriptions for wealthy retirees, proposing a fuzzy approach to illegal immigration, supporting an education bill that Sen. Ted Kennedy likes, or liked, and indulging in a brief flirtation with protectionism.

(Never mind that President Bush, in the aggregate, is the most supply-side minded President of this century and the previous, or at least the second-most after President Reagan. On the big issues - tax cuts, Social Security reform - the American taxpayer has no better ally than George W. Bush. But that’s a fiscal view.)

So it seems that Christians are keeping their eyes on the main issue: stopping the erosion of our freedoms by a legislative, imperial judiciary. This is bigger than abortion, however important that may be. There are other issues in which anti-Christian forces use the judiciary to erode liberty: euthanasia, property rights, homosexual “marriage”. Also, Christians can see their brothers and sisters in other Western countries, supposedly democratic, being thrown in jail because they preach God’s word faithfully, or suffering government harassment because they home school their children - places where the judiciary has a disproportionate amount of power.

Christians are highly sensitized to the reality that there are not enough strict constructionist judges on the bench. George W. Bush knows this and is their man. He could raise taxes and retain the support of this group (despite the fact that this would be incongruous).

(By the way, isn’t “strict constructionist” awkward? How about “fair”?)

I’d bet the President is willing to knife-fight this, even with his characteristic winsomeness and subtlety. The question is, how strongly are Senate Republicans willing to fight?

They ought to fight like Grant. They owe their 55-strong majority to the President, his message discipline, brilliant leadership of the party’s GOTV effort, and willingness to spend political capital on the campaign trail on their behalf. Squeamishness on this account may drive some of the evangelicals who invigorate the GOP away, if they see the party they support going McClellan on the subject of judges.

This wouldn’t be smart - a President Hillary Clinton is a dangerous possibility, even if today she blows conciliatory kisses to the pro-life majority, and a Democratic Senate would be almost as bad.

Long lasting governing majorities pay attention to the coalitions that give them power. The Senate Republicans ought to heed this. Time to fight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say that President Hillary Clinton is a danger. Now, what if she does become president and the mood of the few non-partisan Americans switches to the Democrats? Suppose Republicans do become the minority party again. Chances are it will happen at some point. The most difficult aspect of becoming spiritually aware is hubris. Hubris may also doom political aspirations. I think conservatives need to check their hubris, which seems to tell them that they are infallible and invincible. By all means Grant, conservatives, and may you live to experience the consequences.

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