Birth Pangs

     Back when I was "a roaring anti-Semite" (and long 
before Jimmy Carter was accused of being one, though his 
brother Billy was), I was afraid the neoconservatives 
would get us into a war with the Arabs. That was the easy 
part. What I didn't expect -- because I just couldn't 
even imagine it -- was our getting stuck in a Muslim 
civil war. What president, of either party, could ever be 
that dumb? Or that smart? (In the sense of knowing how to 
accomplish such an impossible thing.)

     I suppose you could regard civil war, where people 
kill each other spontaneously, without being ordered to 
by government, as a form of democracy. In that respect, 
maybe democracy really is spreading in the Middle East, 
just as President Bush promised. And Condoleezza Rice 
suggests that the apparent turmoil should be understood 
as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East."

     Once upon a time, people who wanted limitless 
government and made trouble around the globe were called 
Communists. Today, of course, they're known as 
conservatives. If that's just semantics, call me 

     Well, as Billy Carter once observed, "There's a heck 
of lot more Arabians than there is Jews." And a lot of 
them are even madder at us than they are at each other.

The Magic Presidency

     Whatever is left of the famous, or alleged, 
Republican "base" got some crumbs of good news this week. 
Each of the two leading GOP presidential hopefuls took a 
moment to express unsuspected reservations about legal 

     Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani let it be 
known that though he still favors "choice," he actually 
disapproves and even "hate[s]" abortion and, as 
president, would appoint justices who would overturn 
Roe v. Wade. We didn't know you felt so strongly, Rudy! 
Please don't let it torment your conscience.

     Of course one could absolutely love abortion, as 
many of Giuliani's liberal supporters do, and still think 
Roe was a gross usurpation of state power and violation 
of constitutional law. One may even suspect his 
sincerity, given the timing and suddenness of this 
revelation. Would he, in the Oval Office, really follow 
through on this? Would he use the "bully pulpit" to 
promote moral passion against killing the unborn? And 
will he make this a major theme of his campaign in 2008 
if he runs against Hillary Clinton, who thinks abortion 
(though an unfortunate, immoral, and difficult decision) 
should be "safe, legal, and rare"?

     Personally, if it comes to a choice between Hillary 
and Rudy, I prefer Hillary.

     Those who are old enough to remember the year 2000, 
when Giuliani was going to run against her for the New 
York Senate seat she now holds until marital scandal, 
prostate cancer, and (as I seem to recall, though I am 
told otherwise by a less senile informant) ominous polls 
caused him to pull out of the race, may also recall that 
he wasn't making a big issue of abortion at the time.

     Well, at least we have a chance to elect another 
Catholic president next year. (Which is why I prefer 
Hillary to Rudy, as in 2004 I slightly preferred 
George W. Bush to the Catholic John Kerry. The last thing 
I want to see is a Catholic president, given the kind of 
Catholics in politics today.)

     Not to be outdone, John McCain, trailing Giuliani in 
the polls and sinking fast, paused from defending the 
Iraq war to announce that he too wants to overturn Roe. 
Or at least believes that someone should overturn it. Or 
something. Anyway, he opposes "legislating from the 
bench" -- not that anyone would admit favoring it. And 
then there is Mitt the Massachusetts Mormon, who, after 
whirling around a few times, also hates abortion. Moral 
leadership is just busting out all over. It sounds as if 
we are being overrun with pro-life candidates.

     If not, if these candidates should turn out to be 
overstating their loathing for feticide in time for the 
primaries (it has been known to happen), will 
conservatives finally split with the Republican Party 
next year? How many of them will repair to the 
Constitution Party, which, whatever may be said against 
it, has never waffled on abortion -- in contrast to all 
the Republicans who want to be judged on their promises 
instead of their records?

     What hasn't changed, and shows no sign of changing, 
is the American idolatry of the Executive Branch -- the 
sure and certain faith that a new president can come to 
the rescue and solve all our problems, even with 
Democrats controlling both houses of the U.S. Congress.

     After all, this is the same country that still 
thinks Abraham Lincoln did away with slavery with a 
stroke of the pen and, according to polls, ranks John 
Kennedy among its greatest presidents. As Robert Higgs of 
The Independent Institute has written in an article 
titled "No More 'Great Presidents,'" Americans now expect 
their presidents to perform "supernatural feats." Who 
says this is an age of skepticism?

The Future of Ill-Bay

     By the way, if Hillary is elected president next 
year, someone will have to be appointed to fill that 
Senate seat. Guess who is being mentioned as her 
replacement? Yes -- don't tell the kids! -- good old 
Ill-bay Inton-clay.

     As you may already know, I'm not joking, though I 
admit I can hardly believe I'm serious. I think this 
would be the first time a senator lived in the White 
House. I have to confess it does appeal to my sense of 
humor, like a favorite sitcom returning to the airwaves 
after a long absence. One more reason to vote for 
Hillary. But can the sequel ever match the original?

The Edwards Question

     Another Oval Office aspirant, John Edwards, has 
refused to fire two staffers with long records of 
anti-Christian and anti-Catholic writings on their blogs. 
In this Age of Sensitivity, these harpies' coarse cracks 
about Catholics, the Virgin Birth, and George Bush's 
"Christofascist base" seem a little over the top, but 
Edwards is satisfied that "it was never their intention 
to malign anyone's faith." George Will, who has his own 
record of anti-Catholic venom (not for nothing is he the 
liberals' favorite conservative), remarks on Edwards's 
"smarmy insincerity."

     Let's skip the etiquette and get to the point: What 
truths is John Edwards willing to affirm? If he doesn't 
believe in God, Christ, the Virgin Birth, or the Catholic 
Church, or if he thinks they don't really matter, his 
behavior makes sense.

                 +          +          +                  

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