October 10, 2004


The Right Nation (George Will, October 10, 2004, Townhall)

Conservatism's 40-year climb to dominance receives an examination worthy of its complexity in The Right Nation, the best political book in years. Its British authors, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist, demonstrate that conservative power derives from two sources -- its congruence with American values, especially the nation's anomalous religiosity, and the elaborate infrastructure of think tanks and other institutions that stresses that congruence. [...]

Micklethwait and Wooldridge endorse Sir Lewis Namier's doctrine: ``What matters most about political ideas is the underlying emotions, the music to which ideas are a mere libretto, often of very inferior quality.'' The emotions underlying conservatism's long rise include a visceral individualism with religious roots and anti-statist consequences.

Europe, post-religious and statist, is puzzled -- and alarmed -- by a nation where grace is said at half the family dinner tables. But religiosity, say Micklethwait and Wooldridge, ``predisposes Americans to see the world in terms of individual virtue rather than in terms of the vast social forces that so preoccupy Europeans.'' And: ``The percentage of Americans who believe that success is determined by forces outside their control has fallen from 41 percent in 1988 to 32 percent today; by contrast, the percentage of Germans who believe it has risen from 59 percent in 1991 to 68 percent today.'' In America, conservatives much more than liberals reject the presumption of individual vulnerability and incompetence that gives rise to liberal statism.

Conservatism rose in the aftermath of Johnson's Great Society, but skepticism about government is in the nation's genetic code. Micklethwait and Wooldridge note that in September 1935, during the Depression, Gallup polling found that twice as many Americans said FDR's administration was spending too much than said it was spending the right amount, and barely one person in 10 said it was spending too little.

After FDR's 1936 re-election, half of all Democrats polled said they wanted FDR's second term to be more conservative. Only 19 percent wanted it more liberal.

Just in case you were wondering why John Kerry was mewling last night that labels don't matter.

The Rise of the Values Voter: The political megatrend nobody wants to talk about (Jeffrey Bell & Frank Cannon, 10/11/2004, Weekly Standard)

The proportion of voters who say they are keying their vote on "moral values issues like gay marriage and abortion" has gone up sharply--to a level of 15 to 18 percent, according to five national polls commissioned by Time and conducted by Schulman, Ronca, and Bucuvalas since July. More important, the profile of such voters is no longer definable in the vocabulary of polarization and divisiveness. The most recent Time poll (taken September 21-23) has George W. Bush winning socially driven voters by a lopsided 70 to 18 percent. If not for these voters, according to the poll, Bush would be trailing John Kerry by 5 points

instead of leading by 4.

These numbers would be striking enough if the only available data concerned the national popular vote. But as MSNBC's mid-September polls in 10 pivotal states in the Electoral College make clear, the GOP advantage on social issues is even more salient in the struggle for the handful of states both sides agree will determine the presidential outcome.

MSNBC's survey firm, Mason Dixon Polling & Research, offered "Moral Issues and Family Values" as one of the options on the question, "Which one of the following issues will be most important in determining your vote for President this year?" Anywhere from 12 percent (Pennsylvania) to 16 percent (Missouri) made this selection. Bush's lead over Kerry among these voters ranged from not quite 8-1 in Oregon to more than 10-1 in Ohio and more than 12-1 in Missouri. Unlike many past polls on social issues, there was no significant regional pattern. Eastern swing states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and western states like Arizona and Oregon were just as likely to favor Bush overwhelmingly on moral and family issues as were heartland states. (No southern states were among the 10 polled by MSNBC.)

In every state where Bush led (8 of the 10), his "moral issues and family values" margin was more than his overall lead. In other words, in the 8 Bush-leaning swing states, Bush trailed Kerry on all other issues combined. In fact, in only one other issue offered by MSNBC, "Terrorism and Homeland Security," did Bush have a clear lead over Kerry. [...]

Why has the social-issue cluster become so much more favorable to Republicans all over the country? Part of the reason is a gradual voter trend on abortion. After trailing roughly 3-2 in the early 1990s, pro-lifers pulled even with pro-choicers in the late 1990s and may enjoy a small but growing advantage among all voters today. This trend has coincided with the prominence of the often graphic debate over partial-birth abortion. What is undeniable is that Democratic candidates at all levels of politics have become markedly less inclined to talk about abortion rights.

The biggest social-issue event in the past year or two, of course, has been the acceleration of the drive for same-sex marriage and its court-imposed advent in Massachusetts. Because there has been little polling on the relation of same-sex marriage to presidential voting (only the Time national polls seem to have thought to test it), a large share of any speculation is bound to be circumstantial. But it did seem that the July referendum on same-sex marriage in Missouri marked a turning point in the Bush-Kerry matchup there--the Kerry campaign soon afterward pulled its advertising--and that a widely reported controversy over putting a prohibition on gay marriage on Ohio's November ballot coincided with an underperformance by Kerry in a state that has experienced a weak economy during the Bush years.

Bob Schieffer can go a long way toward determining the outcome of the third debate just by how thoroughly he questions Senator Kerry on a series of positions where his professed Catholic morality is at odds with his politically expedient amorality.

For instance, ask him about this, Blood Brothers: Why the leading practitioners of late abortion wrote checks to Kerry. (Douglas Johnson, 10/11/2004, Weekly Standard)

MARTIN HASKELL, George Tiller, and Warren Hern have several things in common. All three are abortionists who specialize in late abortions. Haskell's name is closely linked with the partial-birth abortion method. Tiller and Hern may be the only two abortionists in the United States who openly advertise their willingness to perform third-trimester abortions.

Finally, all three men have opened their checkbooks to support Senator John Kerry's bid to be president of the United States. Their contributions to Kerry's campaign total $7,000. [...]

DR. MARTIN HASKELL wrote the Kerry for President campaign a check for $2,000, recorded June 30, 2004. Haskell, based in Ohio, owns three abortion clinics, all called Women's Med Center (http://www.womensmedcenter.com). In 1992 Haskell published a paper describing how to perform what he called "dilation and extraction." Circulation of this paper led to introduction of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act by congressman Charles Canady, a Florida Republican, in 1995.

Brenda Pratt Shafer, a nurse who worked briefly at one of Haskell's clinics, witnessed close up the partial-birth abortion of a baby boy who she said was at 26 and a half weeks.

"I stood at the doctor's side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant," Shafer related. "The baby's heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the baby's body and arms, everything but his little head. The baby's body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet.

"The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby's head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. Then the doctor opened the scissors up. Then he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen."

Haskell wrote that he used this method on all of his clients from 20 through 24 weeks, unless they had certain health problems, and on "selected" clients through 26 weeks. He told American Medical News that 80 percent of his late abortions were "purely elective." The head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers admitted to the New York Times in 1997 that the method is used thousands of times annually, and that "in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 10, 2004 9:55 AM

And the left complains about violence?

The Dmeocratic Party had beeter prepare for a deliverer who opposes all abortion - because no one else can save them.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 11, 2004 12:22 PM