W. Isn't For Wobbly

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The
clack of the keyboard from parts of the Right has been registered.
George Bush has gone squishy and turned bipartisan.

O
ye of little faith – and understanding.

True,
a constitutional counter-revolution will not sweep the land come
2001. After eight years of Bill, his shills and flacks in the press,
and the caliber of what public education is turning out, I’m thankful,
if not amazed, that any Republican could be elected president in
these dark days. There’s room for hope when the Man from Hope’s
appointed successor is looking for a job and W. is preparing to
step into the Oval Office.

That
W doesn’t stand for wobbly. Bush has demonstrated a much stiffer
backbone than I’ve come to expect from many GOP politicians during
the Clinton regime.

Bush
has faced the hostility of the media from day one, but he didn’t
cave. The media despise him so much that they gave legs to the John
McCain presidential bid. They said over and over that Bush, the
hand-picked candidate of the GOP establishment, couldn’t beat this
political maverick of the people who attracted Democrat and Independent
voters, who reached out beyond the Republican base. Bush didn’t
panic. He stayed the course and won.

As
for the campaign against Gore, I have only one complaint. A national
TV campaign should have been aired from sea to shining sea citing
chapter and verse what Al Gore wrote in Earth in the Balance and
that Gore said he stood by every word of it. While I wish Bush would
have stuck the knife in the Alpha Male’s political side and given
it a few turns for good measure, I was struck time and again about
how resilient Bush was in the face of the media and Gore’s attacks.
Bush stood his ground, and he didn’t think he could make either
the media or the Gore campaign like him or say nice things about
him. He had their number. A bunch of major league . . .

My
respect for Bush, already high, grew after the November election
and Gore commenced his coup attempt. So many Republican conservatives
and libertarians despaired that Gore was going to steal the election
and that Bush wouldn’t be able to find a way to stop him. After
eight years when Clinton, seemingly in preternatural fashion, emerged
unscathed from scandal after scandal and scored high public approval
marks in the process, many on the Right came to think it couldn’t
win against Bill’s gang.

Bush
didn’t buy this defeatist attitude. The Democrats, especially the
Gore camp, thought the governor would fold like the Senate when
it faced Clinton’s impeachment. Instead, he dispatched his advisers
and didn’t go wobbly. The Democrats believed they could steal the
election through the courts and canvassing boards. Understanding
that politics the way the Democrats conduct it is akin to war, Bush
took the legal fight to the US Supreme Court twice-even in the wake
of what the media threw at him on a daily basis. When the high court
ruled that night I thought Dan Rather was going to lose it. It was
a beautiful moment I won’t soon forget.

Since
his speech in the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives,
Bush has used the word bipartisanship with great frequency. He’s
promised to reach out and work with the Democrats. All this talk
makes many on the Right nervous. I, for one, never have liked the
smell of the word bipartisan. But Bush can go on and on about it
for a simple reason: he won and the GOP controls, however slimly,
the House and the Senate. He understands the word is like a bucket
and can be filled with anything-including his conservative agenda.
For years the Democrats have called for bipartisanship, which always
means adopting their plans. The tables are about to be turned. He’ll
reach out to the more moderate Democrats, but it will be to invite
and entice them down his road.

Some
GOP leaders in the House (Speaker Dennis Hastert and Rep. Mark Foley,
for instance) have said publicly Bush shouldn’t push for his tax
cut package as one big item. Bush has let them know the tax cut
is not negotiable and that it will come up for a vote.

Granted,
the president-elect is no, say, Goldwater from the days before AuH2O’s
political ham radio started picking up echoes. But on so many issues,
Bush is on the side of the angels. Taxes is one them. Tax cuts provide
a telling fault line of American politics between the tax eaters
and the wealth creators. Whose money is it? The State’s? Or the
citizens who earned it? That’s why the very mention of tax cuts
makes statists in the press and the halls of power hyperventilate.
Not responsible. Not necessary. No one wants them. Translation:
the serfs might awake if this keeps up.

The
pressure on Bush is immense. So is the temptation-especially considering
some GOP comment in the Congress. The media would smile on him and
the Democrats would make pleasant noises, if he were to give up
his tax cut package in a fit of bipartisanship (as they define that
term). Bush realizes it’s a trap. He must remember that his presidential
father took the bait and went back on his no-new-taxes pledge. It
was no time before the liberals set the hook and reeled him in,
thus allowing the bottom-feeder from Arkansas to swim into the top
spot.

W.’s
backbone is in fine shape. Leftists won’t run roughshod over his
administration. They’re going to take some hits.

December
23, 2000

R.
Andrew Newman is a writer whose work has appeared in such places
as Modern Age and The Social Critic.

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