The culture war is suddenly all the rage again among the right-wing pundit class, and not for principled reasons but because the polls suggests that the moral issues are winning issues (to tell pollsters that you care about moral values, not economics, is a luxury of the prosperous). But recall 1992 and 1996. When the Dems held the White House, Republican punditry was decrying these Buchananite themes as an albatross that had to be tossed off. Why embrace the culture war one year after having dismissed it in previous years? Power might have something to do with it. In any case,
Ralph Hallow interviews all these reborn culture warriors, who are now urging Bush to be Bush. It’s hard to know what is more disgusting: the sudden turn-on-a-dime rhetorical style or the me-tooism of the rush to link arms with the guy who heads the state:
Conservatives urge Bush to go his own way
By Ralph Z. Hallow and James G. Lakely
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
From the Nation/Politics section
Conservative activists say President Bush should push forward with his second-term mandate ratified by 59 million voters on Election Day, including a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.”
On issues ranging from tax cuts to Social Security to abortion, Republican stalwarts yesterday said the president should stick to his winning campaign agenda, rejecting calls to “reach out” to the Democratic minority in Congress.
“Democrats still don’t get it,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “What they want Bush to do — change the goals he told voters he’d get done if they gave him a second term — isn’t going to happen. Why? Because even more than Reagan, Bush is an agenda president.”
Pat Buchanan yesterday declared Mr. Bush’s re-election — with 22 percent of voters naming moral issues as most important — a victory in the “culture war” that was the subject of Mr. Buchanan’s famous 1992 Republican convention speech.
“George W. Bush was re-elected president because he turned this election into a triumphal, epic battle of the cultural war as his father refused to do in 1992,” said Mr. Buchanan, who challenged the first President Bush in the 1992 Republican primaries. “The son stuck by his party’s platform and themes as his father did not.”
The surprising emphasis on moral issues found in exit polls heartened social conservatives, as did the results from 11 states, including the battleground of Ohio, where bans on same-sex “marriage” were approved by voters.
Robert Knight of the Culture and Family Institute called the success of the marriage amendments a reaction to the Massachusetts court ruling that legalized such unions in Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry’s home state.
“What Bush should do first,” Mr. Knight said, “is to send a bouquet of flowers to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, whose clinically insane ruling against marriage … set the tone for the showdown that occurred [Tuesday].”
A wide array of conservative groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), declared Tuesday’s election a ratification of their positions.
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The NRA said 95 percent of the candidates it backed, including 14 of 18 Senate candidates, were elected. The NRLC cited a poll showing that of the 42 percent of voters who said abortion affected their vote, 56 percent voted for Mr. Bush.
Steven Moore, president of the Club for Growth, cited victories for 14 candidates backed by his group — including six winning Senate candidates who got $2.3 million from Club for Growth members — as proof that “on Capitol Hill, tax cutting is in, big government is out.”
Democrats, however, denied that the election provided the president with any kind of mandate. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said Wednesday that Mr. Bush “didn’t have a case to make on the issues” in his campaign and won by exploiting “wedge issues” that have little relevance to setting a domestic agenda for the country.
But a spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said Tuesday’s Republican gains in both houses of Congress were an outright rejection of the Democratic agenda.
“Republicans gaining seats in the House and Senate for the second cycle in a row and winning the White House for the second presidential election in a row is clear evidence that the voters trust the Republican Party as the governing party of choice,” said DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella. “Democrats would be foolish to insist that Republicans can’t get the job done without them.”
In the wake of Mr. Bush’s re-election, several pundits, commentators and editorials called for the president to seek compromise with congressional Democrats. Gary Bauer, president of the conservative advocacy group American Values, sees a double standard behind such calls for moderation.
“If Senator Kerry had won by 3.5 million votes and had taken five Republican Senate seats with him, no one in the chattering class of Washington, D.C., would be saying anything other than he had a mandate and that conservatives have lost the country,” said Mr. Bauer, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000.
Cooperating with Democrats should not impede the president’s agenda, Mr. Bauer added: “There’s nothing wrong with sitting down and working out details on issues. But the president would be very wise to move ahead on the things he cares about. That’s what the people voted for him to do.”
A senior Republican congressional aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Democrats would be deluding themselves if they think their strong opposition to Mr. Bush — including filibustering his judicial nominees — is going to work any better the next four years.
“They are sending the wrong signal to the president and voters by saying that right after the Republicans win, it’s time to trim their sails and the mandate they sailed in on,” the aide said. “Does anyone believe it feasible that we would embrace a Democratic agenda after we just won all over the country with ours?”
Describing Democrats’ opposition during Mr. Bush’s first term as an “extended temper tantrum,” the aide warned that Democrats could render themselves “politically irrelevant” if they repeat that performance in the president’s second term.
“They lost,” the aide said. “They have to come to grips with that.”