Jewish World Review July 30, 1999 /17 Av 5759
Taking Dan Quayle at his book value
ONE CANDIDATE IS the son of a former president --- the other, the father's vice president.
Their campaigns could not be more dissimilar. One flies below the radar; the other flies
his colors his openly.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush promises to tell us what he really thinks about the pressing
issues of the day . . . in his first State of the Union address.
Bush is pro-life - don't ask him to elaborate - but opposes a "litmus test'' for judicial
nominees. (Another GOP presidential contender, Steve Forbes, says, "Litmus test is
Washington-speak for principle.'')
At first, Bush tried to ignore NATO's war on Yugoslavia. When pressed, he said he
thought we were doing "the right thing'' - but he'll get back to us after he consults his
consultants and checks the focus groups.
The front-runner's issues aversion makes Dan Quayle's new book, Worth Fighting
For,''" all the more significant. Quayle has produced a candid, thoughtful work that makes
his presidential candidacy an open book.
The former vice president starts with a basic premise - the next election will be about
values. ("We must reclaim the values of faith in God, integrity, responsibility, courage,
thrift and industry.'') In other words, we must embrace those virtues Bill Clinton does
In assessing Supreme Court nominees, Quayle says he'd ask the obvious question:
Where do you stand on Roe vs. Wade? A jurist who doesn't understand that Roe is
"an exercise of raw judicial power'' won't share his judicial philosophy (does Bush have
one?), Quayle comments.
On foreign policy, the book is equally astute. Clinton and Gore "have not pursued a
foreign policy in any meaningful sense. . . . Foreign policy has pursued them.'' Their
initiatives are animated by "petulance toward some and posturing toward others.''
Quayle correctly rejects the labels "isolationist'' and "interventionist'' as outmoded and
Instead, he believes U.S. foreign policy should be guided by certain principles: defense
of the American homeland, protecting the Americas, "engagement abroad to protect
vital U.S. interests,'' American credibility (which should never be confused "with the
credibility of NATO or the United Nations'') and support for democracy and human
The last is not to say that Quayle favors humanitarian interventions. Instead, "we can
provide material aid and, if need be, military supplies to groups fighting against brutal
oppression - in Sudan, for example.'' At the same time, the former vice president indicts a
foreign-policy elite that believes the only way America can show leadership is by
In this regard, Haiti was an "adventure'' far removed from security concerns. In Kosovo,
"we stumbled badly by making ourselves a party to a civil war.''
A chapter is devoted to China, Clinton's premier foreign-policy fumble. Though he
doesn't perceive China as the enemy, "neither is it a `strategic partner,' '' a term implying
"common values and similar goals.''
Rather, the People's Republic is ruled by confident and committed nationalists, and not
a few communists, who are "assertive and aggressive in the wake of some profound
changes around the world.''
Quayle notes that by every measure, conditions in China and our relationship with
Beijing have worsened during the Clinton years - human rights abuses, proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, aggressive moves toward Taiwan and espionage.
Clinton's response has been to kowtow as furiously as a second concubine before an
irate mandarin - decoupling trade and human rights, playing the regime's patsy with his
speech in Tiananmen Square last year, and becoming the first American president to
parrot Beijing's "three noes'' regarding Taiwan.
As Quayle observes, a bad domestic agenda is much easier to fix than a dangerous
foreign policy. The former's effects are temporary; the latter usually leads to the loss of
Even where he's wrong, the vice president manages to get it mostly right. His outlook
on immigration is overly optimistic. (He's thinking of the immigration of the 1890s, not
the 1990s.) Still, Quayle stresses the need to control our borders and calls on us to
rededicate ourselves to the process of Americanization.
Read "Worth Fighting For''and you'll know exactly where Dan Quayle stands. One
eagerly awaits Gov. Bush's campaign manifesto. No, not the one he scribbled on a
matchbook cover between sessions with his
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder can be reached by clicking here.
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©1999, Creators Syndicate