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Jewish World Review Oct. 18, 2000 / 19 Tishrei 5761

Don Feder

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Gutless conservatives not glorified

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- NO GUTS, no glory -- and not much of either on the right these days.

Syndicated talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger is great at telling her callers to stand up for their principles. But under pressure from homosexual activists, the doctor found it impossible to defend her own. In a full-page ad in Variety, Schlessinger abjectly apologized for once calling homosexuality "deviant."

"In talking about gays and lesbians, some of my words were poorly chosen," Schlessinger confessed. "I deeply regret the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community." Activists in that community do not regret their jackboot tactics in trying to crush dissent, however.

What Schlessinger probably regrets the most is the advertising boycott the movement has launched against her radio and TV shows. (It's succeeding due to the gutlessness corporate America.) Her apology was rejected by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which complained that she hadn't groveled sufficiently.

Then there's George W. Bush, who promises to return integrity to the White House.

In the second presidential debate, he somehow mustered the courage to oppose gay marriage ("I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman"), then proceeded to spend five minutes apologizing for his stand.

("I'm going to be respectful for people who may disagree with me. ... I've been called a uniter. ... I, I, I will be a tolerant person.")

Couldn't he just have said: "Look, this is wrong. In the name of diversity, you can't repeal the laws of nature. That sodomy is no longer a felony does not make it a family value."

This isn't the only place where Republicans regularly impersonate rabbits. Immigration, racial quotas, abortion -- almost any issue where they could be accused of insensitivity sends them diving for cover.

We've become so obsessed with the baubles of victory that we're blinded to the ultimate goal of changing society. A friend in Washington, D.C., confided that in her conversations with Republican congressmen over a year ago, she was bluntly told that they didn't care what Bush believed -- or if he believed anything -- all that mattered was winning the White House.

This is what that pragmatism got them. In the first debate, the governor said he'd do nothing to reverse the Food And Drug Administration's approval of the RU-486 abortion pill, making a mockery of his professed pro-life stand. In the second, he begged forgiveness for a position that 70 percent of the public considers common sense.

The governor can't sneeze without consulting a focus group. The public says it doesn't like negative campaigning, so Bush refuses to criticize the corruption and criminality of the Clinton years.

If Bush wins, Republicans will be convinced that this is the key to victory -- fleeing their principles, running on sunshine and trying to out-Clinton Clinton when it comes to emoting. A smile-button will become the party's new mascot and "have a nice day" its slogan.

I may not agree with all of their positions, but it's refreshing to have Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader and Libertarian Harry Browne in the race -- guys who aren't afraid to stand for something.

In California, Pat is running a TV ad where a man begins choking on his dinner when he hears that the government is moving to strip English of its official status. He dials 911. While a recording goes through a list of language choices, he expires.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Bush to take a position on official English.

Buchanan is having a grand old time campaigning on issues that have Republicans cowering. On the abortion pill, a Buchanan radio spot observes, "Friends, this pill is a human insecticide."

Another compliments Vermonters for seeking to overturn the state's civil unions law, "In the struggle ... between decency and decadence, you have shown that defeats are not irreversible."

Dr. Laura advises callers to sacrifice for their families, then caves to greatest threat families face. (What price a TV show?) Bush begs us not to hate him for believing in something the elite despises.

How can the public choose sides, when one side has nothing left to surrender? Not until the right is prepared to lose on principles will we ever hope to win this culture war on which the survival of our nation depends.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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