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Jewish World Review Feb. 11, 2002 / 29 Shevat, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings -- President Bush has infuriated pro-abortion activists by suggesting that federal programs designed to provide health care for women and children also supply prenatal care.

He wants to expand the States Children Health Insurance Program to cover children from the time of conception to their 19th birthday. Kim Gandy, head of the National Organization for Women, complains that the rule confers personhood on humans who reside in wombs, rather than nurseries or homes -- and she's right. But in opposing the program, she and other feminists seem to be arguing that the federal government should stop providing prenatal care for poor women.

The further implication is that babies from low-income families shouldn't receive the same level of care as babies born to more affluent moms. This is what happens when people argue that unborn babies are living beings, but aren't human -- and therefore don't have rights.

I mean is this what feminism has become -- a war on the capacity for motherhood, which is what most distinguishes women from men?

The International Olympic Committee decided that American athletes could carry in the Olympic Opening Ceremony a flag found in the ruins of the world trade center.

The IOC originally had rejected the idea as unduly patriotic, but reversed course after Americans responded with volcanic anger.

The reaction shocked the IOC, which is as accustomed to anti-American rhetoric as it is dependent on American dollars. The Los Angeles Times this week published a scathing account of the back-biting, after poring over the minutes of years worth of official IOC meetings. The juiciest quote came from Jacques Rogge, now IOC president, when he encouraged his predecessor, not to visit Congress to explain corruption charges.

Quoting Jean de la Fontaine: "The spittle of toads never reaches the light of the stars." Rogge claims he meant no offense. He's says not a dimwit. He's a diplomat. Maybe so, but a smart statesman never would have denied permission to let the WTC flag fly, tattered but proud, in Salt Lake City.

Some of our allies have expressed public displeasure with President Bush's depiction of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an axis of evil. They say they're shocked, shocked the president would speak so coarsely.

There's a presumption in diplomatic circles that a prim lie is always preferable to an unvarnished truth. While it makes sense to compliment a princess who arrives at a reception arrayed in an outfit that would make a circus clown howl, times of conflict and war demand plainspoken truth.

Ronald Reagan offended the foreign policy establishment when he called the Soviet Union the Evil Empire. But he was right, and his defiance made it clear that he meant business.

Within five years, the Soviet Union was history. So here we go again: A president has used the stark, descriptive term "evil" to describe states that export murder and target innocents. If this offends tender ears, tough.

Better to ruffle a few feathers than to give terrorists the impression that we don't mean to complete and win this fight.

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