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Jewish World Review Nov. 8, 2004/ 25 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

Suzanne Fields

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Slouching toward Canada | That enormous cloud of dust on the horizon is being kicked up by the long line of celebrity limousines slouching toward Canada. Alec Baldwin, whose plane has been idling on the runway for four years, can take off for Europe now, as he threatened to do if George W. Bush defeated Al Gore four years ago. This time there's no ambiguity to take refuge in, and he is at last free to leave.

Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Middler and lots of others who sang for their supper at Kerry rallies in hopes of invitations to dinner at the White House can go back now to doing what they do best, actually entertaining us.

The Europeans, who took their tutelage in American politics from Michael Moore and Jon Stewart, might even think about being nice to the man they derided as a moron with the IQ of a carrot. The war against terror is serious business.

Michel Barnier, the French foreign minister, watching the tide turn on election night, called the result, as incredible as it is, an opportunity to work again with Washington: "We have many things to do, both on the current crises - in Iraq, the Middle East, Iran, the fate of the African continent - and to renovate the transatlantic relationship." Let's all hope.

The biggest losers of all are the wise guys of the media, who turned their front pages and cameras over to the task of ridding the world of George W. They forgot that their readers and viewers could, and would, find alternative sources of news. The elephants in their own parlors were "the guys in pajamas," the Internet bloggers who exposed the "fake but accurate" (in the famous New York Times formulation) Rather papers about the president's long ago service in the Texas Air National Guard. The pollsters who snookered themselves, all but calling the election for the senator at midafternoon on Election Day, will be trying to get the egg out of their beards for weeks.

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The bicoastal intellectual elites are miserable, too. The New Yorker, which published its first presidential endorsement, can go back now to the culture. The Nation magazine, speaking of the culture wars, tried to make the election campaign a class war, reprising the words of Joe Hill, the labor organizer, who, before being executed by a Utah firing squad in 1915, cried out: "Don't mourn, organize!"

Evangelical Christians, once described by The Washington Post as "poor, uneducated and easily led," can celebrate being not so poor, smart, and leading the way to victory. President Bush won three-fourths of the white, born-again Christians who are now one of every five American voters. More than half of the Bush voters said "moral issues" were most important to them.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court galvanized these evangelical Christians with its endorsement of same-sex marriage, which led to 11 states across the breadth of the country amending their state constitutions to define marriage as exclusively a rite binding man to woman.

Many pundits define the culture wars as a war between religious people vs. secularists. This misses the point. The culture wars are about the values of common sense that underwrite traditions that have undergirded Judeo-Christian moral codes for centuries. The culture wars are about how we raise our children, what the schools teach them, how we teach them what's right and what's wrong.

The marriage amendments, after all, merely attempt to protect the tried and true status quo. The culture wars are about how the political culture reinforces, or contradicts, the popular culture. The voters understood that this week and the elites didn't.

Pundits are puzzled that the president could win such a ringing vote against all their advice. The voters were not puzzled at all. Voters told the exit pollsters that the president says what he believes and believes what he says, and John Kerry says what he thinks the voters in front of him want to hear. They determined that this is no time to choose a commander-in-chief who can't make up his mind about the war in Iraq, nor the time (if there ever is such a time) to ask an American soldier to die for "a mistake."

The senator was gracious in defeat and the president was generous in victory. In the end, the choice voters made was not difficult at all, and the result, as always, reflected the judgment in that vast reservoir of American common sense.

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