On Sept. 1, to my surprise, I read an essay by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman. The surprise was not due to reading it or (much) to what it said but, rather, where it appeared.
The essay, "The Courage to Speak Bluntly," was part paean to the courage of Navarro-Valls' boss, Pope John Paul II, part foaming at the pen about homosexuality and mostly, by intention, an argument for the Vatican's obstructionist tactics at the U.N. Conference on Population and Development.
Leaving aside the sycophancy and frothing, translating Vatican Gothic into English and footnoting where appropriate, I generally agree with Navarro-Valls, whom The Wall Street Journal editorial page addresses as "Dr."
And that is, indeed, where I read it. Which automatically raises the question: Why should I agree at all?
The Journal's editorial page, presided over by one Robert W. Bartley, is the spokespage for one wing of the conservative movement of the Republican Party. It is just as faithful to its sponsors as Navarro-Valls is to his. In uneasy coexistence with reality and the news sections of its own newspaper, the editorial page pounds the drums for the proposition that those who have much should have it all and those who have little should give it to those who have much.
The editorialists oppose taxes not only because they take from the rich but because they reduce the amount the poor have left to turn over to the rich. They oppose regulation because it interferes with the natural flow of money upward. They oppose government programs because the poor might get something from them. I am a regular reader.
Material written for the page to accompany their well-crafted editorials usually, but not always, supports their position. Economist Herbert Stern is permitted to write things that one wishes Mr. Bartley would take to heart. But more typical is the piece that occupied the space before Navarro-Valls used it. Admitted, convicted and pardoned liar Elliot Abrams on Aug. 31 outlined his proposals for U.S. aggression against Cuba.
I feel pretty aggressive against Fidel Castro myself, but not because he failed to read Milton Friedman.
The Journal's editorialists' objections to the U.N. population conference are that: (a) Democrats are illicitly determining the U.S. position; (b) it smacks of social engineering; and (c) the United Nations is holding it. The Vatican's different objections are prolixly stated by Navarro-Valls.…