A Counter-Reformation for Pols on the Right

Article excerpt

Byline: Frank Keating, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

There's a haunting similarity between modern conservatives and 16th-century Catholics. We both screwed up. I'm both a conservative and a Catholic. So I hope that I can avoid the libel label. But it's true. We really botched it. The Renaissance papacy, palaces, triple tiaras, the high life, ermine trim to clerical robes and the sale of indulgences. It was not the next world. It was the underworld. Too much Borgia rendering to Caesar. Too little Wojtilla rendering to God.

The Protestant Reformation that followed rewrote history. It remade the face of Christendom and created a kaleidoscope of faith communities of frequent snapping and sniping rivalries.

In some instances, it really got grim. Could you imagine living in John Calvin's Geneva? Or the Massachusetts Bay Colony? Lord, we Catholics must have been naughty. The revulsion to our excess brought the banning of drinking. And dancing. And singing. And gambling. And bright clothing and stage plays. And a whole other assortment of wickedness and tawdriness that would make modern Las Vegans stay indoors.

Many Europeans concluded that Catholic bad behavior deserved not just a healthy scrubbing but the throwing out of the baby with the bath water - and the tub, sink, soap, towels and every other soiled accoutrement associated with the baby.

We conservatives abandoned our Scripture. We long stood for low taxes, less government, reasonable regulation, a strong national defense and noninterference in the affairs of other nations, unless our security was first at risk.

We stood for federalism, problem solving, politics as sacrifice and a duty of citizenship. We believed that the best government enables and protects a level playing field and permits and expects its citizens to make it on their own. No quotas, set-asides, favoritism, artificialities, excuses.

No bureaucrat as coach, public schools that work and assure the maintenance of a classless society. Strong families, traditional marriage, a righteous regard for the value of every human life, respect for the military as the defender of freedom.

The party of Abraham Lincoln and emancipation believes in the strength of a Joseph's Cloak society. E Pluribus Unum. A Norman Rockwell America of many different hues.

Conservatives won elections because we won hearts and minds. We believed in something. Policy and solid middle American policy prescriptions drove politics. Politics should never drive policy. Conservatives knew that politics would always catch up to the right policy.

We were not the Weather Vane party. It was the theology, stupid. If you stand for something, you won't get knocked down at the next election. You will win the next election.

Good men and women were called to service during the past eight years, as they are in all administrations at all times. …