Magazine article Insight on the News

Conservative Right May Not Have Their Man in Bush

Magazine article Insight on the News

Conservative Right May Not Have Their Man in Bush

Article excerpt

Will the election of George W. Bush benefit the political right -- meaning those who view with anxiety or displeasure the growth of a highly centralized American welfare state which, among its other tasks, has been used to reform social attitudes? Whether one dislikes this development for constitutional or moral-religious reasons, it is the right that stands opposed to it. Members of the right also hope to return as much as humanly possible to the regime created by the framers and favor a concept of the American people based on strong, God-fearing families. The right thus should expect very little from Bush, although it may be grateful that the effect of his election has been to keep the presidency from someone worse.

True, Bush would not reach as far to the left as Al Gore would have done in coming up with three Supreme Court nominations he probably will have to make in the next four years. Furthermore, Bush showed himself in the debates to be opposed to Gore's global-interventionist scheme of "nation-building," even if his reasons were not coherently stated.

The plain, unhappy fact remains that the right should not count on him as a soul mate. Bush campaigned for president while leaning generally left-ward, at least in his battle against Gore. The fact that Bush was counting on "conservative" support -- while appealing to constituents on the left as well as in the center -- and that he had to forfeit so little to right-wing candidates will not be lost on him or his advisers. Right-wing support comes cheap, or so Bush has every right to believe after this election. By pointing to the danger of a Democratic victory, having neoconservative columnists George Will, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer proclaim the Republican candidate a centrist conservative, and having his staff give Bush's pronouncements a special twist in addressing particular audiences, Bush could carry his water in return for pitiably little.

The keystone of his campaign was to have the federal government oversee American education, though Bush hedged his bets by making rhetorical references to parental choice. His appeal to vouchers should also worry the right: It will enhance state and federal control over once-private education by making available public money with strings attached.

Bush has deplored abortions (so have Clinton and Gore) but has not even tiptoed in the direction of explaining that Roe v. Wade is an act of judicial usurpation. In any case, that fateful decision already has been overthrown from the left -- a point Republican politicians ignore -- as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision denying the Nebraska Legislature the right to ban late-term abortions. …

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