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The Culture Wars

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—With all eyes on the upcoming election
in Iraq, the right-wing politicos here are buckling
down for a hard slog ahead in the culture wars. This
morning the right was dissecting the views of Hillary
Clinton, whom they hate above all others, and whom
they both hope and fear will be the Democratic
candidate next time around. Hillary has alarmed
conservatives by appearing to move toward their own
positions on certain cultural matters, decrying, for
example, abortion as “sad, even tragic,” which they take
as a signal that the Democratic Party will now move to the
center-right on the issue in an effort to start building a
conservative culture-base. She also has raised
eyebrows with kind words for religion, and for taking
a tough position against illegal aliens.

“I think what we’re seeing is, at least
rhetorically, the attempt of the ultimate makeover,”
Gary Bauer, president of the American Values
organization and a former Republican candidate
for president, told The Washington Times. “She clearly wants to sit in the Oval Office. She’s a bright lady, and I think she watched her party throw
everything, including the kitchen sink, at the
president and still lose. She’s made her own
calculation that values in the broadest sense of the
word was the reason for that loss.”

The week began nicely with the president taking a good swat at
Roe v. Wade on Monday. He said he would support legislation requiring
abortion doctors to inform every patient with an unborn child at
least 20 weeks old of the possible pain the child might suffer
and offer anethesia. He also said he would support legislation
banning adults from helping pregnant teens cross state
lines to get an abortion. “The America of our dreams, where
every child is welcomed . . . in life and protected in
law, may still be some ways away,” Bush said in a phone
call to March
for Life prez Nellie Gray.”But even
from the far side of the river, Nellie, we can see its
glimmerings.”

He complimented the pro-lifers for being nice and
polite while “engaged in one of America’s most
contentious issues.” He said, “A true culture of life
cannot be sustained solely by changing laws. We
need, most of all, to change hearts.”

The politicians view this last statement as evidence of Bush’s
reluctance to go at Roe v. Wade head on. Instead he
will follow the “incremental” course, biding his time
until four Supreme Court justices retire or die,
giving him the opportunity to change the court to his
liking, and then, perhaps, tackle the 1973 ruling. In the meantime, he will keep picking at abortion
with laws and regulations wherever and whenever he gets the chance.

During his first term, Bush signed the partial-birth
abortion ban, which gave unborn fetuses victim status equal to those who
are injured or killed in violent crimes. He curtailed
federal funding for stem cell research. Bush also
supported his brother Jeb, governor of Florida, for
stopping the removal of a feeding tube from Terri
Schiavo, the Florida woman who has long been in a
coma. A Florida court overturned the governor’s ban
earlier this week.

Bush’s slackened pace on banning abortion and pushing
other Christian values has made some on the right
rebellious. Hearing the president’s go-slow remarks
Monday, pro-life activist Stephen Peroutka told The
Washington Times
, “That’s a tough thing to say to
4,000 babies who will be aborted tomorrow—that this is
not the right time to outlaw abortion. When is the
right time—when public opinion polls say it’s the
right time?” Other traditional-values advocates are
peeved with the president for backing off
the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Claiming he
doesn’t have the votes for passage is giving up too
easily according to Sadie Fields, president of the
Georgia Christian Coalition. She wants Bush to quit
pussyfooting, call down the Republican senate
leaders, and tell them, “This is something I want, and
you set about to make sure that happens.”

“Nothing is more threatening to the foundation of
our country than the radical homosexual agenda and its
assault on marriage and the family,” said Fields.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council,
was also critical of the president and has joined
Paul Weyerich, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell—all
members of the religious-right coalition known as the Arlington Group—in writing a letter to
Karl Rove complaining that same-sex marriage is a
winning issue, and that moving away from it narrows his
base of support.

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