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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

August 4, 2003

Another Pimental Patrol

Arizona Republic columnist O. Ricardo Pimental revealed in a recent mini-editorial that he does not understand basic conservative philosophy. As a liberal columnist, he has a duty to faithfully state his ideological opponent's beliefs, to promote honest and open debate.

Here's the complete editorial

I guess I should appreciate Sen. Jon Kyl's efforts to protect us from gay marriage. You know, it's right up there with terrorism and the economy as a pressing national problem. Funny thing, though. I'm not feeling threatened at all by gays or gay marriage. Tell me again: How can a renowned conservative justify government intrusion into marriage?

He's referring to a policy statement from the Senate Republican Policy Committee, headed by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl. It was a strategy outlining the best way to deal with gay marriage, should the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalize gay marriage in a ruling expected any time now.

Let's first review some conservative principles. Most conservatives believe in preserving and defending institutions that have benefited America in particular and society in general. These institutions are usually time-honored traditions that promote liberty, security, and well-being. 

Marriage between a man and a woman is one such institution. It is the basic building block of society, the ideal method of raising children, and derives huge benefits for men and women. For over two thousand years, governments and societies have recognized this by promoting marriage through the law. 

As such, conservatives seek to defend marriage from those who would weaken it. Conservatives have battled government welfare, no-fault divorce, gay marriage, and a host of other issues, mainly, but not solely, because these laws weaken the family and marriage as institutions. 

Keeping this in mind, let's break down Pimental's little editorial. 

First, he belittles the importance of the gay marriage issue. Many, if not most, conservatives believe that allowing gays to marry would mean the end of marriage as a functional, viable, beneficial, and legal institution. Pimental obviously disagrees, but he needs to make his own case why gay marriage would have no effect (or at least no harmful effects) on marriage. He can't just wish the issue away with glib remarks and pretend there's no argument. Maybe he's not pretending there's no argument. Maybe he's not aware the arguments are even out there.

He then says he doesn't "feel threatened" by gay marriage. I can't think of a polite way to say this, so here goes. Mr. Pimental, how gay marriage makes you "feel" does not matter. Gay marriage will have an impact on the institution of marriage, regardless of your feelings. Gay marriage may not threaten individual marriages, the same as high divorce rates do not threaten individual marriages, but conservatives believe it does threaten marriage itself, as do high divorce rates. I doubt that Mr. Pimental is incapable of seeing this distinction, but it's not clear in his writing that he does see it. 

Finally, the crux of the matter. "How can a renowned conservative justify government intrusion into marriage?"

This statement is not only ignorant of the conservative case against gay marriage, it's ignorant of the actual facts of the issue. Again, conservatives believe in defending institutions beneficial to liberty and society. Defending these institutions presupposes they are under assault. Often, government itself is the instigator, but not always. In this case, one court in Massachusetts could very well impose gay marriage on the rest of the country. It is one tiny part of a state government that is intruding on marriage, Mr. Pimental. Conservatives seek to stop that intrusion and ask another part of the federal government to codify what it has clearly supported in law since the beginning of this country: marriage is between a man and a woman.

Apparently, Mr. Pimental is too interested in playing gotcha and making conservatives look like hypocrites to see the truth. It's hard to understand that a paid columnist could be so ignorant of his opponent's ideas. He's either well aware and choosing to mislead his readers, or he has no desire or inclination to educate himself.

And Another Thing

Yesterday's column was a snarky, underhanded attempt to accuse President Dubya of manipulating intelligence information for political benefit. Naturally, Mr. Pimental never comes out and says so, but his implication is clear.

His theory is that President Dubya somehow knew the press would concentrate on the redacted 28 pages from the recently released congressional report that examined the intelligence shortcomings before the September 11 attacks. By focusing on the Saudi Arabia issue, the press is giving the administration a free pass on the intelligence failures that allowed 9/11 to happen. Somehow, President Dubya, who liberals still believe is dumb as a post, engineered all this. 

I suppose Pimental's little theory is possible, but highly unlikely. Pimental cites Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who just happens to be running for president, as saying that the report contains no classified information. Pimental admits Graham may be a bit biased, then says that "it's difficult to believe that a presidential candidate with intelligence experience would be willing to sacrifice national security."

Mr. Pimental is too blinded by partisanship to realize that this applies also to President Dubya. After all, the president is also a presidential candidate, and it's equally hard to believe that a sitting president running for reelection would sacrifice national security. That's not much of a vote-getter.

Mr. Pimental also makes a classic media mistake. He assumes that because the media is concentrating on those 28 pages, the government is also, and thus important work to correct intelligence problems is not getting done. It's safe to say that even now, as you read this, civil servants, government bureaucrats, intelligence officials, administration officials, congressional aides and their bosses are working to solve those problems. Just because the media isn't reporting it doesn't mean it's not happening. Besides, another terrorist attack would hurt President Dubya's reelection chances, so he is highly motivated to prevent one.

If Mr. Pimental believes that President Dubya is conspiring to keep important information from the American people for his own benefit, then he needs to say so and provide evidence to make his case. In the meantime, he's just blowing hot air in a groundless attempt to weaken President Dubya's credibility.

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