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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

November 17,  2002

What Happens Next?

The voters have given Republicans control of the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. What will the GOP do with it?

I'm not in the prediction business, but I am certain of one fact. Whatever President Dubya and Lott and Hastert do, it will be for one reason - reelection in 2004. 

The number one goal of any first-term president is reelection. Party affiliation, ideology, convictions - all that's secondary. President Dubya will do whatever he thinks will ensure a second term. Lott and Hastert will do whatever they think will ensure a Republican majority in Congress.

I say this because many conservatives are giddy and drunk on the notion of power. They want the Republicans to enact their agenda. This is not an unreasonable request, because Republicans profess to support a conservative agenda. So, if conservative voters vote for a candidate who supports the conservative agenda, it's right and proper to expect that candidate to pursue that agenda. 

But what if that agenda isn't popular enough to ensure a Republican majority in Congress? What if it's not popular enough to re-elect President Dubya? What if enacting the conservative agenda hacks off liberals, moderates, and swing voters? What if passing a few conservative bills produces a Democrat president or Congress?

Republican leaders must think about these questions. They must balance their beliefs and principles with the pursuit of power. That's just the way it is, and it explains why Republicans and President Dubya may not do all that conservatives want them to do. It explains why Dubya signed the liberty-destroying campaign finance reform bill and pork-laden and wasteful farm bill, imposed steel tariffs that will cost more jobs than they save, and flirted with an amnesty for law-breakers (illegal immigrants) before September 11 derailed it. Those actions, which conservatives rightly despised, took core issues away from Democrats. But it also advanced Democrat issues. But it also played a role in producing a Republican majority in Congress.

So Republicans will do just enough to keep the conservatives happy (or, at the very least, make them as unhappy as possible) to maintain their support, and stop just short of alienating moderates and swing voters. 

If you're a conservative hoping for and demanding big things, expect a mixed bag, and be happy with whatever bones are thrown your way. 

Odds and Ends

Israeli soldiers have taken Hebron in response to the Palestinian ambush on settlers and soldiers this past Friday. Hard to see how any of this help Israel be safe or the Palestinians receive their own country - if, indeed, they even deserve one

Congress has created a supposedly safe have on the Internet. A new "kids.us" domain will be available in a year and be overseen by a government contractor, who will make sure it contains no porn or other inappropriate material, as determined by the government. This domain will become the number one target for hackers and pedophiles.

Deadbeats who file bankruptcy to avoid paying what they owe got a reprieve from Congress. A bill to make it more difficult for consumers to wipe out their debt to credit cards was killed when Democrats inserted a provision restricting pro-life groups from using bankruptcy to avoid paying court fines. Pro-life Republicans objected to this one provision, which doomed the entire bill. Dems knew this would happen; they can usually be relied on to support freeloaders. Still, pro-lifers should support the bill, because bankruptcy should only be used by the truly destitute, and not by groups or individuals merely seeking to duck responsibility for their actions.

U.N. weapons inspectors are once again headed for Iraq, where they will be lied to and fooled by Saddam's goons. If they find nothing, the U.N. will declare Iraq weapon-free, and if they do find weapons and destroy them, the U.N. will declare Iraq weapon-free. Either way, Saddam wins and stays in power. President Dubya may be counting on Iraq harassing the inspectors and denying them access to facilities, which would then offer, under the U.N. security resolution, justification to take out Saddam. Saddam surely knows this, and may provide just enough cooperation to convince the gullible world that he is harmless.

Finally, please tell me I'm not the only person who couldn't care less about The Bachelor, Survivor, and other so-called reality shows, and has never watched one episode of The Sopranos or Sex in the City. I just don't understand the appeal. Maybe someone can convince me.

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