- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

Liberal drama

"[Josiah] Bartlet, by any measure, is Hollywood's version of a liberal Gipper and [Martin] Sheen plays him to the hilt [in the NBC drama 'The West Wing']. He's an undiluted liberal Democrat from the Northeast, with a founding father in his bloodline and a passion for economics. He's emphatically pro-abortion rights, pro-gun control, a champion of gays in the military and a vociferous fan of campaign finance reform… .

"Bartlet is Clinton without the skirt-chasing flaws, a man with a common touch, a huge heart and an aura of adult responsibility. He is a president designed to satisfy any liberal's wildest dreams, the antidote to the juvenile activity that the Left has had to endure (and support) for the past eight years… . Of course it's a bit of a stretch to imagine 'The West Wing' getting the laudatory praise and awards it's received if the chief executive had been, say, a pro-life, pro-school-prayer Republican… .

"This White House is populated by a cast of do-gooders and secular saints, noble men and women just trying to do the right thing in the face of terrible odds… . 'The West Wing' lacks any in-house villains. Staffers sleep with high-priced prostitutes; they lie under oath, conceal documents and hide the truth; and in the end, it's all just a big misunderstanding. Their hearts are in the right place, after all."

Ben Domenech, writing on "Big-Hearted and Wrongheaded" in the December/January issue of Citizen

No great causes

"In half a century, we have lost the zeal for great causes, being obsessed in the West with economic and sexual gratification. As this process has advanced, the mental constitution of Westerners has been imprinted with desires and images that are a world apart from those that formed the mental constitution of our Christian ancestors.

"In short, we are a different people. America is a different nation from the one that was established in the 18th century or that went to war in 1941. More and more of our people cannot grasp the conceptions that were basic to Christian civilization of old, or even to the America of 60 years ago. The 'education' of Americans has been deliberately deconstructed during the last 30 years or so.

"Students aren't exposed to the basic texts of our country, such as the Mayflower Compact, which lays down the principle that the new settlements in North America are to be Christian in character. They aren't told that the first settlement at Jamestown was premised on the aim of promoting and advancing Christianity in the New World or that the settlement was preceded by the erection of a cross at Cape Henry and a prayer service."

Anthony Harrigan, writing on "Deconstructing Our Civilization," in the winter issue of Humanitas

Spend more money?

"Government schooling was an important issue in the presidential campaign, but my sense is that George [W.] Bush hardly understood it any better than Al Gore. But the parents are catching on. More and more, they know it has not been working for their kids. People are even beginning to realize that, wait a minute, maybe more money isn't the solution after all. In that sense, the failure of government education is a crisis of liberalism, for the guiding philosophy of liberals is this: If there's a problem, the government should spend money on it. If the problem persists, that is because not enough money was spent.

"It has been a great source of frustration to conservatives that so many Americans persist in believing this. It has seemed impossible to disabuse them of the idea that problems will be solved to the extent that government spends more money. Lousy schools and an incompetent education establishment have come close to doing the job, however."

Tom Bethell, writing on "Failing Grades," in the December/ January issue of the American Spectator

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