- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Culture peace?

"While there are still plenty of inflammatory moments, and plenty of opportunities for dissent, the crackle of cultural gunfire is now increasingly distant.

"Take abortion. Last year, Ralph Nader committed the ultimate gaffe by blurting out the truth: the choice between Bush and Gore was not a choice between legal and illegal abortion. It was between mildly different ways to enforce our new status quo: constitutionally backed abortion rights hemmed in with a few pragmatic restrictions. The great coup de grace of the new Bush administration was to rescind federal financing for groups promoting abortion abroad hardly the end of reproductive choice as we know it. A few hard-liners clambered to the rooftops, but few listened and fewer followed them.

"Ditto gay rights. Eminem wins a Grammy and sings a duet with … Elton John. Yes, the gay lobby wailed, and Lynne Cheney weighed in with disgust. But their choreographed responses, especially to the younger generation, seemed so, well, 1997. Or race. You'd think that when a Democratic senator mouthed off, as Robert Byrd did recently, about 'white niggers,' there would be an uproar. A few sputters, but hardly the John Rocker treatment."

Andrew Sullivan, writing on "Life After Wartime," in Sunday's New York Times Magazine

Humble pie

"The new Bush regime is aggressively modest. Gone is the 'Blue Goose,' the huge royal podium. Gone are the strains of 'Hail to the Chief,' and the ruffles and flourishes. Bush moves around without a large retinue. He defers to the people he meets. His mark, as the columnist Marjorie Williams has said, is 'flamboyant humility.' This is Bush's key to defusing the anger of Democrats, like starving a fire of air. Showing humility being civil, polite, unassuming, non-threatening, unobtrusive, attentive to law, and respectful of others has made George W. Bush what he is at the moment: the most powerful man in the world …

"Humility so far has done very well by this president, giving him a rise in record time to the heights of power, giving a new meaning to what the meek will inherit. Less is not more; it can sometimes be everything. So it has been for George Bush… . The word 'humility' may not seem to go well with such words as 'Texas' and 'president,' but it can."

Noemie Emery, writing on "The M Factor" in the April 2 issue of National Review

It's about sex

"Culture politics necessarily results in the 'moralizing' of politics. Across the political spectrum, there is considerable ambivalence about this turn in our political culture. The left complains about an ascendant 'neo-Puritanism,' especially in relation to sexual ethics, and especially in the aftermath of the scandals surrounding Bill Clinton. The right responds that it is simply challenging the 'new morality' so vocally and successfully promoted by the left since the 1960s… .

"More often than not, culture politics is not a matter of morality vs. immorality (or even amorality) but of moralities in conflict. As much for secularists like John Dewey and Richard Rorty as for religionists like Walter Rauchenbusch and James Dobson of today's massive 'Focus on the Family' network, it is a conflict that takes place within the ambiance of Christian America… .

"Culture politics has to do with sex, of course. But again, it was the 'new politics' of the left, not of the right, that declared a 'cultural revolution' (meaning, above all, a sexual revolution) some 30 years ago."

Richard John Neuhaus, writing on "Culture Politics, and Other Kinds," in the April issue of First Things


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