- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2003

Hubris watch
Something a little bizarre is happening to a few Washington conservatives. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went on the warpath this week with rambling, personal attacks on Colin Powell and the State Department. Does Mr. Gingrich really think he is likely to influence this president, who is extremely close to Mr. Powell, by an external public attack on him? All Mr. Gingrich has done, in his usual not-so-subtle way, is to strengthen Mr. Powell and the State Department in its internal position. That, of course, is Gingrich's record. He is the master of boomerang politics and did a huge amount to help re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996. If the American Enterprise Institute wants to keep the pressure on the State Department (and they have some reason to), they couldn't have picked a more damaging spokesman.
In general, I'd say, there are other alarming signs of hubris among the Republican leadership in Washington, a frothy exuberance that strikes me as an early warning sign of trouble. Along with Mr. Gingrich, there was Sen. Rick Santorum, associating homosexuality with having sex with dogs and backing the jailing of gay people for consensual sex in their own homes. There was Don Rumsfeld, clumsily trying to bigfoot the State Department on North Korea, and insisting that the United States isn't militarily in Iraq for the long haul. And there was Karl Rove, setting up a 2004 convention date designed to crudely exploit memories of September 11. This all smacks of huge over-confidence to me.

Reality check
And conservatives are in for a few obvious compromises in the weeks and months ahead that hubristic types are not likely to take easily. There will be no more outright military attacks on rogue regimes, certainly not in this term. The pacification of Iraq will be a difficult, protracted and often perilous process to which we will need to devote a huge amount of attention. The president is committed, as he should be, to the road map to achieve a two-state solution in Israel and the West Bank. Ariel Sharon's days of getting everything he wants and more are numbered, which could promote a neo-conservative backlash. The tax cut is also going to be much more modest than many supply-siders want. In the run-up to the election, the president will tack to the cultural and social middle as he must, which can hardly gladden the hearts of theocrats like Mr. Santorum. I hope the hard right doesn't react poorly. If they want to mau-mau this President Bush, like they did the last one, they will only make their own position more marginal and weaken the president in his re-election. Is that what they want? Or are they so blinded by their own recent successes that they cannot yet see things clearly? Calm down, fellas. And take a deep breath.

Question for Santorum
The senator from Pennsylvania made some valid points about Constitutional law, but many grotesque smears in his recent AP interview. One of those points was that if we allow people to have any kind of adult, consensual sex in their own bedrooms, any number of horrors could ensue, including incest, bigamy, you name it. So let me turn the slippery slope argument around. Mr. Santorum argues that gays should be jailed for having private consensual sex in their own homes. (He lets it slip at the end of the interview when he says: "If New York doesn't want sodomy laws, if the people of New York want abortion, fine. I mean, I wouldn't agree with it, but that's their right …") Why does he believe this? Because, somehow, private gay sex prevents others from forming "strong, healthy families."
I have no idea how that linkage works but leave that for a moment. If that is the criterion for the government to police our bedrooms, then why should not adultery be criminal? It has a far, far more direct effect on "strong, healthy families" than homosexuality. It's far, far more common than gay sex hurts children, destroys families, wounds women, and on and on. To argue that gay sex should be illegal but adultery shouldn't be, makes no sense at all. So here's Mr. Santorum's campaign slogan: Throw adulterers in the slammer! Do you think his fellow senators might feel a little queasy about that?

News of the weird
Remember those Raelians, the pro-cloning sect that believes the truth was bestowed on their mystical leader by aliens in a spaceship? It turns out that they also hand out awards of various kinds. Their latest recipient? According to a press release this week, it's none other than Michael Moore!
Here's the PR release: "His Holiness RAEL, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, has just awarded director Michael Moore with the title of "Honorary Guide," for his movie "Bowling for Columbine" and for the anti-war position he's taken during the Oscars' ceremony. After receiving his Oscar, Mr. Moore took the microphone and spoke directly to Mr. Bush in these terms: "We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you!" He also invited the American people to not remain silent and to express their anti-war position. The Raelian Movement's public relations service is in contact with Michael Moore to organize a meeting so that His Holiness RAEL can personally give him his award. His Holiness also intends to propose an exclusive film project to the director." A movie! Can you wait? I just hope to God they don't clone Mr. Moore. One of him is quite enough.

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