Wednesday, November 10, 2004

News alert! George Will actually said something intelligent yesterday.
Republicans should send a thank-you note to San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom -- liberalism's George Wallace, apostle of "progressive" lawlessness. He did even more than the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to energize the 11 state campaigns to proscribe same-sex marriage. All 11 measures passed, nine with more than 60 percent of the vote. They passed in Oregon and Michigan, while those states were voting for Kerry. Ohio's measure, by increasing conservative turnout, may have given Bush the presidency. Kentucky's may have saved Sen. Jim Bunning.

Newsom's heavily televised grandstanding -- illegally issuing nearly 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses -- underscored what many Americans find really insufferable. It is not so much same-sex marriage that enrages them: Most Americans oppose an anti-same-sex amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is why it fell 49 votes short of the required two-thirds in the House and 19 short in the Senate. Rather, what provokes people is moral arrogance expressed in disdain for democratic due process.
This is an angle which the liberal bloggers (e.g. Political Animal, Daily Kos, etc.) have completely failed to appreciate. In their rush to "discover" that the gay marriage issue did not hurt Kerry specifically nor national-level Democrats in general (despite the fact that marriage constitutional amendments passed overwhelmingly in four potential or actual Kerry states [AR, MI, OH, OR] and another 9 "blue states" have Defense of Marriage-like laws on their books [CA, DE, HI, IL, ME, MN, NH, PA, WA]), liberals have ignored the possibility that voters this year were defending the notion of "rule of law" as well as defending a heterosexual definition of marriage.

The suggestion is that the actions of Gavin Newsom mattered even more than the actions of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court because the former was patently illegal while the latter was according to law. Both, of course, point up liberals' continuing problem: they rely overwhelmingly on the courts and not the people or the legislatures to advance their political agenda.

The Democratic Party's long-standing alliance of liberals (e.g. degreed professionals) and populists (e.g. labor unions, ethnic minorities) is going to be put on the rack next year by the Bush administration, and court nominees -- both Supreme and especially Appellate -- is going to be its instrument of choice. Bush will advance a conservative social agenda, going after Roe v. Wade most of all. The liberals will die to the last man before they give up abortion on demand.

At the same time, the less discussed advance the Bushies are going to make is on property rights. While the liberals in the media and in the Democratic Party are going to rage and storm against the religious fundamentalists, will they have any comcomitant drive -- or desire? -- to rage and storm against the property rights fundamentalists whose basic goal is to overturn the New Deal?

This is precisely why I think liberals are dangerous: they demand a package deal -- liberal social agenda plus liberal economic agenda -- but cannot get that package enacted. When push comes to shove (and, oh, will it ever in 2005) and Karl Rove makes the center-left pick its battles, which one will the liberals in the Northeast and the West Coast fight to defend? Considering most liberal opinion leaders are what I have called previously "free-trading athiests," I have my sinking suspicions.

As Grover Norquist told Michael Scherer in Mother Jones last year,
"Because of the smoke and fire of the abortion issue, it is probably all anybody will talk about, but there is much more at stake. . . . The New York Times understands sex. It doesn't understand money."

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