Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Conservatives Caught in Contradictions

The religious right has tried to take credit for President Bush's re-election and has been trying to demand political payback. But I predicted that if they tried to do so, they would be over-reaching. And it looks like that is what is happening, as some Republicans now disavow the unprincipled rush to exploit the Terry Schiavo case while jettisoning political principles like "federalism" that conservatives claim to uphold.

The dilemma for the right is even worse than that, because they claim to be defenders of small government, the rule of law, even individual rights—yet they are now the big-government bullies rushing to impose the will of congress on the courts in order to override the decisions of private individuals. (Cox & Forkum have a terrific cartoon on this theme.)

"GOP Right Is Splintered on Schiavo Intervention," Adam Nagourney, New York Times, 3/23/05

"In interviews over the past two days, conservatives who expressed concern about the turn of events in Congress stopped short of condemning the vote in which overwhelming majorities supported the Schiavo bill, and they generally applauded the goal of trying to keep Ms. Schiavo alive. But they said they were concerned about what precedent had been set and said the vote went against Republicans who were libertarian, advocates of states' rights or supporters of individual rights....

"'This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy,' Mr. Shays said. 'There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them.' While the intensity of the dissent appears to be rising—Mr. Warner made a point Tuesday of calling attention to his little-noticed opposition in a nearly empty Senate chamber over the weekend—support for the measure among Republican and conservative leaders still appears strong. In interviews, some conservatives either dismissed the argument that the vote was a federal intrusion on states' rights or argued that their opposition to euthanasia as part of their support of the right-to-life movement trumped any aversion they might have to a dominant federal government....

" 'The libertarian streak in me says, you know, people should have the right to die,' Mr. Moore, of the Free Enterprise Fund, said. 'But as so many conservatives, I'm also very pro-life. Those two philosophies are conflicting with each other.' "