February 2, 2006 [LINK]
Might as well face it,
We're "addicted to oil"!
President Bush's declaration in his State of the Union address that "America is addicted to oil" has elicited a wide range of startled gasps, delighted oohs and ahhs, and (thankfully) more thoughtful reactions from around the blogosphere and conservative punditocracy. Let's go:
Austin Bay, who is very reliable when commenting on military matters, actually buys into Bush's rhetoric. Indeed, he seems disappointed that Bush has not followed through with previous calls for more use of alernative fuels. I joined the commenters on that blog post, noting that most of those people are out of touch with present reality.
Andrew Sullivan agrees that "addicted to oil" is an inappropriate metaphor, and writes, "It's just a reflection of how this president has all but destroyed conservatism as a governing philosophy."
Daniel Drezner draws attention to the glaring contradiction between Bush's call to resist retreating into isolationism when it comes to trade and immigration policy, versus his strong push for reducing our dependence on Middle East oil. Oops! Somebody on the White House speechwriting staff forgot to check for internal logical consistency!
George Will (in today's Washington Post) finds that phrase addicted to oil to be "wonderfully useless," an example of "the therapeutic language of Oprah Nation." The long-term goals Bush set for energy independence are worthy of a Soviet planning commissar, he aptly notes.
Likewise, Robert Novak: "That has all the characteristics of an 'industrial policy,' with the federal government picking winners and losers. While violating the Republican Party's free market philosophy, this is a course with a lengthy pedigree of failure all over the world."
In sum, it would be more accurate to say that we are not so much "addicted to oil" as we are addicted to fatuous, politically correct rhetoric. As for the substance of policy, those of us who believe that tax policy ought to be used to correct the fundamental market distortion that results in massive traffic jams and air pollution may be in the minority right now, but our day will come!
Can Danforth save the GOP?
Today's Washington Post has a feature article on former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, who is on a "crusade" of sorts to save the Republican Party from self-destruction in the name of religious sectarianism. Sign me up! After retiring from the Senate in January 1995, he devoted his life to service as an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Like me, he is moderate in some respects, and conservative in others. His fundamental theme is standing up to the "bullies in the pulpit," which is an apt description of some leaders of the Christian Right. Rush Limbaugh says this article is "another hit piece" against conservative Christians, which seemed a little odd because Rush does not ordinarily stress religious faith as much as the more-strident commentators Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity do. In any case, I heartily disagree with his take on Danforth. The voice of evangelicals has added vigor and a sense of higher purpose to the GOP, but they are as susceptible to getting carried away with their beliefs as anyone is. My goal is not to push the Republican Party in one direction or another, but rather to get the various factions to respect each other and see how they all have a vital role to play in conserving what is good about this country. To me, that means standing together to resist the gradual slide toward statist, soul-crushing conformity and mediocrity.
UPDATE: Boehner becomes Majority Leader
Ohio's John Boehner defeated front-runner Roy Blunt in the race for the position of House Majority Leader recently vacated by Tom DeLay. My favorite, John Shadegg of Arizona (see Jan. 22), was eliminated in the first round. He pledged support for Boehner as long as Boehner remains committed to the goal of reform. See CNN.com. Both Arizona's senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, made a public endorsement of Shadegg earlier this week, seen on C-SPAN. Let's not forget the "sweeping brooms" of 1994, folks: It's time to CLEAN HOUSE!
FURTHER UPDATE: Jon Henke (via Instapundit) commented on the Majority Leader race, before it was decided, and "How Republicans Can Get Their Groove Back." Upshot: by choosing Shadegg, by far the ethically cleanest of the three contenders. The failure of House Republicans to heed the "fiscal conservatives and libertarians tha[t] make up the Republican base," as he urged, means that those of us who identify ourselves that way have got a long, cold, lonely winter yet ahead of us. How appropriate on Groundhog Day.