Goodbye, Barry Goldwater

by Patrick J Buchanan – January 19, 2004

“Bush Plans $1.5 Billion Drive for Promotion of Marriage” ran the headline in the New York Times.

The story told of how Bush aides were “planning an extensive election-year initiative to promote marriage” and debating whether to float the idea in the State of the Union.

“For months,” the Times reported, “administration officials have worked with conservative groups on the proposal, which would provide at least $1.5 billion for training to help couples develop interpersonal skills that sustain ‘healthy marriages.’”

Then came this kicker: “‘This is a way for the president to address the concerns of conservatives and to solidify his conservative base,’ a presidential adviser said.” Added Ronald Haskins, former White House aide to Bush, “A lot of conservatives are very pleased with the healthy marriage initiative.”

Well, Haskins, this conservative is not. And before President Bush shovels out $1.5 billion in boodle on TV ads and marriage mentors to help couples develop “interpersonal skills,” a few questions:

Where in the Constitution is the U.S. government empowered to take money from citizens to teach other citizens how to have “healthy marriages”? Why is the White House dreaming up new social programs when we’re running a $500 billion deficit?

What, exactly, is the difference between the compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush and the Great Society liberalism of Lyndon Johnson, against which Mr. Conservative, Barry Goldwater, broke his lance in 1964? What do the Beltway conservatives stand for anymore, other than getting their snouts in the trough, too?

The genesis of this scheme?

Stunned by a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision ordering the state to legalize homosexual marriage, the White House has been under pressure to support a constitutional amendment that declares marriage to be solely between a man and a woman.

But the White House has been waffling, fearing such an amendment would ignite a firestorm of protest from Log Cabin Republicans, homosexuals, Hollywood, the professoriat and Big Media, where gay marriages are the civil-rights cause du jour.

Taking a stand against homosexual marriage would mean a blazing battle for Bush in this election year. It would win this battle, but this White House doesn’t want to fight.

Country-club Republicans want to be known for their support of “diversity,” “tolerance” and the Big Tent. They don’t want angry gays ripping them for being “bigots” and “haters.” They can’t take that kind of heat.

What the White House wants is the political benefit of standing up for traditional marriage, without the political onus of saying that homosexual marriages are immoral, unnatural and unacceptable in the United States.

A constitutional amendment restricting marriage to a man and a woman is the kind of blazing social issue from which moderate Republicans recoil like Dracula from a crucifix. Indeed, the Bully Pulpit was rolled out of this White House about the same time as that granite monument of the Ten Commandments was rolled out of the Alabama state courthouse.

The Bush folks like to say what they believe is right. They do not like saying what and who they believe is morally wrong. And that is at the heart of America’s social crisis today.

Hence, this scheme to buy the silence of the Right with $1.5 billion.

And if Haskins is right, some conservatives are rubbing their hands with glee in anticipation of the pay-off.

This $1.5 billion is nothing but faith-based pork, cooked up in the kitchen of Karl Rove to bribe the Religious Right not to scream too loud if the White House decides to go into the tank on gay marriage in 2004.

But some conservatives are not accepting the booby prize Rove is offering. Said Sandy Rios of Concerned Women for America, “This is like throwing a snowball at a forest fire … This administration is dancing dangerously around the issue of homosexual marriage.”

Adds Gary Bauer, a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2000, “If the White House puts (gay marriage) on the back burner or doesn’t put capital into it, that would deeply demoralize a large block of voters that they are expecting to turn out in November.”

Two weeks ago, President Bush looked like a man holding four aces sitting across a table from Howard Dean who was looking at a low pair.

Then Bush launched a pre-emptive strike on his political base by calling for amnesty for illegal aliens. Now, he is moving crab-wise on the issue of homosexual marriage. This is how elections get lost. Suddenly, Bush looks like a bear on ice.