National Review noted earlier this year that, according to Ted Kaczynski’s files, almost all the mainstream media talk show outlets wanted to provide a forum for the Unabomber, treating him as a profound thinker as well as a murderer. And Forbes Magazine passed along this quote from Ed Turner: “If we had the right technology back then, you would have seen Eva Braun on the Donahue Show and Adolf Hitler on Meet The Press.” Although by no means a direct analogy, some of my faith in the limits of the American consumer’s appetite for pop cultural trash was restored with the complete failure of the XFL. Maybe with this bomb we have finally reached the maximum to which mainstream prime time TV will lower itself to appeal to the basest of viewer instincts……..naah, the World Wrestling Federation is stronger than ever.
The Jeffords Switch: Change Or Clarification?
Count me as one of those who believe that James Jeffords’ departure from the Republican Party is an almost unalloyed positive. Whether or not it ultimately works to the benefit of President Bush and his agenda depends on the administration’s response. I believe the correct one should be (1) to realize that nominal control of the Senate had provided a false sense of security, (2) to stiffen the resolve to deal directly with the American people on the substance of policy, and (3) to rededicate the leadership style to transformational strategy as opposed to transactional strategy.
The Jeffords move (and there will be more, in both directions) was largely a clarification of facts long since apparent. The election of Bush has served to heighten the relief of the diametrically opposed philosophies of the two major parties. As Newt Gingrich has pointed out, there has already been a shift from the public presumption of the Left’s moral superiority in education, health care, and Social Security, and there is a real opportunity to accomplish the same in environmental policy. But as I indicated in the July 2000 issue, transactional and managerial leadership will not be enough. Bush must be even more transformational in his thinking and intensify his appeal directly to the American people on the philosophical essences of his policy agenda. “Transactionalism”, deal making, and appeasement will appeal to the media, but will fail. Sure, there will be a need for a certain amount of “triangulation”, to borrow a Clintonesque term, but the direct approach is much preferable to the inside game.
One area in which Bush must be particularly bold is with judicial appointments. He must not waver in his commitment to strict constructionism. The problem with the present Federal judiciary as it relates to transformation is that the principle of stare decisis, or precedent, is now construed to apply to the results of the era of the hyperactive liberal construction of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is in this arena in which the battle will be most intense and in which the case must be made most effectively to the country. I said last October that the election would be about who we are. So let the games begin.