News & Reviews

Issue: "The death of discipline?," June 26, 1999

Bush: "I'm running"
The race is on
George W. Bush last week made explicit his intention to run for president. In a room full of supporters chanting "run, George, run," Mr. Bush told one backer who held a sign bearing the same message to "tear it up. I'm running and I intend to win." The chant changed to "win, George, win." Mr. Bush stayed away from specifics, but began laying out what he means by compassionate conservatism: "It's conservative to cut taxes; it's compassionate to give people more money to build and save and dream. It's conservative to trust local people to make decisions about their schools; it's compassionate to make sure the education system refuses to leave anyone behind." While he went to work defining his new political formula, he angered some conservatives by saying, concerning his potential selection of federal judges, "There will be no litmus test" on abortion. Mr. Bush's more explicitly conservative rivals seized on the comments: "What I'm hearing right now from the governor is waffling on the one issue that can clearly explain compassionate conservatism," said candidate Gary Bauer. "If compassionate conservative means anything, it has to mean do anything we can to stop the loss of 1.5 million unborn children every year." Likewise, Pat Buchanan is "a 'yes' on an anti-abortion litmus test." Steve Forbes said, "I believe you should appoint justices on matter of principle. One of those principles is belief in the sanctity of life." Mr. Bush laid out his questions for judicial nominees: "Do the judges share my overall philosophy, and will the judges strictly interpret the Constitution as opposed to using the bench to legislate?" The only "litmus test," he said, was whether a nominee would "strictly interpret the Constitution." Pressed by a reporter to say whether he interprets the Constitution to allow for abortions and whether he would require his judicial nominees to view it the same way, he answered, "I am not a lawyer. My job is to pick judges who are qualified to serve on the bench and that will be my criteria." SBC raps Clinton
Baptist to Baptist
Southern Baptists voted last week at their convention to rebuke President Clinton for proclaiming June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. A separate resolution calling upon Mr. Clinton's home church, Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., to discipline him for his support of the homosexual agenda was ruled out of order. The successful resolution urged the president to rescind his appointment of homosexual philanthropist James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. Meanwhile, in Washington, a confrontation between President Clinton and the Senate over the Hormel nomination ended with a presidential promise to give advance notice of recess appointments. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that as a result of President Clinton's pledge he would stop blocking action on presidential nominations. Gore gets in gear
Al the deficit slayer
Al Gore broke in on the George W. Bush buzz by announcing his White House candidacy, stressing themes ("moral leadership," "values and faith and family") that distance him from his boss. Taking credit for slaying the budget deficit, the vice president then targeted other deficit dragons: "the time deficit in family life; the decency deficit in our common culture; the care deficit for our little ones and our elderly parents." The vice president launched his campaign in his birthplace, Carthage, Tenn., telling the assembled crowd gathered on the town's Main Street that in addition to maintaining a strong economy, "We must make family life work in America." He also took a swipe at Mr. Bush, who leads him in most head-to-head polls. Mr. Gore hinted at the Texas governor's reticence on the issue of abortion. "Some try to duck the issue of choice," he said. "Not me. American women must be able to make that decision for themselves. I will stand up for a woman's right to choose." The vice president ducked use of the word abortion. Gross Austin Powers grosses $55 mil
Keep it frozen
The new Austin Powers movie, The Spy Who Shagged Me (rated PG-13), opened on June 11 and climbed quickly to the top of the box-office heap, grossing $55 million in its first three days. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace slipped to $25 million over that same weekend, but had still grossed $297 million by June 13. For those not familiar with Austin Powers, he's a sex-crazed spy cryogenically frozen in the 1960s and unfrozen in the '90s. In this second movie of what will probably be a long series, Austin must go back to the '60 s to retrieve his stolen "mojo" (sex drive, life force), which has been stolen by "Dr. Evil." But enough about the plot: The storyline plays second fiddle to gross-out humor and sex jokes. Should you go, or allow your children to go because some of their friends saw it? You will love Austin Powers if:

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