Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Mel Gibson's passion," Feb. 28, 2004

A run-amok mayor

The news that Gavin Newsom, San Francisco's mayor, was exercising "civil disobedience"by ordering marriage licenses for same-sex couples did not impress Glenn Reynolds (instapundit.com), who supports "gay rights" but wrote: "It's not civil disobedience when it's done by someone who controls the machinery of government-it's usurpation, even when it's in a cause I agree with." John Derbyshire of The Corner (nationalreview.com) wrote that a necessary component of civil disobedience is facing the consequences: "It may be that there is no other way to bring a law's injustice to general attention but by publicly flouting it. The law must, nonetheless, be enforced, until its injustice has been made so apparent to all that it has been repealed by the will of the people acting through their representatives."

Many bloggers wrote that Mayor Newsom should be the one punished, but Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com) predictably saw the propaganda advantages of having mass arrests: "Being thrown in jail for loving and committing to another person for life would highlight much of the injustice that now exists.... So bring it on." In another post, Mr. Sullivan discussed the frequent comparison of Mayor Newsom and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and argued that the mayor "should not be above the law, just as Judge Moore wasn't. But Newsom is also entitled to act according to his conscience and to his own reading of the state constitution's guarantees of equal protection, just as Moore was. If he is found guilty of violating his oath of office, he should face the consequences. Somehow I think one of them might be [reelected] in a landslide."

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Kerry (non)scandal: Would it have mattered?

Many blogs were giddy as reports of John Kerry adultery came in just before Valentine's Day. But when no proof arrived, some focused on the classic question of whether a public figure's personal life matters. Mickey Kaus (kausfiles.com) asked, "Who cares about philandering? It's not as if, say, we'd had a recent president whose philandering enmeshed him in a web of lies that led to his impeachment and squandered much of the promise of his term in office!" Bill Quick (dailypundit.com) agreed: "One of the most important aspects of the job of the American president is to not be a scumbag. [Some say] Character doesn't matter. Honesty doesn't matter. History doesn't matter. Nothing matters, as long as you can do the job." If that's so, Mr. Quick advised, "Hire Tony Soprano. The only question I have is, what do you think the job is? President of the United States, or Mafia capo?"

Other bloggers noted that right now President Bush is down and Sen. Kerry is up in polls, but even Democrats (especially Democrats?) recognize a Kerry weak spot: his long history of legislative flip-flops. Noam Scheiber addressed this problem in The New Republic's blog (tnr.com/ etc.mhtml): "The likely line of attack against Kerry is that he's an unprincipled panderer who's on both sides of every issue. And it's not clear to me that it's even possible to respond to this kind of attack. If you're attacked as a flip-flopper, any position you take will only be construed as further evidence of your flip-flopping, since that position will inevitably reinforce one or the other side of an issue you've been on both sides of. Once you've been on both sides of an issue, there's no way to get back to only one side."

Mr. Scheiber wrote that Sen. Kerry's only defense would be a pounding offense: He should "respond to every below-the-belt charge with a below-the-belt charge of his own." To do that successfully, though, Sen. Kerry would have to ride an anti-Bush wave for "the next eight-and-a-half months, something that's going to be tricky for a generally aloof and long-winded senator to do to a personally likeable president."

Iraq war: No blood for Shariah

J.P. Carter (evangelicaloutpost.com) congratulated Paul Bremer for standing up against theocracy in Iraq: "I'm opposed to theocratic governments of any form, whether Islamic, Jewish, or Christian, so I'm encouraged by Bremer's stance. Changing from a secular government to one influenced by Islamic law would cause Iraqi women the loss of many of the rights they've come to expect and would limit their influence in the budding democracy. We should be encouraging the expansion of human rights rather than allowing them to be repealed."

WORLD's blog (worldmagblog.com) expanded last week by adding Generation W(orld) writers, nine young professionals or students from around the country who are giving their perspective on news events.


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