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Issue: "Remaking the family," March 6, 2004

Speaking now on same-sex marriage

George W. Bush finally backed a constitutional amendment to protect marriage from an assault by judges and homosexual activists. Blogosphere reaction was predictably mixed. Hugh Hewitt (hughhewitt.com) was happy: "When courts dictate law, as has happened in Massachusetts, or when low-ranking, publicity-grabbing officials make up the law, as is happening in San Francisco and may soon happen elsewhere, then freedom is diminished because the rule of a few is substituted for the rule of elected legislatures.... Who runs America? ... Arbitrary power, unchecked and absolute, is no friend to political minorities, even when it arrives robed or smiling."

Greg Ransom (hayekcenter.org/ prestopundit) agreed: "It all comes down to who and what rules in this country-the people and the liberal constitutional tradition, or the judges and their anti-liberal constitutional radicalism. Whether or not I favor gay marriage, I certainly stand with the people and the ancient liberal constitutional tradition of this country and against the judges and their intellectually bankrupt constitutional radicalism."

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Gay conservative Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com) was less pleased: "The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land.... He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens-and do so in the Constitution itself.... Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth."

Josh Chavetz of Oxblog (oxblog.blogspot.com) thinks that the question is academic. "Not that this in any way excuses Bush, but it seems to me that the FMA probably won't get through Congress. Assuming that every Republican senator votes for it, are there really 16 Democratic senators who will? Has anyone been nose-counting on this? If the wildly more popular-and equally awful-flag-burning amendments consistently fail to get through, I just can't imagine that the FMA will. Or am I guilty of wishful thinking here?"

The Bee Gees era

Gregg Easterbrook (tnr.com/ easterbrook.mhtml) riffed on one of his specialties, the defense budget. With the news that the Army's Comanche helicopter program was being cut, Mr. Easterbrook wrote, "No Air Force or Navy major program has been canceled ... and as Easterblogg earlier pointed out, [Defense Secretary Don] Rumsfeld's fiscal 2005 budget request shafts the Army while lavishing funds on Rummy's pets, the Air Force and Navy. Army programs are being canceled and the Army budget being held back, despite the fact that the Army has done, oh, what, maybe 98 percent of the work in Iraq?"

Mr. Easterbrook also pointed out the Army's continuing procurement problems: "Some of the money that would have been spent on the canceled program will now be used to buy the Army more of its existing helicopters-which, bear in mind, are even older designs than Comanche. Army aviation will have nothing in the air that was designed after the 1970s, when the Bee Gees were blasting out of transistor radios because the Walkman hadn't been invented yet."

How Nader makes any Dem look moderate

Ryan Lizza, Mr. Easterbrook's New Republic stable mate, bucked the conventional wisdom about a Ralph Nader candidacy. Rather than assuming that Mr. Nader's campaign would hurt the Democratic nominee, Mr. Lizza argues that he would actually help a Kerry or Edwards: "In 2000, lacking a unified base, Gore felt pressure to respond to Nader and was forced to tilt left in the closing weeks of the campaign. It's doubtful Kerry or Edwards will have the same problem. If the left remains as united as it is now in its antipathy to Bush, it will tolerate Kerry or Edwards making all kinds of centrist and even conservative sounds as Election Day approaches. And just as Dean did in the primaries, Nader's challenge from the left in the general election could help Kerry or Edwards by making either of them look more moderate."

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