Turning right

"Turning right" Continued...

Issue: "Bob Geldof: Whose jubilee?," June 25, 2005

MEDVED: About three years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down for dinner with Sen. Clinton. To my surprise, she still came across as gracious, civilized, and warm-much more so than most conservatives believe.

For me, it's Hillary's ideas and values, not her personality, that make her dangerous. It's also obvious that she's lost some of the sweetness and vulnerability that impressed me during the law school years we shared. Thirty-five years of ruthless politics, not to mention a deeply troubled marriage, provided Sen. Clinton with an edginess and brittleness she lacked as a young woman.

Ironically, this image as a tough-minded survivor counts as one of her most formidable political assets in her inevitable presidential campaign-which I will do everything possible to oppose.

WORLD: What was the most important reason for your theological and political transformation?

MEDVED: I learned that conservative ideas-both politically and religiously-produced better results in the real world than their leftist alternatives. Personally, as I began to experiment with elements of traditional Judaism like Sabbath observance and daily prayer, I felt my life reliably enriched.

After a few years, the benefits of observing The Law became so obvious that I reached the conclusion that these eternal rules originated with no merely human author. In political terms, I saw corresponding good results from conservative ideas under Reagan, after watching the horribly destructive, nightmarish impact of liberal programs under LBJ and Carter.

By the time I became active in the Republican Party in the mid-1980s, it was obvious that religiosity and conservatism worked well in improving daily life and uplifting the country; secularism and leftism, on the other hand, produced bitterness and frustration.

WORLD: You write that "business isn't exploitative-it's heroic." Since so many Jews have prospered through hard work in building businesses, why have most Jews voted for more government and less freedom for business? Is that pattern changing?

MEDVED: This is a painful question, with no easy answers. It's true that the overwhelming majority of Jewish families made it into the middle class (and beyond) because of their success in business, but the younger generations in those families are more likely to work in privileged professions (law, teaching, social work, media) that often look with disdain on the profit motive.

In my book I stress the essentially moral nature of the free market system, which forces you to consider the needs and welfare of others. If you fail to provide a product or service that another citizen chooses to buy, you simply can't succeed in a capitalist system. That simple fact stands as the most direct rebuttal to all those guilt-ridden Jews (and others) who feel apologetic about pursuing prosperity in business.

WORLD: Do you see Mel Gibson's recent success as a blip on the Hollywood charts or a breakthrough that will lead to major change?

MEDVED: A movie like the eloquent and excellent The Passion of the Christ that grosses more than $370 million in domestic box office receipts, and becomes the most popular R-rated film in history, is more than a "blip"-but the secular militants who run Hollywood have done nothing to follow through on Mel's breakthrough.

For years, I've been arguing that if the entertainment industry were actually as greedy and selfish as it's supposed to be, it would churn out far more family-friendly and religiously themed movies and TV shows. The failure of top production companies to benefit from Mel's example-or, as I discuss in my book, their stubborn refusal to even watch his movie-demonstrates that the anti-religious bias in Tinseltown is even stronger than the profit motive.

WORLD: You write that Christian revival in the United States is "good for the Jews." Why is that the case?

MEDVED: Christian revival is good for the Jews because it's good for America-and a stronger America not only benefits all Jews who live here, but also helps to protect our courageous co-religionists in Israel (including my father, my brother, and my oldest daughter, by the way).

Serious Christians today play the leading role in addressing every challenge we face as Americans-defending our nation in the War on Terror, educating their children in functional values, lifting the downtrodden out of poverty, protecting the institution of the family.

Moreover, a more Christian America in which religious ideas receive greater respect can only serve to encourage Jews to take our own tradition more seriously.

Religious faith isn't a zero-sum game: If my neighbor deepens his Christian involvement, it subtracts nothing from my Jewish commitment. In fact, in this wonderfully pluralistic country, the intensification of Christian faith undoubtedly strengthens all religions.


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