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So It Worked

If the Arab governments honor their pledge to President Bush to cease funding Islamic extremist terror, and if they agree that Arafat must be isolated and Mahmoud Abbas put in his place, and if Abbas then honors his pledges to end terror against Israel – big ifs all of them – but if so, then can’t we now say: The Iraq war worked? The ultimate goal of the Iraq war was to change the political culture of the Arab world – and post-war, that culture is changing.

On the Other Hand

Whatever happened to that bold “peace plan” that Crown Prince Abdullah
unveiled
last year? You’ll recall that Abdullah ignited an enormous fuss 15 months ago by offering to negotiate full peace with Israel. Yet at the summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday, it was the Saudis who were most adamant in refusing to deal directly with Israel.

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One of the things President Bush has always clearly seen is that the Middle East peace process has to be an Arab-Israeli process, not an Israeli-Palestinian process. There is much that the Palestinians want to receive – but there is very little that they have to give. The Arab quid pro quo for the West Bank is true peace from all the Arab nations – a Palestinian signature alone is simply not worth having. For that reason, the greatest obstacle to peace may turn out to be neither Israel’s alleged instransigence or Palestinian terrorism but Saudi timidity.

Fact Checking

Two quick corrections and an amplification from yesterday. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, but in fact she inherited the crown immediately upon the death of her father in February 1952. And I had no business saying that the Queen disliked Margaret Thatcher – this sentiment is widely reported, but surely by now I’ve learned not to believe what I read.

The amplification: I learned yesterday from a number of readers that my opening quip about liberalism being a form of mental illness is a sort of signature line of the radio talk-show host Mike Savage. This is news to me, but I am happy to give Mr. Savage (Dr. Savage? Doc Savage?) credit for using it first.

Hillary’s Version

How’s this for a headline that you know must be false even before you read the accompanying story: “Hillary Clinton Releases Tell-All Book.” It would take more than a book to compel Hillary Clinton to “tell all.” We know for a fact that a federal subpoena won’t do it, and I strongly doubt whether three hard-faced cops and a bright interrogation lamp would be sufficient to the job either. We’ve been hearing a lot of loose talk lately about Bush “lying.” Byron York brilliantly explodes that claim in the current print NR. One reason that the claim about Bush has gone as far as it has is that Americans have forgotten what real lying sounds like. In fact, that could be the selling slogan for Mrs. Clinton’s work: “Hillary: Lying Done Right.”

Canadian Conservatives

Lorne Gunter is one of the very finest conservative writers in Canada. Here’s his take, from the Edmonton Journal on the just-ended race for leader of the federal Progressive Conservative party. Read it and wince.

EDMONTON JOURNAL
Peter’s principle blindsides Tories: MacKay’s treachery takes party down a blind alley
Wednesday 4 June 2003
p. A12
Imagine the Peter MacKay-David Orchard pact translated to the current Liberal leadership race.

Paul Martin is the clear front-runner, but not the obvious shoo-in he is now. A staunchly right-wing candidate is a strong second. The right-winger cannot win, but he can deny Martin victory.

Mr. Right and his cultish followers have heretofore had little to do with the Liberals, outside his one earlier run at the party’s top job. Most of his supporters don’t buy annual memberships. They don’t stand for election as Liberals between leadership contests. They don’t raise funds or organize constituency associations, either. They are leadership-only Grits.

Mr. Right claims to be the intellectual heir of Canada’s first Liberal PM, Alexander Mackenzie, who ran to the right of Tory Sir John A. Macdonald. He and his devotees believe almost nothing that every other Liberal believes, though.

On selection day, leadership balloting drags on for hours. Martin’s support is consistent, but remains stalled, never able to surmount 50 per cent plus one. A determined John Manley, who had delivered a real stem-winder of a speech the night before, has been making sizable gains through the early rounds of voting.

Now, with all the failed candidates throwing their support behind Manley, there’s a chance he will surpass Martin on the final ballot. Martin’s well-laid plans of the past decade could be crumpled. He sends his aides to Mr. Right’s camp.

Mr. Right consents to back Martin, but at an astronomical price.

Throughout the campaign Right has been railing against official bilingualism and multiculturalism; not merely proposing reforms at odds with Liberal dogma, but weaving vast conspiracies in which francophones and new Canadians are behind the collapse of the family farm, the disappearance of the locally owned main-street hardware store and the long waiting lists at Canadian hospitals.

Right’s pound of flesh? Martin must agree to review the bedrock Liberal values of bilingualism and multiculturalism. Martin insists he has agreed only to a review by a commission he can appoint to reach the conclusions all true Liberals desire. Martin claims to have spoken with the ghosts of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau — the father and the obstetrician of bilingualism and multiculturalism — both of whom, he insists, told him the deal with Right was OK.

But everyone else knows otherwise. Pearson and Trudeau are spinning in their graves. Martin has sold his soul to Right — and with it the soul of the Liberal party — in return for the realization of Martin’s ambition. He has repudiated 40 years of Liberalism for purely selfish reasons.

His party roils with discontent and bitterness, just as the Tories are doing now.

Or imagine that Jack Layton had made a deal with a right-to-work candidate in order to win the NDP leadership last January and was now being forced to strike a panel to ponder the decertification of every public-sector union in the land. Or Stephen Harper had won the Alliance leadership last year only because he had bargained away Senate reform and agreed the West’s representation in the House of Commons should never rise above current levels, even as the region’s population continues to be Canada’s fastest-growing.

If you can conceive of any of these scenarios, you have some idea of what MacKay gave away last weekend just so he could succeed Joe Clark.

Free trade is the Tories’ defining policy, and yet MacKay traded it for a handful of brightly coloured beans that won’t grow a cloud-scraping beanstalk and won’t lead to a magic harp or golden-egg-laying goose.

About the only thing Brian Mulroney delivered that Canadian conservatives — true blue as well as red, Reform/Alliance as well as Tory — still agree was an unalloyed blessing was free trade with the U.S. Even Liberals in unguarded, off-the-record moments concede the deal was mostly positive.

The Tories split the political right apart over the Constitution, the GST, increased spending, higher taxes, regional favouritism, expanded bilingualism, gun control and judicial activism (Mulroney appointed Bertha Wilson to the Supreme Court, for instance). Free trade was the one policy on which they brought together their Quebec and western caucuses, Bay Street as well as Main Street.

The cynical, conniving, tone-deaf MacKay tossed that legacy into history’s dumpster just to satisfy his desire to be Tory leader. Since Orchard is one of free trade’s longest-standing critics, MacKay’s deal amounts to conceding Orchard has been right all along.

Bedrock Tories, such as Ontario Premier Ernie Eves and former finance minister Michael Wilson are at a loss over what to do next. Just when their party appeared to be regaining some of its base in Ontario, MacKay’s first act as leader was to veer it off into a dead-end alley.

Loyal Tories are left with four choices: swallow hard and accept an Orchard-influenced party, sit out the next election, make nice with the Martin Liberals or join the Canadian Alliance. The last option is the least palatable, but the other three guarantee a fourth, consecutive Liberal majority, perhaps even with significant gains in the West.

That is what MacKay’s singular act of treachery has achieved.



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