The Corner

Jeff Hart, Bush, Etc

All due laud and honor to our colleague Jeff Hart. But I’ve only now read his LA Times piece. If you ask me, it makes his infamous Wall Street Journal essay seem cautious by comparison. I’m sure Rod loves parts of it, but I’d like to have a little more, you know, evidence. According to Hart, Bush is a free-market zealot and “privatization ideologue.” Maybe someone could square that with this horrifying piece in today’s USA Today which reports that:

A sweeping expansion of social programs since 2000 has sparked a record increase in the number of Americans receiving federal government benefits such as college aid, food stamps and health care.

A USA TODAY analysis of 25 major government programs found that enrollment increased an average of 17% in the programs from 2000 to 2005. The nation’s population grew 5% during that time.

Hart is a big believer in intellectual rigor but he throws out sweeping broadsides as if they are self-evidently true. Consider this passage:

Bush puts it this way: “It’s wrong to destroy life in order to save life.”

That works only if you think a dozen cells is the equivalent of an infant diagnosed with diabetes or an adult with Parkinson’s disease. If you believe that, you will believe anything. In actuality, the supposed “culture of life” is a culture of disease and death.

Bush would like to abolish abortion. No one likes abortion. But a demand for it exists today that did not exist in 1950, let alone in 1920, when U.S. women got the vote. Today, look at a university campus. Half women. They are represented in all professions. They demand the right to decide if and when to have children. Criminalizing abortion would be folly, a disaster — and would fail, like that other prohibition. That’s the actuality

Huh. So if you take the standard pro-life view on stem cell research “you’ll believe anything.” Does that go for the majority of the NR editorial board? Will Ramesh believe in unicorns and leprechauns because he believes respect for life requires a ban on embryonic stem cell research? In fairness, I don’t think Ramesh ever said that a clump of cells is the same thing as an infant, but that just demonstrates how unfair Hart is being. He’s created a strawman to debunk as an idiot and by association he calls a great many conservatives idiots as well.

As for the “demand” for abortion justifying abortion, this is really outrageous coming from someone who claims to despise populism. Indeed, he rests much of his criticism of Bush on the charge that Bush is a populist. But, simply because a large number of people want something he advocates — in this case abortion — pro-life conservatives should simply bow to “reality.” By what standard of intellectual rigor should conservatives draw a line between what is right or wrong and what is merely popular if Hart is willing to cave to this logic on abortion?

I really don’t get it.

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