The Corner

Tod Lindberg

Thanks, JPod, for linking to his essay on the Beatitudes. It was an impressive piece of work that makes me much more likely to pick up his book.

I didn’t find his article in the latest Weekly Standard nearly as strong. He argues that Democrats are running the risk of abandoning the center by embracing “massive new bureaucratic ‘solutions’ to social problems.” He adds: “If Democrats conclude they don’t need to reach to the center any more, they will be behaving just as foolishly as . . . House Republicans did in 2005-06, when most all the legislative action seemed focused on buttering up social conservatives.”

I think this analysis gets things exactly wrong. First, the GOP Congress of 2005-6 did almost nothing for social conservatives. Yes, there was the Schiavo intervention. But the legislative action was for the most part taken up by the bankruptcy bill, the energy bill, CAFTA, and similar matters. Conservatives of many types, not just social conservatives, welcomed the Roberts and Alito nominations.

Second, the Democratic Congress acts as though overreaching on economic issues is less of a danger than overreaching on social issues, and there is good reason to think that it is correct. (Note, for example, a recent Quinnipiac survey of voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida that “found that the endorsement of abortion rights groups was a net negative, although not as much among independents as the support of gay rights.”)

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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