Bauer calls the GOP Pres. and VP candidates to task

By Nicholas Sanchez
web posted October 23, 2000

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter, the provocative writer and thinker for Human Events, has for a longtime been a not-so-subtle cheerleader for Republican presidential nominee, Governor George W. Bush. Ms. Coulter views W., as do a good number of Americans (including me): likable, self-effacing, and certainly a credible candidate for the Presidency of the United States. However, Ms. Coulter's ebullience over that which is the George W. Bush candidacy has also led her to some see attributes in Mr. Bush that are lost on the rest of America (especially me): namely, that W. is "Reaganesque."

As I am not one to make the Sign of the Cross three times before uttering the name Ronald Wilson Reagan, I believe that I am objective enough to say that I recognize that Mr. Reagan had a grand stature about him. Reagan's "gravitas", if you will please excuse the use of this overused
expression, certainly makes Mr. Bush – and Albert Gore, for that matter – look like a child trying to play a grownup's game. And any comparison between the two men – aside from the fact that they are both U.S. citizens and have served as governors of very large states – is laughable.

However, W. is Coulter's man. And as lovers see through filtered eyes, so do hipster politicos who have tied themselves to a political candidate. Should you dare to criticize Bush, you will quickly feel the sharp sting of Ms. Coulter's words as she protects "her man", with every bit the enthusiasm of a high school girl cheering on her boyfriend.

Back in August of 1999, when questions were then circling around as to whether or not W. had ever used cocaine, Coulter blasted those who would bring up such questions and advised the Governor to keep his mouth shut on the matter. Read: Bush can do no wrong, and shut up … we have an election to win; we can read the fine print on this package after January 20, 2001.

This attitude of Ms. Coulter has continued on unabated. And like the Grand Inquisitor, she has cast out heretics on the right who dare to utter even the mildest objection to the way George Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, have handled themselves during the campaign. The most recent object of Ms. Coulter's wrath has been Gary Bauer.

Gary BauerMr. Bauer, for those of you who most likely have forgotten, was the self-billed "morals candidate" in the 2000 GOP primary. The former head of the Family Research Council, one of the largest pro-family think tanks in Washington, DC, and the past and present head of the Campaign for Working Families (a political action committee), Bauer is well-recognized as a member of the "Religious Right". And although the majority of his political capital was blown after his failed bid for the presidency – and his superbly inane endorsement of Senator John McCain – the press, nevertheless, occasionally seeks out his commentary on political matters.

Recently, in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, Mr. Bauer took the Bush-Cheney ticket to task for their "lackluster defense of the sanctity of life, and then a surrender on the defense of traditional marriage." Mr. Bauer's words were not a call in the wilderness. In fact, he displayed an especially acute awareness to the feelings of many conservative grassroots activists.

As a point of fact, Messrs. Bush's and Cheney's words during the early-televised debates were a letdown to conservative activists. During the first presidential debate, Governor Bush haplessly shrugged his shoulders at the FDA's recent approval of the harmful abortion drug(s) RU-486. And during the single vice-presidential debate, Dick Cheney seemed to accept, with a puzzling air of indifference, the notion of homosexual marriage.

For all of this, Gary Bauer pleaded with Bush and Cheney not to be so dismissive of social issues, which are so near and dear to the hearts of so many of the base of GOP voters. If they continued to do so, Bauer warned, "we risk demoralizing millions of good Americans worried about cultural and moral decline and sentencing our country to four more years like the last eight."

Nowhere in his column did Bauer call for his followers (however many of them may be left) to vote for third party candidates Patrick J. Buchanan or Howard Phillips. Nowhere did he call for Christian conservatives to stay at home on Election Day. Nowhere did he ask Bush and Cheney to endorse any proposal that, say, Bob Dole would have done during his bid for the presidency. In fact, Bauer's language was quite mild, and if anything, it was a favor to the Bush Campaign. In his article, Bauer basically spells out to Bush how not to depress the conservative vote in what may be the closest election since 1968.

This helpful hint was too much for Coulter who castigated Bauer, in an article posted on the Jewish World Review website, for wanting to promulgate federal laws that would "outlaw sex education, communism, atheism, condoms, Birkenstocks, New York Times editorials . . ." etc., etc. Of course, Bauer suggested nothing of the kind.

What Bauer did urge Bust and Cheney to do was to stand up against the Politically Correct establishment. As Ms. Coulter points out in her rebuke to Bauer's column, the Constitution is silent on the matter of abortion. Why, then, shouldn't Bush speak out against it (if that is really where his heart is) since it has been forced upon us by the federal courts, namely the Supreme Court? And as for homosexual unions, Ms. Coulter knows as well as I do that the President of the United States has a bully pulpit unlike any other. If the president wants to make the case to the state legislatures that same-sex unions run contrary to the Judeo-Christian tradition this nation was founded upon, why shouldn't he?

My guess is that Ms. Coulter really doesn't have any objections to Mr. Bauer's conservative principles. It is just that she finds them inconvenient during this election season. Which is a mistake if she really wants Bush to win this election.

Many good-intentioned and right-thinking people are willing to let Bush get away with anything, just so long as he wins this election. They hope for Bush to ape Clinton's winning strategy in 1996: namely, tell the left-wing activists to shut up while we go out and win the national election.

There is only one problem with this strategy. The activists that make up the base of the Democratic Party are very different from the activists that make up the base of the Republican Party. The Democratic base is made up primarily of labor unions and minority groups who receive some sort of "walking around" money come election time. In other words, the left's base is highly organized because it is institutionalized. That is not the case with the Republican base. The GOP's activist base is made up largely of volunteers – people who are politically involved because issues motivate them.

If these people feel that "their" candidate is slighting them, they will stay home. Which is why when someone like Gary Bauer goes to The New York Times and constructively calls the Republican Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to task for falling asleep on the job, they should be thankful. Such an intercession may actually remind them that in order to win the upcoming election, which plans to be a close one, they need to make sure that every able activist is motivated to go to the polls to pull the lever for them. Which is a strategy that I assume Ann Coulter has no objection to.

Nicholas Sanchez is the Free Congress Foundation's Director of Development.

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