Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bush’s State of the Union speech

The President’s speech last night, it seems to me, was very good. We have gotten so used to him giving great speeches, including the State of the Union after 9/11, that when he gives a perfectly fine speech, we tend to be overly critical. So with last night’s speech. Because it was, inevitably and rightly, an election-year State of the Union talk, it did not reach the rhetorical heights of his very best efforts. (And yet, if you doubt it’s success, just re-play Nancy Pelosi’s response!) But, it worked. The strongest part of the speech was on foreign policy and the war on terror. That pudding had a clear theme and he stayed with it. Our duty is "the active defense of the American people," and we are not going to ask anyone’s permission to do that. Our resolution is firm, our actions in the world are not only in our interest, but are good. It was good that he that mentioned our fundamental principles and the "unseen pillars" of civilization that support them.
While his noting the virtues of tax cuts was a good thing, as was his declaration in favor of marriage, and his attack on runaway courts, I think he could have left the steroid issue out. Such particularity, especially in the State of the Union address, lowers our eye sights too much. The presidency is too high an office to be concerned with such matters. They should be handled, and talked about, on the lower levels of our constitutional building. I especially liked his few words on the Patriot Act, not only is he right on the issue, but his tough stance on it will be useful against his Democratic opponent in the fall: They can’t do two things at once, on the one hand critcize the administration for not doing enough on Homeland security, and on the other, criticize the Patriot Act as they have been doing (especially when both Kerry and Edwards voted for it). And, in fine, I liked this formulation of the President especially: "The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years." For more elaborate comments, see

Lucas Morel’s op-ed at Ashbrook.

Discussions - 1 Comment

I am interested in knowing - Are the views expressed in this blog entry by Mr. Schramm shared by most of the other leaders of the Ashbrook Center?

I have, for awhile, been wishing for a strong challenge to President Bush in the Republican primaries, like his father had. (I stated this in a previous comment here, and in comments elsewhere.) Others have also suggested this, but unfortunately, no major challenge has formed.

One would think that an organization named after Mr. Ashbrook might be receptive to this idea, and would be stongly opposing many of the policies of this administration. Many people know about the immense frustration of conservatives at the fiscal policies of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress. There was just a Wall Street Journal article about this, and there have been many other articles about this issue, some of which have been pointing out that the fiscal policies of this administration have been more liberal than those of the previous one (even if adjustments are made for the War on Terrorism). But there are many issues on which Bush has betrayed conservative principles. At a previous entry here, Mr. Schramm pointed out articles about discontent with Bush from social conservatives and from our nation’s "defense establishment."

Many people can attempt to justify this administration’s actions by appealing to pragmatism, talking about the need for compromise and "triangulation," or some other similar type of rhetoric. Perhaps this view is also held by many people at the Ashbrook Center. (And I realize that, like with many policy institutes and think tanks, the Center’s leadership and staff does not have a unified position on many issues, possibly including this one.)

But an organization named after John M. Ashbrook ("No Left Turns!") should perhaps be especially critical of the policies of this administration, and should be supportive of opposition to the GOP Establishment. Other conservative organizations have done this before... For example, the American Conservative Union endorsed Pat Buchanan in the 1992 Republican primaries against the incumbent President George Herbert Walker Bush.

On November 14, I posted a question at this weblog, asking about how the leadership of the Ashbrook Center felt about the Iraq war. I pointed out there that some conservative and pro-liberty organizations have been opposing it (for many conservative policy organizations and think tanks, their leaderships were split over the issue of this war). Did most of the leadership of the Ashbrook Center support this war? What type of foreign policy vision do they subscribe to?

Also, with regard to the aforementioned issues and President Bush, is the Center officially supporting the President for re-election? Many other conservative organizations have been criticizing the administration, and have also criticized policies such as the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security (which are mentioned in this entry).

Thank you, and keep up the good work.

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