George W. Bush is His Father’s Son

by | Aug 14, 2001

[CAPITALISM MAGAZINE.COM] President George W. Bush is his father’s son. In place of principle — right or wrong — we see waffling. His recent approach to the stem-cell research debate illustrates this fact eloquently. The President came up with a decision designed to please everybody. Of course, in the end it pleases nobody and only […]

[CAPITALISM MAGAZINE.COM] President George W. Bush is his father’s son.

In place of principle — right or wrong — we see waffling. His recent approach to the stem-cell research debate illustrates this fact eloquently. The President came up with a decision designed to please everybody. Of course, in the end it pleases nobody and only makes enemies. Liberals are angry at him for not opening the door to fetal tissue research far enough. Conservatives are angry at him for going too far.

If you recall, this is how his father left office after one term, having capitulated on taxes and other issues. Conservatives were too disgusted to support him enthusiastically, while liberals mocked him for his indecision.

Of gravest concern about Bush the younger: His “splitting the difference” approach to what he himself describes as a grave moral issue. We start with the assumption that fetal tissue either is human life or it is not. If a fetus is not a human life, then of course research should be permitted and encouraged. We’re talking here about curing horrifying diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Of course, if you believe that a fetus is human life, then utilizing fetal tissue would be tantamount to a Nazi using the tissue of a murdered Jew for research. It would be utterly unacceptable, as the Catholic Church is trying to argue.

Bush is attempting to have it both ways on an issue where it’s impossible to do so. If you believe a fetus is human life, then research is out of the question. If you believe a fetus is not a human life, the desirability of research is beyond question. Bush is essentially saying: “Well, I kinda sorta feel it’s best to do a little bit of both.” What kind of deep commitment to principle is this supposed to inspire? And how seriously should we take his repeated claim that he gave this decision long and deep, philosophical thought? A few seconds of simple common sense is enough to reveal its utter and obvious contradiction.

I write this as someone who strongly believes abortion is not murder. I hold that a fetus is only a potential life, not an actual life. Therefore, I applaud research on fetal tissue and am hopeful it may lead to cures for terrible diseases such as Parkinson’s. (I also maintain that medical research should be privately funded, not government subsidized, but that’s a different debate).

Imagine if President Bush had declared, “I’m sorry, but I am convinced abortion is murder. I therefore cannot even support the constitutional legality of this research, much less earmark government funds for it.” Agree or disagree, you could at least respect that he has principles and sticks by them.

This is not the first issue where Mr. Bush has “split the difference” in the grand tradition of his father. “Give me a patient’s rights bill I can sign,” he insisted all summer, in the same tone as his father used to say, “Give me a civil rights bill I can sign.” This, despite the fact that a patient’s rights bill was never on his agenda until the Democrats retook the Senate. He didn’t care about a so-called patient’s bill of rights until it became politically popular.

Even on the tax issue, Mr. Bush is his father’s son. He gave in to Democrats by only minimally trimming the marginal tax rate. He also allowed the tax cut to be spread out over ten years, despite his earlier insistence that the economy required immediate relief. He even allowed a sunset provision, whereby a future President or Congress can mandate that the earlier, higher tax rates return. It’s hardly a tax cut Ronald Reagan or even JFK would have accepted. Mr. Bush reportedly will not even consider proposing a capital gains tax cut, despite the fact that President Clinton himself actually signed one into law in the mid-1990’s.

Back in the days of Bush Sr., the President at least had Margaret Thatcher to remind him: “Don’t go wobbly, George!”

Who will keep George Jr. in line?

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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