The no-tax man

President Bill Clinton had many flaws, some more notorious than others. But whatever Clinton’s failings, he had the political backbone to defy his own party when he believed the greater good of the nation was at stake. He earned the enmity of unions by supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement and alienated liberals by signing the welfare reform bill. Perhaps most important, he moved his party back to the political middle by endorsing government spending limits and a balanced federal budget.

President George W. Bush is no Bill Clinton. In some areas that is a welcome relief. In others, it may prove disastrous. Bush seems utterly incapable of making a decision that is not calculated to bolster the most conservative factions of his party. The president’s fatuous Middle East "peace initiative" is a case in point. He has demanded the ouster of Yasir Arafat and the wholesale reform of Palestinian society, before the United States will support negotiations for a Palestinian state. Such a "plan" seems designed to stroke Republican hawks eager to "get on to Baghdad" and Christian conservatives who support Israel’s territorial expansion rather than to address the reality and complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

On domestic issues the president is even more calculating. From the loosening of EPA standards and an energy policy designed by industry bigwigs to the mantra for tax cuts, Bush is...

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