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High court pick could save party

Oct. 14, 2005

by JONATHAN LUDWIG, columnist

Boy, if it's not the Democrats at his throat it's the Republicans. Even as embattled President Bush attempts to salvage what remains of his stash of political capital, ominous storm clouds are looming over the future of the Republican Party.

Take Harriet Miers for instance. Her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice almost toppled Senate Republicans out of their big leather chairs -- both out of laughter and horror. How could the wartime president, a man so hardcore about fighting terrorism that little old ladies shudder at the though of airport screeners, suddenly pick a moderate, relatively unknown female lawyer for the Supreme Court?

Well, the answer is something Republicans should have realized: Bush has long been considered by many political scientists to be a moderate in a Halloween costume. For all domestic purposes, he really is.

Remember campaign finance reform? Sure, it was doomed to be rendered almost completely ineffective by the courts. But the president, in the face of conservatives and Limbaughs, didn't wince when he signed it into law. In reality, there's nothing conservative about restricting how and when people can donate to political campaigns. Even so, Bush supported it as a moderate stance to a real, growing problem.

One of the best advantages the Republicans have at the moment is that the Democrats don't understand why they keep losing elections. Already Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., widely expected to run for president in 2008, has begun making conservative-sounding remarks designed to shake her liberal image. Take her comments on immigration:

"I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants," Clinton said in an interview on WABC.

Clinton's statement should illustrate the fact that liberal Democrats can swing to the right and pick up votes as well as Republicans who swing to the left. Case in point: Republicans shouldn't squander the progress they've made in Congress by swinging too far to the right, which will alienate libertarians and moderates who have probably kept Republicans in office.

Democrats keep losing because so many refuse to moderate their stances. If the Republicans do the same, well, expect an influx of donkeys in Washington. Do yourself a favor, conservatives, and confirm Miers.

Jonathan Ludwig is a senior political science and English major from Austin.