Fenger Pointing

Becky Fenger | December 3, 2008

Becky FengerCruising – Part II

Last week (Nov. 26) I wrote about National Review's "2008 Post Election Cruise" which I was fortunate enough to take to the Caribbean. Listening to the discussion panels, I could only imagine what it was like when William F. Buckley, Jr. was aboard for the last 20 plus years to commandeer the intellectual gymnastics. One participant recalled that Buckley actually posed one entire question in Latin!

Many voters complained during the campaign that the bickering and backstabbing of candidates was a turn off for them, and claimed that positive ads would move them more than negative messages. Brent Bozell, the founder and president of the Media Research Center, disagrees. "Mr. Whipple and negative ads are both effective," he said. "So is media bias, even though people hate it." He guesses that it will be a four-year honeymoon between the media and Barack Obama. He warned that enacting the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" (which would stifle conservative voices on talk radio) would be the No. 1 priority for liberals. That and the equally misnamed "Employee Free Choice Act," aka "Card Check," which would enable union thugs to intimidate workers into unionizing. Participants encouraged us to be up and ready for the fight.

Writer Deroy Murdock said that conservatives are "too nice" when engaging the opposition. Boy, do I agree with this statement. When are we ever going to learn that attempting to appease liberals is a futile endeavor that will only result in compromised principles? Why must we show them our good will when we get kicked in the teeth for it? I like to say that "Liberals lie better than conservatives tell the truth." (A friend used it a number of years ago, and I have stolen it fair and square ever since.) The Fairness Doctrine and "Card Check" are perfect examples.

Presidential candidate Fred Thompson told the audience that the Republicans are going to have to get used to the new rules. "Up until now, filibusters were a bad thing. Now they're a good thing. We've got to get that straight," he joked.

Mitt Romney quipped, "I wish there were a vast right-winged conspiracy!" Bozell nailed it when he said: "We focused on getting the most electable Republican. We need instead to focus on picking the most electable conservatives." Touché.

One of my favorite speakers was Rev. Robert A Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a free-market educational organization that teaches future religious leaders about the principles of the market economy. Dynamite concept. He's a treasure in basic black. In a discussion of the recent financial bailouts, he stated, "We're enabling our financial institutions to lie." He said he woke up one day to find the whole world collectivized. "I wish Ayn Rand were here to excoriate Alan Greenspan," he grinned.

Father Sirico pointed out an important consideration while we are assessing blame for the financial meltdown: "Free marketers have done this, but it wasn't the fault of free markets." Bingo. He sees a need for a clear and compelling alternative to collectivism. "Free marketers cleaned the gun and handed it to Barack Obama who will have no qualms in pulling the trigger," he predicts.

Former U.S. Rep. and director of the Club for Growth Pat Toomey told us that the Club urged a "no" vote on the bailout. He noted that the banks had been working out a solution before the bailout. "There were winners and losers, and the market was sorting itself out. You heard, 'The credit markets were frozen and banks stopped lending to each other' but about 80 percent of commercial borrowings are outside the banking system anyway," he said. As to forcing the bailout money on banks who did not want it: "That's chilling," he shuttered, "but Hank Paulson got away with it."

"Even worse will be the psychological and moral consequences," said Father Sirico. "With no direct personal responsibility, it will result in the tragedy of the Commons."

What irks me is that John McCain had 30 advisors telling him that the right thing to do was the bailout. "The debt we are leaving our children amounts to fiscal child abuse," Mitt Romney added. Currently 60 percent of government spending goes to entitlements. "That spending on entitlements will grow to 70 percent in eight years," Mitt predicted. With that, I almost leapt into the sea.