The Economist goes wobbly

by on September 2nd, 2004

I’m not the first to notice that the Economist has lost some objectivity in the previous few years, but this week’s editorial on the Bush presidency was the first to prompt me to write a letter to the editor.

The first clue that something was amiss is the headline in French, but the real problem is that the author seems to have confused the word “objective” with the phrase “equally critical and complimentary.”

The first criticism is that Bush suggested he was going to govern with moderation, but his administration has been radical:

Name your subject, from education and health care to missile defence, AIDS policy, gay marriage, stem cells and civil rights, and this presidency has sought radical change.

I doubt any serious person considers the “No Child Left Behind” act to be radical, but most of the rest of the points are well taken. Bush has indeed been radical on missile defense as he withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to allow us to pursue an effective missile defense. He proposed huge amounts of new funding to prevent AIDS in Africa.

No, wait. That’s all the accurate points.

He has made no radical change in stem cell research. In fact, all he has done is deny Federal funding for stem cells harvested from fetuses.

He has made no radical change in the marriage of people suffering from Same Sex Attraction. They can still, as they have been able to since the beginning of America, marry someone of the opposite sex. Allowing them to marry each other and reaffirm their disorder would be the radical change.

The second claim from the editor is that Bush has abandoned compassionate conservatism:

Where is the compassion in his support for a federal ban on gay marriage, the limitations on stem-cell research or his other moves to accommodate the zealots of the Christian right?

And that’s really the paragraph that spurred me to write in. Got that? “Zealots of the Christian right” are the only ones who oppose gay marriage and the killing of fetuses (feti if you want the proper Latin). Never you mind the fact that significant percentages of the country think the same way–in fact a majority of Americans favor keeping marriage between a man and a woman.

Since this is a European (although thankfully not Continental) editor, perhaps the answer is that the author considers a large majority of Americans to be Christian zealots. In which case I invite him to a duel. As the challenged, he gets first choice of weapons. As an American, I will shoot or cut him down where he stands.

I had expected better of the Economist. Perhaps their new editor will be more objective than the deceased.

I.J. Reilly