10 Points in 5 Minutes

January 26, 1995|By GEORGE F. WILL

WASHINGTON — Washington. -- President Clinton is looking for love in all the wrong places, with fatuities like a ''middle-class bill of rights'' and banalities like another increase in the minimum wage. He could add 10 easy points to his approval rating without spending a dime or more than five minutes of his time. But before saying how, consider how life has felt to many Americans during recent decades of in-your-face government.

Their children have been bused away from neighborhood schools. Their children have come home from school, using the condoms they got there as bookmarks in the books they got there (''Heather Has Two Mommies'' and ''Daddy Has a Roommate''), condoms that are facets of sex education designed to compensate for the presumed backwardness of the parents.

They have seen courts concoct myriad constitutional impediments to the execution of even vicious killers, and have seen courts make it problematic for parents even to be notified when their minor children want to have abortions.

They have seen their nation's electoral map smeared with congressional districts shaped like roadkill so that some government-certified victim group can enjoy an entitlement to send one of its own to Washington.

They have seen the federal government weave a racial, ethnic and sexual spoils system, the premise of which is that life in America is so dismal that about 280 percent of the population qualifies for victim status. (A Hispanic-surnamed lesbian qualifies three times over -- four if she is ''disabled'' by the ''stress'' of working.)

They have been called Yahoos for objecting to their tax dollars being used to display photographs of bullwhips in rectums and crucifixes in jars of urine.

They have recently seen their tax dollars finance the writing of ideologically tendentious standards for the teaching of history (19 references to McCarthyism, none to Edison; the foundings of the Sierra Club and National Organization for Women are considered momentous; so are Prudence Crandell and Speckled Snake).

The Smithsonian Institution, like the history standards, is besotted with the cranky anti-Americanism of the campuses where the American left has gone to lick its wounds, rationalize its irrelevance and teach the humanities as an indictment of America as a blemish on Western civilization, which itself is considered a blemish on the planet.

Four years ago the Smithsonian produced an ''art'' exhibit, ''The West as America,'' wherein westward expansion was portrayed as an alloy of only three elements -- capitalist rapacity, genocide and ecocide. And now the Smithsonian is hip-deep in another morass of its own making.

For the 50th anniversary this August of Hiroshima, the Smithsonian is planning to display the fuselage of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the bomb. The Smithsonian wants to portray Japan as yet another victim of racist, imperialist America.

Said the Smithsonian's initial script, ''For most Americans, this . . . was a war of vengeance. For most Japanese it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western imperialism.'' Never mind that the Japanese used bayonets to try to pin their unique culture to Manchuria, China, Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

Washington knows what the Smithsonian is up to, thanks to the reporting of the Washington Post's Ken Ringle and the Post's editorials. (''Incredibly propagandistic and intellectually shabby,'' said the Post of the Smithsonian's initial plans.)

On television last Sunday the president's chief of staff, Leon Panetta, was asked if he understood how annoying the Smithsonian's antics are to many people.

He said: We are in a ''transition period'' and people are ''angry about a lot of things'' -- government, their security, their children's future -- and we need ''tough decisions'' and not ''simplified answers.''

Mr. Panetta's questioner tried again, asking if Mr. Panetta can sympathize with people who say, ''Can't the government in Washington even display artifacts without attacking the country?''

Mr. Panetta replied that ''there are legitimate views on all sides of difficult issues like that.''

Until Democrats -- what is the matter with them? -- stop talking such mush about assaults on the nation's values and honor, their party will continue to wither. But suppose Mr. Panetta's boss strode into the White House press room and, with appropriate podium-pounding, declared:

''Heads are going to roll and funds are going to become scarce at the Smithsonian unless the cloth-headed, condescending perpetrators of such insulting rubbish quit using our money to tell us that our nation is nasty and that we are philistines for resenting it when our betters tutor us about our nation's sinfulness.'' Etc.

Five minutes, maximum. Ten points, minimum.

George F. Will is a syndicated columnist.

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