Washington gains a friend in Canberra.Sep 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 03 • By ROSS TERRILL
Canberra has joined Tokyo and other U.S. allies in Asia by electing a conservative government vowing less tax on business, robust defense, support for the United States, and guarded cooperation with China. A big victory in Australia’s national election on September 7 for Tony Abbott’s Liberal-Nationals ends six years of political tumult under Labor.
The last Liberal-National government, under John Howard (1996-2007), in which Abbott held domestic portfolios, was followed by revolving-door rule under Kevin Rudd (capable but erratic) and Julia Gillard (a creature of the unions). The pair fought like cats and governed one after the other by shuffling policies in line with poll numbers. “The circus has got to stop,” Abbott snapped in a campaign debate with Rudd. Labor, now with only 50-odd seats in Parliament to Abbott’s 90-odd, is on the ropes as seldom before in its distinguished history as Australia’s oldest party.
In the face of Labor’s death spiral, voters, although grown soft on government largesse, serenely chose a very conservative prime minister. Abbott once told me of Labor’s spendthrift years under Gough Whitlam (1972-75), “Fiscally, it was a lunatic’s existence.” He said launching his campaign: “Government’s job is rarely to tell people what to do. Mostly, it’s to make it easier for people to make their own choices.” Holding power in Canberra and enjoying Liberal-National rule in all the major states, Abbott will axe an unfortunate carbon emissions tax and a punitive tax on mining. “We will restore an appetite for risk and investment,” said incoming finance chief Andrew Robb.
Abbott recently told Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal, “All successful societies are inherently conservative, and Australia is undeniably a successful society.” He eschews Black Armband talk (the Aussie term for the self-flagellation of Australian intellectuals for past treatment of Aborigines and other shortcomings). He told Kissel: “The Rudd-Gillard government has been a highly statist government, the Brown government reverted to statism with a vengeance in Britain, and Barack Obama is the most left-of-center [U.S.] government in at least half a century.” Only Abbott’s generous ears give him a point in common with Obama.
Abbott has a quick tongue, and he rashly said Syria’s tragedy is “baddies versus baddies.” In 2008 he enraged a left enamored of Obama by saying, “He sounds terrific but I don’t know what’s really there” (the remark improves with age). When Mandarin-speaking Rudd struck a horrendous patch with Beijing, Abbott said Australia’s relationship with China “has not noticeably strengthened despite the change [from Howard] to a prime minister who can speak to the Chinese in their own language.”
Australia sees itself as a bridge to the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, much as Texas sees itself as a bridge to the Latin world. Canberra proved its muscle-power in the first area in 1999 over East Timor and in 2003 over the Solomon Islands; the central country in Southeast Asia is Indonesia, whose current relations with Australia are good (and important to U.S. interests). You would think this area should be Australia’s security sphere. But the internationalists in the Australian foreign ministry and most pundits would never be content with such a modest role. Defense planners talk of “Indo-Pacific” as the “system” of which Australia is part.
As in Washington, the two sides exhibit differences in China policy. Labor includes panda lovers but also some who make human rights central in dealings with Beijing. Abbott’s broad tent has a majority for business-as-usual, but a minority as wary of Beijing as Labor idealists are. A neat package in China policy is elusive.
Abbott and his articulate foreign minister, Julie Bishop, plan to state Australia’s interests, listen to China’s, and do business on that basis, following Howard’s approach. Under Howard, trade with China grew an astonishing 626 percent in a decade, yet he told an audience at the Communist Party School in Beijing that hectored him about meeting the Dalai Lama: “If it was good enough for Australians to tolerate the continuation of the Communist party as a legal entity, it ought to be good enough for Chinese to tolerate the leader of a friendly country [Australia] allowing the Dalai Lama to visit and to see him.”
They were just as conservative.Jun 17, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 38 • By JAY COST
Former senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole had some harsh words for his political party recently. In a Fox News Sunday interview, Chris Wallace asked, “You describe the GOP of your generation as Eisenhower Republicans, moderate Republicans. Could people like Bob Dole, even Ronald Reagan—could you make it in today’s Republican party?” Dole replied, “I doubt it. Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, ’cause he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:00 PM, Apr 8, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with William Kristol on the rise of Margaret Thatcher and the lessons for today's GOP.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:38 PM, Mar 15, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with Michael Warren, live from CPAC. Will conservatives find a new way forward? Hosted by Michael Graham.
2:05 PM, Mar 13, 2013 • By FRED BAUER
Four of the most lamentably omitted words in American politics are the following: "in this present crisis." Conventional references to Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address note his declaration that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Reagan actually said, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Omitting those first four words does a significant damage to the legacy of Reagan---and also poses problems for the future of conservatism and the GOP after 2012.
5:57 PM, Jan 7, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
At the Washington Post, Jen Rubin writes of a renewed interest in compassionate conservatism, citing Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, Republican Paul Ryan, and Gertrude Himmelfarb, writing in THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Here's Rubin:
How to turn a successful majority coalition into a perpetual election-losing machineNov 19, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 10 • By SAM SCHULMAN
Oct 29, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 07 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Viewers of the 2012 debates have witnessed an extraordinary turnaround. John Stuart Mill famously spoke of “a party of order and stability, and a party of progress or reform.” Once upon a time, Barack Obama and Joe Biden could claim the mantle of change and progress. But the televised exchanges between Mitt Romney and Obama and Paul Ryan and Biden have revealed that this is no longer the case.
6:00 AM, Oct 19, 2012 • By JAY COST
Naturally, there has been plenty of talk this week about who won the debate. As I mentioned in my own recap, I thought that though Obama won more “points,” Romney did a better job advancing his argument for election.
2:01 PM, Sep 26, 2012 • By FRANK CANNON and JEFFREY BELL
When Republican strategists like Karl Rove cite 1980 as a model for this year’s election, they usually have in mind two main elements: Ronald Reagan’s question in the late October presidential debate about whether voters felt better off than four years earlier, when they elected Jimmy Carter, and Reagan’s ability in that debate to reassure swing voters about his ability to serve successfully if elected, converting a very close race into a ten-point blowout by “closing the deal.”
It’s a dead heat between the aggressive liberal and the decisive manager.
Sep 17, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 01 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
One day after the Democratic convention ended here, and a week after the Republican convention wrapped up in Tampa, and American politics is basically all tied up. Here’s the top line on Real Clear Politics 60 days before November 6: The RCP average for the presidential race shows a dead heat (Obama +0.7 percentage points), the Senate is 46-46 with 8 tossups, and the generic congressional ballot is tied.
9:01 AM, Jan 24, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In an interesting portion of last night’s Republican presidential debate, moderator Brian Williams asked, “Governor Romney…what have you done to further the cause of conservatism as a Republican leader?”
Democracy flourishes with conflict.Jan 30, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 19 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
We have Occupy Wall Street to thank for the already grating tendency among pundits to sort the American people by percentages. The possibilities for such categorization are endless. There are, of course, the 1 percent of Americans who make more than $516,000 a year and the 99 percent who do not. But there are also the 21 percent of Americans who identify as liberal and the
Ideological divisions in the GOP are not exactly news. Jan 16, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 17 • By ALONZO L. HAMBY
The first master’s thesis defense committee on which I served, more years ago than I care to count, evaluated an effort titled “Liberal Deviations of Robert A. Taft, 1945-1953.” As a young assistant professor still intoxicated by a heady academic liberal consensus, I was prone to dismiss the author’s assertion that Senator Taft was something more than an iron-hearted reactionary.
2:55 PM, Apr 20, 2011 • By JOHN P. MCCONNELL
One of my favorite Bill Rusher stories is from the 1984 presidential campaign, when he and Jeane Kirkpatrick faced off against Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank on the question of Reagan vs. Mondale. Poor Senator Dodd had to contend with this impossible query from Bill Rusher: “On the invasion of Grenada, do you agree with Mr. Mondale that it was justified, or with Ms. Ferraro that it wasn’t?”