FIRST THINGS: The State of Social Conservatism

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And Last night’s State of the Union address didn’t mention faith-based initatives, which President Bush once claimed would be his great legacy. Of course, it didn’t mention abortion or stem cells, either—in part because such speeches are designed to avoid controversy, and in part because the social-conservative domestic agenda seems dead in the last years of this administration. The White House may hold the line on whatever gains it feels it has already made, but it also signaled last night that it won’t be pushing hard for anything. School choice and judges each got a sentence, the only elements of social conservatism to surface in the speech.

The rest of the post outlines why lame-duck presidents lack power, and this one most of all. Lack of an heir, no clear legacy, a Democratic Congress opposing him…

Social conservatives certainly didn’t find much to cheer about last night. But truth be told, this isn’t the first time Bush has had to share power with Democrats. In fact, it was this feature of his gubernatorial leadership in Texas that propelled him into the presidency in 2000 — working with Democrats.

Perhaps Bush is finally in his element?

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