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Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 12/23/2005 [Archive]

Highlights of 2005

2005ís Greatest Hits

The Middle East, partisan politics, big government, freedom, energy, media bias -- those debatable perennials were the big issues of 2005. What follows are highlights from Q&A's with some of the top pundits, professors, experts, gurus and politicos we interviewed this year.

The Middle East

The U.N. not being on our side had nothing to do with Iraq. It was a function of the French position on Iraq. Period. The French were opposed to our position on Iraq, start to finish. And that had everything to do with Franceís economic interest and its longstanding, tight relationships with Saddam HusseinÖ.

-- Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

We need to proceed with a good deal more humility and reflection when we act internationally. We donít have all the answers. We donít have absolute power to remake the world as we would wish it to be.

-- Larry Diamond, author of "Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq."

I donít trust the post office to deliver the mail and all of a sudden you get conservatives trusting government to create a brand new society in a place that has remained unchanged for thousands of years.

--Tucker Carlson, MSNBC pundit

Certainly there's not a mass movement in favor of American imperialism. But whether you call it an empire or not, that's the reality for the American role in the world today.

-- Max Boot, columnist

The character of the regime in Tehran dictates everything. A pluralistic, post-theocratic government in Iran will make the nuclear issue much less of a concern, will make Iran no longer the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, and will make it a source of stability, not instability, in the Persian Gulf.

-- Ilan Berman, author of "Tehran Rising"

I don't think there is any doubt that we will see a weapon of mass destruction used by the bad guys. It could be tomorrow, it could be five years from now, but it's bound to happen.

-- Arnaud de Borchgrave, journalist

Politics

Grass-roots citizen involvement is the only way to get really large-scale change in Washington.

-- Newt Gingrich, author of "Winning the Future"

Iím not pleased at the direction our party is headed on fiscal responsibility. We donít look very conservative at all.

-- Jeff Flake, Republican congressman from Arizona

In the long run, it's the ideas, it's the great figures, it's the inspirational figures who define a political party and shape in people's mind an image of what that party is and what it stands for.

-- Tony Snow, Fox News Radio

Hillaryís life is a sham. Her life, the essential core of her life, is a sham. That marriage is a sham.

-- Ed Klein, author of "The Truth About Hillary"

The instinct of some conservatives has been to dismiss some of these people. For example, to think of MoveOn as crazy hippies, or to think of Michael Moore as a kook, or to think of George Soros as an eccentric billionaire. But these people created something pretty powerful, and they have a long-term plan.

-- Byron York, author of "The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy"

The traditional black leadership that came up out of the Civil Rights Movement -- every single one -- are on the wrong side of history for black Americans. They want socialism. This is a capitalistic society. In order to be successful here, you better get into the capitalistic end of things.

-- Star Parker, columnist

Iím really impressed with the public. The electorate really sees through all this crap. They understand free trade. They understand low, flat-rate taxes. They understand sound money. The electorate is really cool. Iím superbly impressed by democracy -- and Iím not natively that way inclined.

-- Arthur Laffer, economist and father of supply side economics

Media

It used to be that a lot of the major executives and stars were open, unapologetic Republicans. John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable were open campaigners for the GOP. Today, it is extremely rare to find people in Hollywood who will have anything to do with the Republicans.

-- Michael Medved, talk show host

"South Park" is unlike anything that precedes it in the history of popular cultureÖ. Its politics are very strange and atypical of what you would find coming from Hollywood. It's a show that has mocked hate-crime legislation, environmentalism, multiculturalism, even abortion rights, and a host of liberal celebritiesÖ.

-- Brian Anderson, author of "South Park Conservatives"

In the great worldwide marketplace of ideas, itís fine to have Bill Moyers do a show and John Stossel do a show. I just donít think the taxpayers should pay for one and not the other.

-- David Boaz, libertarian author/commentator

Energy

It really is an issue of national security and national competitiveness more than it is a desire by major oil companies to go into ANWR. They can produce energy in any place in the world. They are not the strong proponents of opening ANWR. It's people like me who want to see $1.5 billion every month stay here in the United States instead of being sent overseas to buy oil in the future.

-- Gale Norton, secretary of energy

High prices are in a way their own solution. The high crude oil prices are inspiring new projects to extract known reserves of petroleum that were too expensive to extract economically in the past at lower prices.

-- Trilby Lundberg, gasoline guru and publisher of the Lundberg Survey

Global worrying

There is no doubt that global warming is happening. I have no doubt that there is a combination of natural warming of a kind we've had 18 times over the past 1.8 million years, plus some measure of human causation. But the fact of the matter is, even if we continue on as we are, nature will say to this planet, "It is time to go back to the norm," which is glaciation, and it will happen no matter what we do.

-- Harm de Blij, geographer

Freedom

All authority ... should be challenged, should be questioned. Because government is the negation of freedom, when it does anything, it shouldn't be presumed valid. It should be presumed invalid.

-- Judge Andrew Napolitano, author of "Constitutional Chaos"

Most Americans are flabbergasted that their government would try to take someoneís home to give it to a Home Depot.... The problem is, people with a lot of influence and power -- like political figures and developers -- have joined forces to try to get these projects through.

-- Scott Bullock, Institute for Justice lawyer who argued the Kelo eminent domain case before the U.S. Supreme Court

Historians have certain presidents they like -- and you can tell the presidents they like because they are always the presidents that centralize power and increase the power of the federal government.

-- Thomas Woods, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History"

The Patriot Act actually increases rather than decreases the protection of constitutional rights, because it has more requirements for judges to issue warrants or subpoenas, so there is more inter-positioning of judicial authority than there was before the Patriot Act.

-- Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General of the United States

Iím a libertarian. But thatís kind of an easy stance to be if youíre a humor columnist, because youíre tending to make fun of the government and the powerful.

-- Dave Barry, humorist

Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at bsteigerwald@tribweb.com. ©Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, All Rights Reserved.

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