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For the week of January 24 through 30, 2001

Harsh four years?

It may be the shortest presidential honeymoon in history.

Normally, a new American president takes a little time to settle into the Oval Office and get his desk organized before taking on the most controversial issues in the country.

Not so President George W. Bush. The suit he wore to eight inaugural balls was still at the dry cleaners when he popped the top off his pen and cut off funding to international family planning clinics that have anything to do with abortion—even if U.S. funds are not spent to provide abortions.

Bush took the action on the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in this country.

President Clinton had restored funding on the same day eight years ago, funding that had been cut off during the Reagan era.

The difference? Clinton had won the electoral college and had garnered the winning percentage of the popular vote. Bush did not win the popular vote and came into office under the cloud of the Florida voting fiasco.

Bush’s move inflamed pro-choice groups. It sent others into puzzled trips to their dictionaries. Bush had promised moderation and reconciliation—compassionate conservatism. His action turned the commonly understood definitions of the words on their heads.

The act would have been expected from a newly elected president who had received an overwhelming mandate to play fruitbasket upset with everything wrought under a previous administration. But this president took the oath of office with no mandate whatsoever.

He presides over a deeply divided country. It would seem prudent for a president elected under those circumstances to steer a middle course. Yet, Bush immediately ordered the ship of state to take a hard turn to the radical right.

So much for the honeymoon. Bush apparently didn’t want one. If he continues to shove his misbegotten "mandate" down the throats of Americans, it’s going to be a harsh four years.


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