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LEFT FIELD Stand By Your Man n late February, Marvin Olasky took a beating in the secu lar press when one of his syndicated columns complained about reporters with “holes in their souls.” One of those reporters, The New York Times’ Frank Rich, responded in one of his Saturday columns. Of the University of Texas journalism professor who serves as Bush’s religion and faithbased charity advisor, Rich wrote: Bob Jones IV wrote a cover story for a rag called World magazine slapping around the McCain family. Mr. Bush had nothing to do with this “religio-political sleaze” as William Safire described it, either, though World is edited by Marvin Olasky, the sometime Bush adviser who invented, if you please, “compassionate conservatism.” Now Mr. Olasky [has written a piece] for the Austin American-Statesman implying that journalists who are critical of Mr. Bush have “holes in their souls,” practice “the religion of Zeus” and are therefore hostile to the Texas governor’s Christianity. The only three journalists he cites by name happen by total coincidence to be Jewish \(Bill Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard are the coincidence that Mr. Olasky, a former Jew who converted to Christianity over twenty years ago, has spun this theory at a moment when Pat Robertson is targeting Mr. Rudman, the most visible Jew in the McCain campaign. Mr. Olasky phoned me but only after his column prompted embarrassing national press calls to the Bush campaign to reassure me that of course he’s not an antiSemite. Whew! He still hasn’t told me whether the religion of Zeus goes in for Bar Mitzvahs. In a subsequent column Olasky responded that he had “no knowledge” of the religious affiliations of the columnists he cited, and “that Rich should make such a crazy charge [of anti-Semitism] shows how ugly New York politics has become.” Now the Institute for Democracy Studies is pushing Olasky back into the news cycle, using an interview he did with the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 1998 to flog an I.D.S. report on the growth of “antifeminist organizations.” Among the enclosures with the I.D.S. “Antifeminist Organizations: Institutionalizing the Backlash” is a photocopy of an Olasky interview with the editors of the quarterly publication of something called the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Olasky’s interview includes his standard mix of ersatz sociology and biblicism. In the 1950s, people were moving to the suburbs. You had the introduction of a number of labor-saving devices in the home. Add to this the fact that the federal government was expanding its social welfare programs. Previously this work had been done by community and churchbased organizations, mffed largely by female volunteers. Now it was being done by government-paid professionals…. One result was a lot of lonely women, removed from their roots, who didn’t have a produc W. Bush devotee Marvin Olasky tive way to spend their time. Olasky uses Betty Friedan as his straw woman, arguing that her The Feminine Mystique was written out of this context, and her suggestion to these lonely suburban women was that they join the work force. “This they have done,” Olasky observes, “with dire consequences for society as a whole.” Olasky concludes with an empirical observation somewhat surprising from a professor of journalism \(the course, feminism has led to increased poverty among women.” He is on sounder biblical ground when he describes the role of women in politics: God does not forbid women to be leaders in society, generally speaking, but when that ‘occurs it’s usually because of the abdication of men. As in the situation of Deborah and Barak, there’s a certain shame attached. I could vote for a woman for the ,presidency in some situations, but again there’s a certain shame attached. Why don’t you have a man who’s able to step forward? God’s Word says very plainly that an elder is to be a man; he is to be the husband of one wife. It’s harder when there are women who are CEO’s on companies and so forth. Still, it comes down to the question of “Do we trust in God and do we believe that He has wisdom that we don’t have?” Olasky’s argument should helpfully eliminate Liddy Dole and Christine Todd Whitman from the short list of GWB’s potential running mates. It also raises the question of whether Bush will distance himself from Olasky’ s loopy anti-feminism, which is unlikely to appeal to your average soccer mom. The latter seems dubious; Bush will win or lose with Marvin: The Governor wrote the introduction to Olasky’ s forthcoming book, Compassionate Conservatism. “Marvin is compassionate conservatism’s leading thinker,” Bush writes. The book \(out in it will provide some insight into Bush’s odd mix of religion and politics. By a copy before you vote. Buy two copies and send one to Christi Whitman.+ APRIL 14, 2000 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER