John McCaslin

"Your item 'Stop the Presses,' expressing surprise at (White House Chief of Staff) Andrew Card's willingness to refer to (Supreme Court nominee) Judge John Roberts as a 'conservative,' leads me to ask you a question that has been long on my mind.

"Namely: What is it that a conservative wants to conserve?"

So writes William M. Stell of McLean, Va., who points out that at one time in U.S. history, "conservatives wanted to conserve slavery. Somewhat later, an objective of conservatism was to conserve segregation. Certainly, neither of those aims is an issue for conservatives today. So what is it we are trying to conserve?

"One answer is the Constitution as written. Another is the Constitution as interpreted. The latter, for example, could uphold Roe v. Wade. But that doesn't sound right. So please help me out. What is it that conservatives seek to conserve?"

Well, Mr. Stell, we found 24 definitions of what it is a conservative seeks to conserve in this modern age - everything from power granted to the states to the death penalty.

Obviously, the most common political definition of a conservative is somebody who respects tradition and authority, resisting at the same time wholesale or sudden changes (particularly, one would assume, changes proposed by liberals).

Another definition labels conservative "a mere synonym for right-wing" ("conservative Democrats" we know on Capitol Hill would disagree).

Each definition is equally intriguing in and of itself, from "Bible thumping" to a "bourgeois mentality."

Then there's this description of a conservative, credited to Newsweek: "(U)nimaginatively conventional . . . in the buttoned-down, dull-gray world."


Speaking of being confused, an unnamed official at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office wants to know what J.B. Poersch, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meant this week when he said that newly appointed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton was "a hot-headed pseudo-diplomat who shouldn't be a bureaucrat in the patent office, let alone our sole representative to the United Nations."


The nonpartisan American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund, which claims it neither supports nor endorses any political party or candidate, reveals that Democrats are as guilty as Republicans when it comes to vote fraud, intimidation and suppression during the 2004 presidential election.

A new ACVR report finds that while Democrats have routinely accused Republicans of voter abuse during the last November election, "neither party has a clean record on the issue."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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