Let me start by saying I don’t think William Weld is fit to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico or, for that matter, to hold any public office of responsibility. Nevertheless, I don’t believe the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate is going to stop him from serving in that position.

Why? Several reasons. But the key is that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, no matter what he says to the contrary, doesn’t have the stomach for this fight, nor the political savvy to win it.

Last week, Lott said Weld’s nomination was dead in the water because the former governor of Massachusetts was rude to Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms. Helms doesn’t like Weld because he’s soft on drugs — and Mexico now represents an open door on our southern border for the influx of tons of illegal narcotics.

But, let’s face it. Those aren’t the real reasons — and they certainly aren’t the only reasons — Helms, Lott and other conservative Republicans oppose Weld.

Let me give you a better reason to oppose him. Weld is on record as favoring, not only abortion on demand, but partial-birth abortions — a euphemism for a grotesque form of infanticide in which the fully-formed, viable baby is ripped to pieces as it is emerging from the birth canal. Only the most fanatical abortion-at-all-costs extremists — New Age eugenicists like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Gov. Christie Whitman, Gov. Pete Wilson and the like — dare to condone this hideous procedure. Mexico, let me remind you, is still overwhelmingly a Catholic country.

Weld is also on the cutting edge of promoting special rights for homosexuals, lesbians and, the latest politically correct sexual proclivity, “transgendered.”

Weld has used Massachusetts public schools to promote homosexual recruitment of students. This is not an exaggeration. There is simply no other way to characterize his activism on this issue accurately.

In other words, Weld is a social radical. But Trent Lott and most Republicans are uncomfortable taking on characters like this. They don’t know how to debate these issues and win. They half-believe the phony polls that say people actually support the corrupt social revolution that has been engineered, not with grass-roots support, but in the media, the academy and the courts.

So you won’t hear about any of this stuff during the debate on Weld. Instead, the issues will be drugs and rudeness. And on those issues the Republican leadership loses.

You see, Weld can handle himself on the drug issue. He demonstrated that Sunday during his appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” He does not sound like a radical drug pusher — and, in fairness, he’s not. William F. Buckley Jr. has a more radical stand on legalizing drugs. I doubt very much Trent Lott and Jesse Helms would deny him the ambassadorship to Mexico over it. Is there a tiny bit of hypocrisy and disingenuousness here? You bet.

If the Republican leadership is so concerned about drugs entering the United States illegally, they ought to establish a vigorous, full-scale investigation of the goings-on at Mena Airport in Arkansas and President Clinton’s involvement in it. They ought to investigate why drug use among young people is skyrocketing at an unprecedented rate since Clinton became president. But, again, Trent Lott isn’t serious about a war on drugs.

The Republicans will lose the rudeness argument, too. Jesse Helms may be a principled conservative. But he does not enjoy wide popularity across the United States. His character has been attacked so broadly by the establishment press that most people — perhaps 75 percent — probably have an overall negative opinion of him.

That’s why Weld is publicly pushing for a fair hearing on his nomination. If he gets one, he knows he wins. Because his opposition is afraid to attack him on his biggest weaknesses.

All this is illustrative of the sad state of the Republican Party in general. It is a party in search of an identity. William Weld represents one extreme of that party. He knows what he stands for. The other end of the spectrum can’t really articulate it or is afraid to try.

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