The wise and the powerful of Washington would say the dust has long settled after the mostly unreported battle over President Bush’s strange choice of Paul Cellucci as ambassador to Canada. But on May 1 White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card made an astonishing statement to the Boston Herald. What he revealed suggests that the White House still feels the shock waves that this relatively minor appointment provoked.

Card embarrassed Cellucci, a close friend, by revealing that the former Massachusetts governor had asked Bush for a Cabinet position rather than the much lower-ranking job he got. This flatly contradicts Cellucci himself, who had denied having been interested in a Cabinet position.

Almost cruelly, Card added that the president very quickly decided that Cellucci was definitely not Cabinet material. Card’s portrayal of his friend as a Washington wannabe could have served no purpose other than soothing the anger of the dozens of pro-family groups that adamantly opposed Cellucci as a moral reprobate.

The White House cannot deny that it has paid an unexpected price for the appointment. Besides adding to social conservatives’ doubts about this President Bush, this appointment did nothing to fortify his reputation in the realm of foreign affairs. In choosing Cellucci, Mr. Bush showed a disturbing unawareness of a great political and social crisis dividing America’s most intimate ally and trading partner.

Within two weeks of the word of the impending nomination, Cellucci’s policy of funding sexually explicit homosexual propaganda in public schools under the strategic cover of “tolerance” programs had become a fairly well known secret in the U.S. and Canada. So also had his de facto hand-over of Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court to Planned Parenthood lawyers.

Massachusetts parents’ rights groups spread word via the Internet and e-mail, bypassing the mainstream Boston media’s Bolshevik-style blackout of some rather eye-opening information. As the ugly details sped from one Internet address to another, three dozen citizens’ groups representing millions of voters in every state signed a joint letter to every member of the U.S. Senate firmly opposing Cellucci’s nomination. At least a half-dozen other groups sent letters in protest.

“Ho hum,” sighed the Boston Globe, the Herald and every television and radio outfit in town. “No news there.”

In a historical precedent, 13 Canadian citizens groups wrote the president and the Senate to say as politely as possible that they’d prefer Mr. Cellucci didn’t bring his toxic ideological waste to their country. They warned President Bush that the nomination had disappointed millions of Canadians and was “a depressing outcome of the election of an American president who ran on a platform of traditional values.”

In stark contrast to their searching out and fanning every spark of opposition to John Ashcroft, the major news media, even in Boston, still saw no news fit for the unwashed public.

President Bush could hardly have selected a Republican ambassador more ideologically appealing to Boston’s incestuous, dogma-drenched news media. The likes of Sens. Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry went to bat for their Republican former nemesis, assuring all that this was a remarkably “uncontroversial” nomination. Even pro-family conservatives in the Senate were caught mouthing that for the smirking media.

But one would have had to search hard to find an ambassador, Democrat or Republican, more offensive to so many Canadians.

To understand why, Americans should consider the situation at home. Geographic analysis of the recent presidential election reveals the Democratic Party sway over most of urban America.

In some neighborhoods this is because of sympathy for the party’s post-modern ideology. In other neighborhoods it is attributable to lingering ethnic loyalties to the Democrats of the ’60s and a felt dependence on government entitlements. For Catholic, Hispanic and African-American voters, this often means turning a blind eye to the Democrats’ stance on moral issues.

In contrast, the suburban and rural areas are overwhelmingly distrustful of the Democrats, their rhetoric and their values. Within a given state the national pattern usually holds: the values and rhetoric of the modern Democratic Party find few takers outside the cities.

In Canada, the intermittent efforts of francophone separatist politicians to break Quebec away from Canada have been reported south of the border over the last three decades. But a more fundamental schism has appeared in Canada. It is the same moral and philosophical war that is splitting American society. That is why Mr. Bush and his advisers should have no trouble understanding it.

In Canada the geography of this fracture threatens the survival of strong central government. Mostly rural western Canada is largely united in asserting two propositions on which they are unprepared to yield:

The first is that the economic dogmas and policies of big government are not only failed and belong in the “trash heap of history,” but are authoritarian and contrary to the principles of limited democratic government and are thus to be resisted.

The second proposition is that traditional Judeo-Christian morality is neither inherently evil nor has it been rendered obsolete by any new scientific or sociological revelation to mankind.

Decades of condescending rhetoric in the media, government and academia that “tolerance” and “diversity” require enlightened Canadians to abandon Judeo-Christian morality have somehow not convinced a part of Canada that stretches from Western Ontario to the Pacific.

Millions of Canadians remain about as sure as ever, for example, that families as they have always been understood are the indispensable unit of human society and that public institutions — yes, even idealistic teachers — and certainly an ethically adrift mass media, are dubious sources of moral authority for children.

Western Canada takes profound offense at the presumption that “diversity” and “tolerance” are good for the prairie goose but not good for the politically correct urban gander.

The depth of their anger and determination is suggested by the existence of the Canadian Alliance, a new political party that has virtually replaced the Conservative Party in Parliament.

For Americans to comprehend this, they have to imagine the Republican Party shrinking to a size not far beyond the reach of Ralph Nader’s Green Party. They have to imagine it being replaced by a brand new party which expresses a widespread resolve to just say “no” to big government and to demolishing traditional moral values — and to keep on saying “no” until that message gets through.

Failure to get that message through would mean to many that it is time to dissolve Canada. For them, “no” means, plainly, “no.”

In a Canada torn by the Brave New World social dogmas of the “cultural elite,” Paul Cellucci strikes many Canadians as an Islamic fundamentalist American ambassador would strike Israelis, or as an IRA sympathizer would strike the British if chosen as Washington’s man in the United Kingdom.

As word has circulated in Canada about how the power and resources of Massachusetts’ state government are routinely handed over to radical homosexual groups — whose stated goal is to use schools to indoctrinate children, without parents’ knowledge — a bitter irony has been noted by Western Canada: Cellucci was sent by an American president who they hoped and believed represented a new direction in Washington and a fresh wind from south of the border.

“We were really looking for good news from the United States to encourage us in our own fight,” said the president of the grass-roots organization, sighing. “We really had higher hopes for George Bush.”

So had American social conservatives, and Andrew Card’s strange statement suggests that someone heard the distant rumbling from outside the cities.

John Haskins is acting executive director of the Parents Rights Coalition.

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