Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review March 11, 2002 / 27 Adar, 5762

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Simon hits the big time -- OUT-OF-TOWN journalists were shocked that former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan wasn't the GOP pick to replace a vulnerable Gov. Gray Davis. But the real story isn't that Riordan tanked, it's how the most qualified Republican candidate, Secretary of State Bill Jones, lost the primary -- thanks to the White House.

In his stead, businessman Bill Simon will run. Simon doesn't have the arrogant demeanor of, say, millionaire Democratic hopeful Al Checchi. Still, he is a born-to-money candidate who missed voting in some primaries, never served in elective office and looks, as Davis aide Roger Salazar once quipped, "like he was running for president of the yacht club."

Fortune shines on Simon, however: When Davis entered office, there was a budget surplus; he now faces a $17 billion deficit. It may not be Davis' fault that revenues are down, but it is his fault that state government is 36 percent larger than it was three budgets ago.

I'd give Simon a 30 percent chance of beating Davis in November.

Back to the GOP primary. If the White House hadn't wooed Riordan, the race would have been Simon vs. Jones. A better debater with a solid handle on state issues, Jones probably would have won and stood a stronger chance against Davis.

But nooooo. The Bushies had to pay back Jones for switching his 2000 presidential endorsement from Dubya to U.S. Sen. John McCain.

On paper, Riordan looked like the perfect candidate for California. He's pro-choice and has shown he can win Latino votes.

In the flesh, however, Riordan was a perfectly bad candidate. He said that if elected, he would hire "the best and the brightest" and "empower" them. Forget that "empower" is a word no GOP primary candidate should ever use. Riordan showed he could hire the most mediocre when he picked as his campaign manager a man who had never run a political campaign. The campaign staff was bloated and feckless. The operation ran like a chicken without a head.

Hubris is the only word you can give a man who takes for granted that he'll skate through a Republican primary. Double hubris: The gazillionaire's campaign even had a "chief of staff" for his wife. (And Nancy Daly Riordan didn't vote for her husband Tuesday because she is a registered Democrat.)

Pundits have spun Riordan's demise as conservative Repubs ousting Riordan for being too moderate. Au contraire. Says Simon guru Sal Russo, Simon bested Riordan in moderate GOP counties, including San Francisco and Alameda. Moderate Repubs were just as angry that Riordan had funneled $1 million into Dem campaign coffers as conservatives were.

Enter Simon, the understudy. He ran a ground campaign. He cultivated the ladies who put the flags in the GOP dinner baskets. Unlike Jones, he had money to buy ads that would catapult him to the top. And he had a trump card -- the valued endorsement of America's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.

Simon has advantages over Riordan in the general election. He is disciplined. He will run to the right of Davis -- which means he won't lose the conservative base in November.

The Davis vs. Simon race doesn't have to be a repeat of 1998 -- Davis vs. Dan Lungren -- with Davis pummeling his rival by 20 points. Simon comes across as more genial than Lungren. As consultant Russo noted, Lungren followed 16 years of Republican governors. In 1998, a Democrat was president.

Also, Russo predicts "a very bleak summer" as Sacramento struggles to pass a budget. If the bleak summer includes a heat wave, power outages could highlight Gumby's bungling of what should have been an energy problem, but turned into an energy crisis.

Riordan's best campaign line was: "Davis faced this crisis with a two-part plan. Part one was inaction. Part two was overreaction." Part three, it turns out, is Davis trying to wriggle out of the energy contracts he made as part of plan two.

Another factor: After Sept. 11, it's hard to paint pro-lifers as "extremists."

Simon says that as a former prosecutor he would respect abortion laws even though he person ally opposes abortion. Now it's up to him to convince voters that he is closer to them on marginal abortion issues, such as the taxpayer funding of abortions and parental consent.

Davis has a 100 percent rating with the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Simon needs to paint Davis as extreme in taking the positions to earn that rating.

Simon has some big weaknesses. At Wednesday morning's GOP unity breakfast, he told the crowd, "If I'm correct, I actually got more votes than Gray Davis. And he essentially ran unopposed." Wrong. Davis garnered 1.6 million votes, Simon got 1 million.

Simon's victory speech was stale. He should have pounded Davis with some good opposition research coming out of the box. Instead, he squandered his victory. He'll get a bump in the polls, but without leaving a bruise.

On Simon's side, on the other hand, sits fortune. He has one, so he could pay for ads when Riordan was vulnerable. Now Davis is vulnerable, too.

Davis won more votes Tuesday, but 19 percent of Democrats voted for fringe candidates, who ran no real campaigns and who had only one thing to offer: They aren't Gray Davis.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


03/06/02: He got away
03/01/02: Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah
02/25/02: These are good days for veep
02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
02/19/02: Score one for Greta
02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate