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Jewish World Review June 12, 2000 / 9 Sivan, 5760

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Compassionate Dem

http://www.jewishworldreview.com --
FOR A TASTE of how the blocked-toilet story would be played if Al Gore were a Republican, tune in to the Fox News Channel. It has been offering wall-to-wall coverage of this acutely embarrassing tale. For those of you without cable or without Fox (as I was until last week), here are the distasteful details:

On his 80-acre estate in Tennessee, Gore is landlord to a family living in a small farmhouse. The Mayberrys have not been able to participate in the current economic prosperity. Mr. Mayberry is disabled, as are two of the children. They subsist on $1,536 a month in Social Security payments and reportedly pay $400 per month in rent to Gore.

For some time, the Mayberrys' bathroom has been malfunctioning. The toilet was blocked and overflowed, and the sink was clogged and filled with standing, putrescent water. Mrs. Mayberry attempted to solve both problems. "Me and the plunger were on a first-name basis," she told a Washington Times reporter. "I've hit it; I've cursed it. I'd like to take a gun and shoot it.

It's overflowed more times than I can count." She also poured Clorox into the sink to keep the bacteria at least somewhat at bay.

For those who urge people in Mrs. Mayberry's position to learn to help themselves, it is useful to remember that she is a renter. Renters, unlike homeowners, are not responsible for major repairs. That is why landlords who cannot do the work themselves often employ property managers or superintendents.

Mrs. Mayberry (a lifelong Democrat) had complained to the property manager many times, but to no avail. She says she was told that in order for repairs to be made, the vice president would have to approve them personally. And, naturally, he was very busy. When she persisted, she received an eviction notice. That's when she decided to go public, calling Gore a "slumlord" and telling her story to the world (through a Nashville TV station).

Good old American ingenuity! It worked. No sooner did Mrs. Mayberry use the "s" word than prompt promises of action flowered like tobacco plants in springtime. Gore immediately overruled his property manager and promised Mrs. Mayberry that everything would be taken care of as soon as possible.

Who has ever seen faster government service? As these words are being written, plumbers are snaking out the pipes, workers are repairing the curling linoleum floor and painters are sprucing up the walls.

John Mayberry, 10, had to reach
into the tank to flush his toliet

Yes, yes, I know, this is actually private service. Poor Gore. He was so eager to encourage inquiries into his picture-perfect personal life and invite comparisons with the current occupant of the White House. But instead of his gorgeous family and grandchild (whom he has mentioned only 243,800 times in the past month, honest), the fickle finger of publicity lands on the unphotogenic bathroom of his tenants.

While Mrs. Mayberry was plunging away at the malfunctioning toilet, Gore was in New York pocketing $3 million at two fund-raisers. Thanking his backers for their support, Gore pledged to commit himself to those "who are not yet being carried along by this boom."

But his own tenants could not obtain the most basic services (for which they were paying) until they publicly embarrassed him. Now the vice president is scurrying to repair his damaged image. It seems that just as soon as he returns to Carthage, the Gores will host the Mayberrys at a dinner party at the Big House. And Gore went a step further, inviting himself to the Mayberrys' home for some "Southern cooking."

Gosh, is this the first time the Gores and Mayberrys have met, they being neighbors and all? Just as amazing is the story from 1997 that the Gores, with an adjusted gross income of $197,729.00 gave just $353.00 to charity.

And equally remarkable is the fact that Gore, an ardent opponent of school vouchers for poor children, sent all of his children to private schools.

Some liberals sincerely (if misguidedly) believe in the power of government to help people. Sen. Paul Wellstone springs to mind. And then there are the luxury liberals like Gore, who reveal by their personal conduct that their public protestations of "compassion" and "care" for the less fortunate are sheer claptrap.


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