Jewish World Review July 12, 1999 /28 Tamuz, 5759
THE GREAT QUESTION of the last two years of the 20th century in American politics is: Have the American people gone
totally soft? Do they shrug off lying, law-breaking and immorality as trifles?
The Democratic Party had a lot riding on the yes proposition. After wavering for a while, party poo-bahs consulted the
polls and decided to back Bill Clinton to the bitter end. On the day that the president was impeached by the House of
Representatives, Vice President Gore spoke for the party when he proclaimed Bill Clinton a "great president." When he later
announced his own campaign for the office, the vice president expressed his dismay at Clinton's conduct. Gore is hoping that
the voters who excused Bill Clinton's deceit and dishonor will similarly bless this duplicity.
The polls were unequivocal throughout the Lewinsky scandal. The voters did not wish to see the president impeached
or removed. Republicans, who had been banking on anti-Clinton sentiment to motivate their own base in the 1998 elections,
saw their majority sliced thin, instead. (It wasn't pro-Clinton sentiment, but rather disappointment at the bloated budget deal
that kept many self-
described conservatives home that year.)
When Republicans persevered in the impeachment process in spite of the results of the 1998 elections, Bill Clinton and
most of the Democrats in Congress were stunned. Didn't they understand that this would hurt Republicans in the polls?
In point of fact, it did. During and immediately following the impeachment, generic party preference polls (a favorable or
unfavorable view of a party) tilted significantly in the Democrats' favor. According to USA Today, the Democrats favorability
rating ranged between 42 and 51 percent during that period, while Republicans lagged with 36 to 42 percent.
But while a week can feel like a year in politics, the changes in the polls in the months since should remind politicians of
the pitfalls of living in the moment. By April of this year, the Democrats' generic advantage had been erased, and now, with
the release of the "battleground poll" -- a joint Democrat/Republican project -- a new and ominous trend for Democrats is
beginning to show up.
Fifty-one percent of voters now judge that the country is off on the wrong track, and a perception of a lack of moral
values is central to that sentiment, according to Celinda Lake, the Democratic half of the Battleground poll (Ed Goeas is the
Republican half). By a whopping 20-percent margin, voters believe that Republicans are the party that can better represent
the values of faith in God, personal responsibility, ethics and honesty.
Now a cynic might say, "Well, yes, but voters don't care about ethics or morality." That's too harsh. When asked to
name one paramount concern, 25 percent of those polled cited ethics and morality, while other issues like education and the
environment pulled only single digits. Further, among voters who named ethics and morality as a major concern, 57 percent
chose Republicans as the party that would provide better leadership. To further cloud the Democrats' morning, voters also
believe that Republicans are the party better able to "maintain prosperity."
The right track/wrong track number correlates closely with the health of incumbents (and for these purposes, Gore is the
incumbent). The vice president is certainly taking the hit, for now, for Bill Clinton's disgrace. His unfavorable rating is 42
percent -- extremely high for someone about whom the voters know relatively little. Bill Clinton's personal unfavorability
rating is 67 percent.
As if all this weren't bad enough from the Democrats' point of view, the Battleground poll also revealed the existence of
a new class of elderly voters -- Reagan seniors. Those ages 60 to 69, who were middle-aged when Reagan was elected, are
far more likely to vote Republican than older seniors.
There were many who believed that Republicans were foolhardy to do what they thought was right -- impeach Bill
Clinton -- in the face of public opinion urging the other course. The Democrats obediently followed the polls. It now appears
that the Republicans have been vindicated politically. For once, virtue has been more that its own reward.
JWR contributor Mona Charen reads all of her mail. Let her know what you think by clicking here. Please bear in mind, though, that while all letters are read, due to the heavy amount of traffic, not all letters can be answered.
07/09/99: Bubba goes native
07/07/99: Is Rev. Al Hillary's new pal?
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06/21/99: Taking back our streets
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04/15/99: Hooray for the NYPD
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03/31/99: The Flower Child goes to war
03/29/99: Foreign-policy meltdown
03/25/99: 'Just doin' it'
03/22/99: Return of pay equity?
03/16/99: St. Hillary
03/10/99: Rodney King in perspective
03/08/99: Monica's story: No morals
03/04/99: Not home but library alone:
3/02/99: Tuning our racial sensitivities
2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
2/01/99: What did he say?
1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
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12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
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10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
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9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
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7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
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7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
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6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
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4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
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2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
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1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?
©1999, Creators Syndicate