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Jewish World Review /Jan. 18,1999 /29 Teves, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Words can`t dignify a dishonored presidency

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) TOMORROW'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS will mirror the air of unreality surrounding the Clinton presidency.

Senators of his own party have suggested that it borders on the bizarre for the president to address a joint session of Congress while the Senate sits in judgment of him.

But Clinton has an almost obsessive need to carry on -- to act as if nothing is amiss as the nation agonizes through a crisis entirely of his making.

Not a few who hear the address will be thinking: "In the past year, Clinton lied repeatedly to the American people, lied under oath and lied again to Congress. Given this record, should I believe anything he now says? Do I have 'sucker ' stamped on my forehead?"

Suspending disbelief won't be enough to get us through the evening. No-Doz and Dramamine might. Even by the standards of these self-aggrandizing, soporific affairs, Clinton's past performances have set new lows.

The classic observation on Clintonian rhetoric came from newsman David Brinkley on election eve 1996, when he observed that the president "has not a creative bone in his body. Therefore, he's a bore and will always be a bore."

Compared to his 1998 State of the Union, the label on a ketchup bottle is riveting.

The speech could have been titled, "Song of Myself." Crime is at the lowest level in 27 years, unemployment the lowest in 24 years, while home ownership has hit a record high, the president crowed. By the time the spiel was over, his hand must have been sore from slapping himself on the back.

John F. Kennedy said of Winston Churchill, "He marshaled the English language and sent it to war." Clinton enlists platitudes and bromides, dressed in rhetoric as lively as the stock of a taxidermist's shop, to seem presidential sounding like a greeting card.

"Rarely have Americans lived through so much change in so many ways in so short a time," the president solemnly intoned. So?

"Quietly, but with growing force, the ground has shifted beneath our feet, as we have moved into an information age, a global economy, a truly new world." Food for thought -- among intellectual anorexics.

After more preening over the pending budget surplus, the president ventured a policy recommendation of sorts. The surplus must be used to "save Social Security first."

Why is the system in need of rescue? No explanation. How do we save it? No suggestions. No explanations, no ideas, but a great excuse. We can't cut your (historically high) taxes until Social Security has been salvaged.

There were gasps of awe when Clinton pronounced "abusive" child labor "an intolerable ... practice." This daring declaration should have been followed by a strong stand in favor of motherhood.

We are not immune from the effects of the Asian economic crisis, the president admonished, "So I call on Congress to renew America's commitment to the International Monetary Fund." "Commitment" is Clint-speak for billions to bail out international deadbeats.

The speech was capped by an intrepid assault on teen smoking. The president "challenged" Congress to pass legislation that will "improve public health, protect our tobacco farmers and change the way the tobacco industry does business forever." (From sea to shining sea?) In other words, raise taxes on cigarettes.

We can improve public health, save kids from the demon weed and still protect our tobacco farmers, the president assured us. In Clinton land, euphoria is universal. No one suffers or even struggles. There are no tough choices.

In fact, there are no choices at all.

The president pledged to make child-care more affordable, because "not a single American family should ever have to choose between the job they need and the child they love." But families make these choices every day. If they're responsible, they choose their child over the second income few really need.

The president is telling us that, like him, we can have it all.

We can manipulate language and reality to suit us. With enough bold initiatives and historic legislation, we need never sacrifice, exercise restraint or take responsibility.

Apologies to Brinkley, but it's not just that Clinton is unimaginative and insipid (many decent people are both). Bill Clinton is perhaps the most superficial man to ever occupy the White House. His words, like his life, are wholly devoid of substance.

What kind of man can drag the highest office in the land through the mire of sexual scandal for more than a year? The same sort who believes that high-sounding, but ultimately hollow, phrases can dignify a dishonored presidency.


1/13/99: Conservatism "with a heart" is conservatism without a head
1/11/99: If he isn't removed, watch out for Bill!
1/07/99: We can learn a lot from Teddy
1/05/99: Monica and a call to modesty
12/30/98: Will Bubba get away with it again?
12/28/98: Zionist dream alive and well on West Bank
12/18/98: Impeach or abandon the Rule of Law
12/16/98: Clinton moves Middle East closer to war
12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
12/10/98: No place at table for conservatives
12/07/98: The day America lost its innocence
12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/30/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
11/23/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
11/18/98: Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime
11/16/98: "Pleasantville" a countercultural morality play
11/13/98: Ads are a tough sell for abortion
11/09/98: Why gutless Republicans lost
11/06/98: Historians against the Constitution
11/02/98: Loving response to a hateful conference
10/28/98: Professor Death will fit right in at Princeton
10/26/98: Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes
10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.