JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Jacob SullumJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellWilliam PfaffRobert Scheer
Don FederCal Thomas
Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / March 25, 1998 / 27 Adar, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder GOP shouldn't look to media for advice

EVERY TWO YEARS, the media set up shop as unofficial campaign consultants to the Republican Party. They do so out of boundless admiration and affection for the GOP.

Invariably, their advice is simple, straightforward and suicidal: It is disastrous for Republicans to run conservative candidates, especially social conservatives. Ideally, in any Carol Moseley-Braun election, the party's nominee should appear to be cloned from his Democratic opponent.

Last week, media tongues were clucking over the failure of Republican primary voters in Illinois to heed their counsel in choosing a Senate candidate to oppose Carol Moseley-Braun.

In selecting State Sen. Peter Fitzgerald over State Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, voters spurned media wisdom. An article in The New York Times described Didrickson as a "centrist woman," while an AP report called her a "moderate." You know, middle-of-the-road -- on a highway laid out by Nelson Rockefeller and paved by former Gov. William Weld.

By any honest assessment, Didrickson is a liberal. She is anti-term limits and a supporter of abortion deluxe.

As a member of the Illinois legislature, Didrickson voted for the two largest tax hikes in state history. Her record on taxes and spending was nearly indistinguishable from Moseley-Braun's when they served together in the '80s.

Fitzgerald thinks being a Republican should mean something. He is pro-life and anti-gun confiscation, favors term-limitation, and views government expansion with suspicion. "We're not going to water down the party platform into mush," the nominee declares.

The New York Times harrumphs that with Fitzgerald as the GOP candidate, this year will be a reprise of 1996, when Prairie State Republicans chose Al Salvi for an open senate seat over another media-designated moderate. Salvi went on to lose in November.

The Times forgot to mention that Salvi self-destructed. Badgered on the gun issue, at a memorable October press conference the candidate charged that James Brady, of Brady Bill fame, had a license to sell machine guns, a piece of misinformation he picked up from the Internet. Salvi lost not on ideology but credibility.

But go back a bit further to 1992, when Moseley-Braun was first elected. To oppose this stalwart anti-lifer, the GOP chose Reagan aide Richard Williamson, who immediately did a belly-flop on abortion, undergoing one of those miraculous election-year conversions after which he proclaimed himself "firmly pro-choice." Moseley-Braun had him for lunch.

It is a source of constant wonderment that the media can sell their baloney in the face of recent history. In 1994 and 1996, the Republican Party elected a total of 20 freshman to the United States Senate. Of them, all but two are solid conservatives and defenders of the unborn.

Compare the moderates' track record. Bob Dole, who served as Didrickson's national finance chairman, ran to the right in the 1996 primaries, then ran away from the Republican platform as soon as he'd secured the nomination.

Dole's campaign was a textbook case of how to alienate the party's core constituency and anesthetize the electorate.

George Bush should have ended the debate about which type of Republican is more electable. In the squire of Kennebunkport, we had two different candidates in the same man.

In 1988, Bush won as a Reagan Republican. In 1992, he campaigned as a Gerald Ford moderate and lost handsomely.

A Washington-based consultant who's close to Newt Gingrich says a primary win by Didrickson would have provided a world of contrast in the general election.

Moseley-Braun is black; Didrickson is white. The Democrat has embraced Sani Abacha, the loathsome dictator of Nigeria; the Republican has not. And -- well, that about exhausts the differences.

On the day that Fitzgerald took the Republican Senate nomination, Congressman Glenn Poshard won the Democratic gubernatorial nod with 38 percent of the vote in a five-way race. Poshard is pro-life and anti-gun control.

Does the media therefore say: "Aha, there is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment constituency in the Democratic Party. Republicans can tap into this base." They would, if they were really interested in advancing Republican fortunes or just providing an objective analysis.

If Republicans listen to their friends in the Fourth Estate, soon there will be no one left to vote for them save reporters and editors -- if any could actually bring themselves to pull the Republican lever.


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3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
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2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
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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.