Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2001/ 7 Teves, 5761
This year, looking ahead is sure sweeter than looking back
JUST WHEN we need him, here comes Janus, the Roman god for whom the new month is named, the
god with two heads. He needs them both this year, when, on the eve of a new presidential
administration, he can look back with a critical eye on the past and forward with a hopeful eye on
Some of the contrasts he'll see are particularly striking -- and maybe instructive for the rest of us.
Vice president. Both presidential candidates made strong choices for running mates. George W.
Bush showed himself to be a man of humility in choosing Dick Cheney, who was much more
experienced in the ways of Washington. During the bitter post-election period, it was Dick Cheney
who was reassuring while George W. appropriately stayed out of the spotlight (where he didn't say
things to regret later). Cheney gives the public confidence that getting off to a late start is not as
damaging as it might have been.
Al Gore's choice of Joe Lieberman erased in an instant the idea that Al Gore was fused at the hip to
Bill Clinton. By choosing the Democratic senator who had scolded the president for immoral
behavior, Al Gore reduced Bill Clinton as a liability. But Joe Lieberman was disappointing as a
candidate because he had, or thought he had, to repudiate himself. We can hope his return to the
Senate will be accompanied by the return of the Joe Lieberman we all admired.
- First and second ladies. Laura Bush showed poise and understated eloquence as a one-time
librarian and teacher speaking out for literacy. She complements her husband's concerns that "no
child should be left behind'' and that it's time to end "the soft bigotry of low expectations.'' No smug
appeals to a "co-presidency'' or getting two for the price of one. Refreshing.
Lynne Cheney comes back to Washington, where she was the chairmen of the National
Endowment for the Humanities (1986-1988). She was a fierce critic of "political correctness''
because it dumbs down education in schools and colleges. Let's hope that she will continue to be a
forceful critic. Tipper Gore, her predecessor as second lady, once bravely criticized the Hollywood
establishment for the poison it pumps into the culture, but she was silenced when her husband
needed campaign money from those who pump up the poison. Pity.
- Attorney general. The president-elect wants John Ashcroft. The liberals are out with their long
knives. Gone are the accolades for his graceful concession speech, refusing to push a strong but
divisive election contest when he lost his Missouri Senate seat to a dead man. (Imagine what Al
Gore's lawyers would have done with that one.) Some blacks oppose Ashcroft because he opposes
affirmative action (on principle) and many feminists oppose him because he's pro-life (on principle).
If he wins confirmation, he will follow an unprincipled and politicized attorney general.
Janet Reno ordered the raid on Waco to save the children. As a result, the children were
incinerated. (They'll never be abused again.) She ordered Elian Gonzalez abducted at the point of an
automatic rifle from the secure arms of a young man who plucked him from the sea because she
didn't trust the law to do what she wanted it to do. Her repeated refusal to appoint an independent
counsel to investigate Al Gore's suspicious fund-raising drew criticism from Louis Freeh, director of
the FBI. The new attorney general must be motivated by principle rather than politics if respect for
the law is to be restored.
- President of the United States. A former governor of Texas replaces a former governor of
Arkansas. But being a governor is probably the only thing the two men have in common. Bill Clinton
is a brilliant man who cynically used his charm and savvy to accomplish nefarious ends. He knew
when it was important to compromise (Welfare legislation) and to camouflage his exploitation of
others (whether his wife, a mistress, or merely a passing object of casual lust). He inherited a roaring
economy and, to his credit, didn't interfere. This roaring economy kept most of the public on his
side, although he never won a majority of the popular vote.
George W. arrives when the economy seems to be coughing, not roaring. The president-elect
carries none of the personal baggage of Bill Clinton, but neither does he arrive with the Clinton
reputation for smarts. Many of those relieved to see Bill Clinton leave the White House are not yet
confident of the man who will replace him. They have cautious but legitimate hopes.
Janus is meant to oversee exits and entrances. He's an observer, not a prophet. But looking ahead is
sure sweeter than looking back. Just ask
12/21/00: Black power with a Republican face
12/21/00: First impressions of two First Ladies
12/18/00: Challenge for the 'better angels of our nature'
12/14/00: What we've lost sight of
12/13/00: Hillary in the lion's den
12/08/00: Return of the 'second sex' on campus
12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
11/30/00: Winner vs. whiner
11/27/00: Measuring against history
11/23/00: Memories of Thanksgiving past
11/17/00: In defense of the Electoral College
11/16/00: More than one way to win an election
11/13/00: Sexual politics squared
11/09/00: A Middle East legacy
11/06/00: Filling in the dots at campaign's end
11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
10/23/00: There'll always be an England. Maybe.
10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink
©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate