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Jewish World Review May 1, 2000/ 26 Nissan, 5760

Suzanne Fields

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Gore's ruthless doublespeak -- YOU COULD FORGIVE readers of the New York Times for thinking they suffered from double vision when two pictures of Mayor Rudolph Giuiliani appeared on the front page.

The caption warned: "One Melts, the Other Doesn't.''

In our image-conscious society it was difficult to tell the difference. The wax model of the mayor, which will take up residence in Madame Tussaud's Museum on Times Square, looks slightly more real, accustomed as we are to seeing our politicians smiling directly at us. The real guy was looking down.

"When they complain that I can't make all the campaign appearances because I am at City Hall and have to work during the day, watch out, I can send this guy around,'' says the mayor. Every candidate, of course, could use some version of what the Germans call a "doppelganger,'' or alternative self.

Al Gore, for example, makes us think we're listening to double talk as well as seeing double. He has not only changed his clothes to those of alpha male, earth-tone masculinity on the advice of feminist Naomi Wolfe, but the vice president has offered so many different versions of what to do about Elian Gonzales that it's difficult to know exactly what he really thinks. He not only disagrees with how the president conducted the abduction of Elian, but contradicts his own spokesman, who said the veep didn't want to criticize the administration's strategy. (Oh, yes he does; he just did.)

A funny thing has happened to the vice president. He's gone from being mocked for being wooden to being held in contempt for becoming ruthless. It's one thing for George W. to describe him as "willing to stretch the truth and exaggerate in order to get ahead,'' but when liberals in his own party accuse him of deception, the vice president has a problem.

The liberal attitude was summed up by Jacob Weisberg in Slate magazine, who writes that Gore's "remorseless killer instinct'' may cause Democrats to lose not only their claims of higher ethical standards but the White House, too.

"In a tight spot, the vice president did not hesitate to grossly distort his opponent's record, to imply that he was insensitive to blacks, or to mock him as an egghead,'' he writes. "If you know Gore,
AlGore's true personality?
you know he'll do essentially the same thing to Bush: rip into his flesh like a crazed weasel while grinning and promising never to make a `negative personal attack' against an opponent.''

How did the veep, once perceived as the decent guy walking on the high road of life while the president slogged along in the gutter, become so "villainish?'' It's been accumulative. Looking backward from the Buddhist temple fund-raiser, which he characterized first as "community outreach,'' it's easy to trace the pattern of political cynicism. It actually began at the Democratic National Convention in 1992, when he exploited his son's near-fatal traffic accident with an appeal to psychobabble sentimentality. Four years later he did the same thing with his sister's death of lung cancer, intimating that his family had stopped raising tobacco because of it, when it actually remained a major crop on the family farm in Tennessee. He met Al Sharpton, the demagogic black preacher, at his daughter's Manhattan apartment while pretending to be there for a visit to his grandchild. Preacher Al popped into public view by accident.

The multitude of deceptions over fund-raising telephone calls and the illegal contributions from foreigners have made George W. "the decency candidate'' almost by default. George W. capitalized on that last week in Washington with a promise to restore "civility and respect to our national politics.'' He pleaded for an end to the bitter partisan politics for which both parties bear blame. He underscored his message by meeting with Sen. Bob Kerry, Nebraska Democrat, to talk about reforming Social Security. He showcased an appearance with home-state Democrats, telling them he works "both sides of the aisle to get something done.''

He joined his wife Laura at a meeting of Republican women at a forum entitled "For Our Daughters.'' If women have the edge in this election, as some pundits suggest, it's because they prefer George W.'s appeal to bipartisanship over Al Gore's ruthless rhetoric. We shouldn't be surprised if men do, too. In a USA Today poll, women split their approval between the two candidates, but George W. led among men by 17 points -- among white men by 26 points. Al Gore, the men said, is not a man they instinctively trust.


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