Jewish World Review Oct. 25, 1999 /15 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760
The Curse of the Bubba
CALL IT the Curse of the Bubba. No matter how good their chances or how hard they try, Bill Clinton's rivals seem doomed to self-destruction.
Peruse the casualty list:
George Herbert Walker Bush. He's the father. When Bill Clinton launched his run in 1991, Bush was the victorious liberator of Kuwait. By November 1992, Clinton's target was the defeated captive of recession. The man who won 54 percent of the vote in 1988 would end his political career with 37 percent of the same electorate.
Bob Dole endured his own death of the soul in 1996. Worse than suffer defeat at Clinton's hands that year, he found himself imprisoned in a campaign in which he himself did not believe.
New York Sen. Al D'Amato. The first national politician to probe Bill Clinton's role in Whitewater, he was also the first to feel the boomerang. D'Amato learned too late the costs of prosecuting the Clintons, including the one now running for his old job.
Newt Gingrich. He once promised to mention Bill Clinton's sex-and-cover-up scandal in every speech. Then came the election of last November that cost Republicans House seats in a year they expected to win them. Today, Gingrich's tie to a young female House aide stirs mercifully little interest for the cruel reason he is no longer tied to the speakership.
Bob Livingston. Before he could fill Newt's shoes, the Louisiana congressman was forced to take a walk for his own sexual misconduct.
Henry Hyde. He chaired the House impeachment hearings on Clinton only to see his own "youthful" affair exposed.
Fred Thompson. He entered the Senate with the cachet of a Watergate investigator, the star quality associated with a movie career. When he launched those 1997 hearings into illegal Chinese campaign money, he threatened to catch fire politically. He fizzled.
Ken Starr. Imagine the hair shirt this man has been forced to wear: to depart the
independent counsel's office far less trusted even than his prime suspect.
Every key Republican who has dared go mano a mano with Bill Clinton these past seven years has met the same grim fate. Like the Boston Red Sox, who made that accursed sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees eight decades ago, the anti-Clinton teams have gotten nastily close to triumph over the years.
For a while, this year's Red Sox team looked like it just might do it. Sitting in Fenway Park, two Sundays ago, a friend wished hopefully that its young players, many of them Latino, would be immune to the Curse of the Bambino.
Republicans must wish the same of George W. Bush, a fresh political talent who is either too charmed to fear the Curse of the Bubba or too callow to sense its
JWR contributor Chris Matthews, chief of the San Francisco Examiner's Washington Bureau, is host of "Hardball" on CNBC. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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