Jewish World Review April 21, 1999/ 5 Iyar 5759
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I thought the saddest moment of the pre-fab event, aside from David Dinkins’ self-pitying justification of his lackadaisical tenure as mayor, was the statement from Diallo’s father: “We thank almighty Allah that chose Amadou Diallo. We thank almighty Allah for the sacrifices that bring multicolor and religion together for peace and solidarity.”
When Sharpton the Charlatan has exploited Amadou’s death for all it’s worth and has moved on to a new crusade, Mr. Diallo and his wife, pawns of the “reverend,” who have understandably tried to numb their personal tragedy, will still be without their son. A year from now Sharpton won’t even remember the name Diallo.
Giuliani, who’d have been smart to say as little as possible about Sharpton’s sham, couldn’t contain himself, minimizing the turnout as much as organizers exaggerated it, and was quoted in the Times as saying, “Maybe the rhetoric had gotten to such a vicious and hateful level that people just don’t want to associate with that.” I don’t blame Giuliani for his anger at being compared to Hitler and Milosevic, but he’s playing into the hands of detractors by ranting and raving, just as he hurt himself by not reacting to the Feb. 4 shooting with more diplomacy.
Despite all this unrest, Giuliani’s poll numbers for a possible Senate race against Hillary Clinton—who’s increasingly unlikely to run—haven’t been damaged at all. In fact, according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, he’s actually gained ground on Clinton in the last month, trailing by just five points. It’s possible that all this commotion in the city, which is overwrought considering that crime has decreased dramatically on Giuliani’s watch, has energized upstate and suburban voters to support the Mayor. And if Rep. Nita Lowey is the eventual Democratic Senate nominee, Giuliani will win by at least five points.
Dinkins, in an astonishing statement, considering his five daily showers and all that tennis during his four years in office, told the crowd at Federal Plaza: “We have worked too hard too long, moving from the back of the bus, to now put our children in the back of an ambulance.” Huh? What about Crown Heights, Mr. Dinkins? What about the far higher number of murders under your regime?
Dinkins also told the New York Post: “Most police officers are good working people who put their lives on the line for us. But there are those who are cruel, and that’s why we’re here.” That’s a reasonable sentiment. But it’s also true that while most New Yorkers are “good working people” there are thugs who prey on citizens, and when a “person of color” kills either a cop or resident in cold blood, P.T. Sharpton isn’t there to organize a rally to further his own twisted political goals.
But that’s too logical. Most of the people who participated in the march are now going about their normal routines, and Sharpton doesn’t have the patience to follow Adler’s advice. That would keep him out of the media spotlight for too long. Instead, he was on his way to Riverside, CA, Friday night to “protest a police shooting” there, and is making plans for the Diallo Parents Tour Part II.
Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post that Sharpton’s inflammatory showboating has already disrupted the city in a negative way, adding “[A]s the Rev. Sharpton has proved often enough, it is easy to abuse [Martin Luther] King’s great and glorious legacy.”
She continued: “The first cost is already obvious: The police are holding back. Pilloried by the demonstrators as racists and criticized across the city by whites as well as blacks, police officers are telling reporters that they can see the mistrust in people’s eyes as they ride around town or walk the streets in uniform. In the toughest neighborhoods, they are openly taunted by defiant youths, and in response, some are less willing to risk their lives in doing their job.” But Sharpton will now be a demonstration frontman for hire. The local police in Des Moines took too long to rescue a cat from a tree on Maple La.? Call P.T. Sharpton to stir up the local folks for such an unconscionable breach of professional responsibility.
The Beltway Media Back Bradley
BACK TO THE SUBJECT of presidential politics—I’m confident there’s enough Kosovo coverage in this week’s paper without MUGGER’s pro-ground forces sentiments—it was another terrific week for George W. Bush, despite getting roughed up by the Times’ William Safire on foreign policy. (Safire has never been kind to the Bush family; in fact, against his better judgment, he even voted for Bill Clinton in ’92. My suspicion is that right now he’d pull the lever for John McCain, despite the Arizona senator’s absurd stance on campaign finance reform.) Bush collected more political endorsements, in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as that of Virginia’s Gov. James Gilmore, and has amassed over $7 million without holding one official fundraising event.
John Podhoretz, writing in the New York Post on April 14, claims Gore has only a tenuous grip on the nomination: “The prudent and careful Bradley may not be the most exciting guy in the world, but he’s a more serious and—let’s face it—less weird guy than Al Gore.” This is somewhat significant in that Podhoretz, like most Republicans, hopes that Gore does win the Democratic nod, figuring he’d be an easier opponent than Bill Bradley.
Finally, Gore’s unfavorable rating is 43 percent, which scares Democrats silly, so much so that the front-runner’s sole challenger, Bradley, is the topic of much heated discussion in Washington. On Sunday’s This Week, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that a high-ranking Democratic official says Bradley now has a shot at the nomination. A quickie poll on Friday’s Daily News website had Bradley favored over Gore by a 67-32 margin.
Still, I think Gore will prevail, assuming the Kosovo war doesn’t spill into the primary season. The Democratic establishment, which is firmly behind the Vice President, has too much to lose if he doesn’t win the nomination: for example, if it’s Bradley vs. Bush in the general election, it’s far less likely that Dick Gephardt can win back the House of Representatives for his party, because it’ll throw its machine into chaos. I expect so much money and time will be spent to derail Bradley—as well as dirty tricks—despite his glowing press notices, that the former New Jersey senator will come up short. Scores of columns have been written in the last month suggesting that Bradley might stage an upset, but none of the authors can explain exactly why. It’s not as if Gore and Bradley differ much on the issues, and despite all the hype about the value of the latter’s “life experience,” he’s still dull and isn’t likely to energize voters.
David Shribman’s April 13 piece in The Boston Globe was typical of current Beltway punditry: his recites Bradley’s background of growing up in Missouri, his NBA stardom and three terms in the Senate, as if that makes him a radical alternative to Gore, who admittedly was raised as a patrician, even though he now pretends to be a farmer. Shribman quotes Bradley: “‘I am trying to explore the ‘feeling side.’ I could not have done that 10 years ago. I’ve lived life long enough to have perspective. I can share my feelings now, without self-consciousness.’” Well, that’s just dandy, another chief executive who can feel the country’s pain. Wayne Woodlief, in an April 8 Boston Herald column, was even more besotted by Bradley. He writes: “Yet Bradley is now a solid contender. And it isn’t simply because of Gore’s ragged start. Bradley’s low-key blend of literate, deep thinker, graceful former athlete and careful listener is catching on.” With whom, Woodlief doesn’t let his readers know. He then gives Bradley’s explanation of why he didn’t run in ’92: the Jersey senator hadn’t traveled enough, he said, hadn’t stitched together a campaign apparatus that “could help him not just win, but govern.”
And here’s where I groan: “And he hadn’t examined himself enough.” What, is this a race for Berkeley’s sheriff?
It’s Bradley’s tremendous good luck that no other Democrat had the guts to challenge Gore: in a two-way race, he’ll be the recipient of votes from party members who don’t like Gore or his association with Clinton; if it was a scattered field, like in past primary races, the results would be splintered, with Gore most likely receiving the most votes.
In the end, Ferguson doesn’t believe Bradley has the stamina, or the
nastiness to indulge in negative advertising, to be successful, writing:
“For such a man, losing can be a kind of vindication... For the moment,
at least, he is content to be this decade’s heir to the tradition of
Adlai and Gene—men of conviction and principle (we were told) who looked
to create a new kind of politics, who embraced big ideas they could
never quite express, who ran for president, and who
04/16/99: Notes From A Baltimore Hick:
Pressing My Nose Against the Window