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Jewish World Review May 3, 2000/ 28 Nissan, 5760


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Consumer Reports


Sad-Sack Gore Still Floundering -- WHEN AL GORE lugged his three chins and pasty white face before a group of black mayors in Dallas on April 28, he undoubtedly had more than fitness and phonics on his mind. True, Gore's lost that earth-toned, Naomi Wolf glow that dovetailed with his comeback against Bill Bradley last fall, and probably should lay off the Cheetos. And his new education package, which mimics George W. Bush's in its emphasis on (limited) local accountability, is a transparent switcheroo from the traditional Democratic approach of throwing federal dollars at public schools and hoping that'll successfully bribe the teachers' unions. Gore showed his usual woodheaded brass, criticizing Bush's detailed plan, even though he knows the Texas governor has claimed the issue as his own. He told the lukewarm crowd: "Instead of meaningful public school choice and competition, [Bush] proposes private school vouchers, draining away precious public dollars from our public schools, giving them to private schools that are not accountable."

Gore didn't explain why he and Tipper chose unaccountable private schools for their own four children.

But that's the least of the Vice President's problems. I still have no reason to doubt the election in November will be a squeaker-it's inevitable that Bush will slip on a banana sooner or later, ending his extraordinary postprimary surge-but Gore's advisers must be dirtying their drawers.

One factor that hasn't been discussed at all in the media is the potential for a low Democratic turnout this fall: Gore, carrying so much of Bill Clinton's baggage, isn't doing much to inspire even his base support. He may have swamped Bradley in the primaries, but it wasn't because of a populist rush to the polls; the unions delivered the rank-and-file vote. Just last Friday, at a meeting of professors and grad students in Chicago, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was bashing the Veep for his failure to support the Clinton-Reno raid in Miami. Jackson: "To call this merely a local or state custody decision is short-sighted, it is wrong. [Gore] could not find a way to say he would uphold federal law and that is a problem."

Jackson's a jerk, but he's one of Gore's vote-mobilizing jerk, and so Tennessee Al can't mouth off. At that same Chicago meeting, Jackson ridiculed Americans who were disgusted by the government's ham-handed snatch of Elian Gonzalez. "I see them [law enforcement agents] knocking down doors every day. I've never seen African-American people more excited... Miami has the right to secede on the question of Elian Gonzalez, if they wish." Normally, a Democratic presidential candidate would disassociate himself from a troublemaker like Jackson, but Gore can't afford to; a low minority turnout would kill him in November.

But the Gore campaign has so many serious problems that Jackson doesn't even place in the Top 10. Where to begin? How about the perception that he's a liar who'll say anything to occupy the White House? The sins of Clinton are visited upon the Vice President by the voters: even the ill-informed who don't know
The "troublemaker" doing what he does best
that Gore is a liar automatically assume he is. In this case, the guilt-by-association is absolutely appropriate. After all, instead of distancing himself from the narcissist who's made a mockery of the presidency these past seven years, Gore, inextricably tied to the Clinton money machine, lavishes praise on his boss.

At a recent Manhattan fundraiser, Gore was particularly smarmy. According to the April 26 Washington Post, "In praising Clinton, Gore made a comparison to the Bible passage asserting that 'where there is no vision the people will perish.' He said Clinton's tenure illustrated that 'where there is a clear and compelling vision, the people shall prosper.'" He also threw in this lulu: "Everything flowing from the vision of Bill Clinton is instantly at risk if the other party is put in charge of economic policy." And then, finally telling the truth, at least subconsciously, Gore said that Clinton's "legacy will endure."

But it gets worse. At the same Sheraton Towers affair, which raised $2 million for the Democratic National Committee, Clinton told the affluent crowd: "All I have done for seven years and three months was try to get the country I love in a position to build the future of our dreams for our children. Now it's up to you to decide whether we do that or not."

The children. I can withstand most hypocrisy-working in an industry that's rife with backstabbing, status-driven mediocrities hardens the soul-but Clinton's bald-faced hooey makes me cringe. After seven years and three months, any American with an IQ of over 100 knows that Bill Clinton is the most unethical, immoral and selfish president of this century. By now, Republicans no longer have to say that Clinton's the worst chief executive since Richard Nixon: at least Nixon, whose heart wasn't as black as Clinton's, began the process of ending the Cold War.

He was far too liberal on economics, paranoid to the extreme and wrong about continuing the JFK-LBJ Vietnam War, but his record isn't barren of accomplishments.

If Gore had any guts at all (and wanted to win the presidency), he'd slam Clinton hard and often, and apologize for buttering up and defending such a deceitful individual. But he won't, and that's one of the reasons that the Democrats are unlikely to embrace his candidacy with enthusiasm. For example, California, a state that Gore must win to offset Bush's electoral advantages, isn't a gimme this year. It's been assumed that the Texas governor is putting up a facade in the country's most populous state, just as Bob Dole and his father did in the past two elections, only to skedaddle just after Labor Day. In fact, Bush is running very close to Gore in California polls; and, if Ralph Nader makes good on his promise to stump actively this year, he could win up to four or five percent of the vote in that state, which might be Bush's margin of victory.

Gore's campaign is floundering. He roams the country like a 3 a.m. drunk, attacking Bush for Houston's air pollution, using the word "risky" to describe every single one of his rival's programs, and taking credit for a solid economy that he had little to do with. In fact, the Clinton-Gore administration drew an inside straight when it came to the fiscal health of the country.

Consider this: in 1993, after passing a devastating tax hike, the Clintons and Gore then tried to enact a healthcare scam that would've put one-seventh of the economy under federal jurisdiction. Talk about risky. It was the Republican takeover of Congress in '94, as well as the expansion of the communications industry, that's kept the country out of recession, despite the Clinton-Gore policies, which if left unchallenged would've resulted in no surplus at all.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2000, Russ Smith