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Jewish World Review July 7, 2000/ 4 Tamuz, 5760


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Snubbing Nader -- WATCHING THE BELTWAY BOYS, as I do each Saturday night, I saw that cohost Fred Barnes was way off the mark in pumping up Florida Sen. Connie Mack as Bush's runningmate; but his partner Mort Kondracke, repeating the DC buzz of the week, might be closer with his speculation that Dick Gephardt could be a desperation pick for Gore. As for vice-presidential selections, let me say I was perturbed to be ripped off by this-month-I'm-a-populist Arianna Huffington in the August Talk: she writes about the attributes Maryland's Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would bring to the Democratic ticket.

And all this chatter about Gov. Frank Keating wrapping up the number-two GOP slot is just that: chatter. Sure, Keating was noble in the wake of the Oklahoma bombings, but goodness gracious, if a governor can't pull that off, he or she shouldn't be in the political racket.

Bush still favors Gov. Tom Ridge, and, ironically, it was the Supreme Court's ghoulish decision in favor of late-term abortions-which Ridge is against-that might've finally sealed the deal. Bush probably can't win with a pro-life runningmate; as it is, Gore will make abortion the number-one issue of the fall. He has to widen the gender gap, and there's no better way than playing the demagogue on abortion. In the year 2000, it's the only issue Democrats stand for. They champion partial-birth abortion-infanticide-yet most oppose Bush on the death penalty (although not Gore or Clinton). The Democrats are the most dishonest, corrupt and intellectually disingenuous political party since the Whigs.

Also on The Beltway Boys, it was sad to see how badly Parkinson's disease has ravaged the body of former sitcom star Michael J. Fox. He's involved in charity work, trying to raise money and awareness about the illness, and his bravery was poignant, as he sputtered in an attempt to get his message across, losing his train of thought at times. But he was still passionate in his remarks.

It made me sympathetic once again, briefly, for Janet Reno, certainly the worst attorney general in memory, and that includes John Mitchell, as she continues to do the cowardly Clinton's dirty work. You'd think someone in that administration, a man or woman who isn't an android, after seeing just one more clip of the poor lady shaking as she testifies before Congress, would have the compassion to take Reno aside and say-any white lie would be forgiven-"Madame Attorney General, you've served your country. Go home and rest." Eight years ago, even those of us who smelled a rat from Manhattan down to Hope, AR, would've thought Bill Clinton might be capable of such an act of selfless gratitude.

But no sympathy is necessary for the piggy lords who run The New York Times. Those who control the editorial pages at that paper know more than you or me, and feel duty-bound to issue grand proclamations on how Americans should live their own lives. (The Times is appalled by the proposed repeal of the heinous "death" tax, for example, saying it's a sop to the rich, but does anyone question for a second that the Sulzberger family has employed an army of lawyers to protect their own estate interests?)

"I can count!"

And what happens when the Times' opinions are contradictory, even within the space of two days? Dear reader, it's not your lot in life to ask questions like that. I took special delight in last Friday's editorial, "Mr. Nader's Misguided Crusade," in that it dampened the very notion of democracy that's supposedly so dear to the paper-and was the 118th unofficial endorsement of Al Gore for president.

Ralph Nader has the elite media running for buckets of water. How in the world did this happen, the faux-cognoscenti cluck at DC and Manhattan parties and fundraisers: This is the turf of Pat Buchanan and that other kook, Ross-what's his name?-ah yes, Perot. But there's Nader, telling anyone who'll listen-and reporters are all over the guy this summer-that while Bush "is beyond satire," the Vice President is "the more infuriating because he's such a hypocrite. He doesn't know who he is anymore. He's a plastic person."

So while the Times has no compunctions about trampling on the First Amendment in its endless calls for "clean elections," it severely frowns upon Nader's candidacy. And why is that? "[I]n running for president as the nominee of the Green Party, [Nader] is engaging in a self-indulgent exercise that will distract voters from the clear-cut choice represented by the major party candidates, Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush. His candidacy will be especially harmful to Mr. Gore, the contender closest to Mr. Nader on the environment and other issues. This political reality casts doubt on Mr. Nader's claim to be driven by policy differences rather than ego."

And New Yorkers wonder why the rest of the country can't stand our city: a major newspaper deciding whom exactly it's permissible to vote for. Now if it were John McCain who took up a third-party campaign, his motives wouldn't be questioned, mainly because the Arizona Senator would draw votes disproportionately from the GOP nominee.

But if you're Ralph Nader and you read this sanctimonious print advertisement for Gore, you've got to say, "Get outta here, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Who are you to tell me if I can run for president?"

Besides, as Nader has explained, he doesn't believe there's a significant difference between Gore and Bush, so why not tip the election to the Texas Governor, and let the Democrats regroup, get rid of the Clinton-Gore trash and start anew for the 2004 elections? Nader is not "close" to Gore on the "environment and other issues," as the Times contends.


One of Nader's standard stump soundbites is "You can't spoil a system that's spoiled to the core." Also, his view on Bill Clinton is hardly in line with the Times' worldview. The President, Nader says, is guilty of "some of the most intensive demonstrations of political cowardice in American history." He's also called Gore a "gee-whiz techno twit" and "environmental impostor."

In an interview with the L.A. Weekly's Harold Meyerson, published on June 30, Nader said, in response to the obvious question about whether a vote for him was a wasted one: "On corporate-welfare issues, the worse party by far is the Democrats. They're innovative, creative, blatant, brazen. They're the ones who got the Pentagon to subsidize the mergers between defense companies... They don't have any ideology left, except expedient surrender to the corporate interests in order to deny [their contributions] to the Republicans... Between Bush and Gore, there's an even thinner difference [than in the House]. Because if the House goes Democratic, you have Gephardt and Bonior, who are a little bit more traditional liberal Democrats. Gore is mush. He doesn't know who he is other than a finger to the wind-and the [center-right] Democratic Leadership Conference and [its president] Al From and the corporate lobbies are the wind. He's betrayed more of his past written positions than any politician in modern American history. Just look at his book, Earth in the Balance, out in a new reprint. The author now can be called Gore out of balance."

So Nader is an egomaniac who's messing with America's hallowed electoral system. Hmm, seems pretty fishy to me. In a July 2 editorial, after all, the Times attacked media pundits who correctly point out (their view buttressed by all polling data) that Americans don't place a high priority on campaign finance reform. The paper writes: "When will these so-called 'experts' realize what a disservice they do by parroting the cynical spin control of those who live off the corrupt status quo?" If there's a more "corrupt status quo" than The New York Times in the United States today, please inform me, because I'm stuck on that one.

The editorial continues: "Again and again, Americans are lectured by these people that campaign reform is not a salient issue, even though Senator McCain ignited the voters with it earlier this year. Americans do care about campaign reform. Their desire for financially clean campaigns is one reason for the widespread cynicism among voters in recent years."

Two points: First, McCain was not popular for any of the issues he mouthed off about. He was a wisecracking blabbermouth, propped up by an adoring media, who assuaged the guilt baby boomers felt about not dying in Vietnam, and stirred pride in older veterans. He was a character-some would say an American hero.

Second, the "widespread cynicism among voters" is not a recent phenomenon. Just as, every four years, the Times and other media outlets bemoan the lack of serious presidential candidates (remember that John F. Kennedy was considered a lightweight in 1959), it's a constant that citizens don't vote in the number of other democracies. The Times conveniently forgets that Ronald Reagan didn't take a dime of "soft money" in his campaign, yet was still vilified in its pages. In 1968, George Wallace, just like Nader today, mounted a third-party campaign by claiming there wasn't "a dime's worth of difference" between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.

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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