Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 15, 2000/ 14 Elul, 5760


JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Jeff Jacoby
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Good Time Joe -- SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, who was instantly transformed from a New Democrat into a clone of Paul Wellstone after being tapped as Gore's runningmate-school vouchers, never heard of them!-has lately muted both his obnoxious religious sermons and his antibusiness rhetoric. He told The Washington Post's David Broder last week that he's trying to assure the industries Gore has blasted-the pharmaceutical and insurance companies, for example-"that a Gore administration would be pro-growth and pro-business."

There was also a fairly devastating piece on Good Time Joe in the Sept. 11 Wall Street Journal, in which reporter Jim VandeHei details how the Senator's political views contradict those of the current incarnation of Al Gore. For example, just a few months ago, VandeHei writes, Lieberman joined forces with Majority Leader Dick Armey to push a bill that "would help insurance companies limit lawsuits stemming from auto accidents by permitting lower rates for drivers who forfeit their right to sue for pain and suffering."

With Lieberman almost as zealous (at least until he was chosen as Gore's runningmate) an advocate for tort reform, an anathema to the Vice President, I'd expect to see the GOP running Bush-Cheney-Lieberman ads in the upcoming eight weeks.

At campaign appearances in the Midwest last week, Bush very simply pointed out the differences between his and Gore's visions for the country's future.

He repeatedly said: "We trust you with your money. We trust you to make decisions with your lives. We don't trust bureaucrats in Washington, DC. We don't believe in planners and deciders making decisions on behalf of America." It might not be poetry, but the message is simple: Gore's quest for the presidency is highly personal and his ideas-such as his insistence that Big Government solve all problems-are secondary to his goal of simply occupying the Oval Office. Bush, on the other hand, is promoting real reform in the tax code, education system, Medicare, Social Security and the military.

Remember him?

The National Review, which tends to be skittish about Bush (there's little doubt the publication favored Steve Forbes in the primaries), nonetheless presented the GOP nominee with a fail-safe argument against the ethically challenged Gore in a Sept. 6 editorial. "Bush has to make the case for his tax cut and for opening Social Security to private investment not just in moral terms, but also in macroeconomic terms, explaining that they would prolong the expansion. And explaining that Gore's program, with its massive spending and its departures from Clinton's centrism, would threaten that expansion... Bush himself ought to come out for Microsoft and against Internet taxes. He has offered many detailed plans in this campaign, but his pitch to the electorate remains too vague."

If the Texas Governor were capable of Pat Buchanan's spellbinding, if loony, oratory, he'd be 10 points ahead in the polls right now.

The New York Times, willfully ignoring the polls, published a typically myopic editorial last Sunday, headlined "Bumpy Days for Mr. Bush," that would've been more accurate 10 days ago. Much like Al Gore, Times' editorialists talk down to their readers, as if they're contemporary substitutes for Jefferson or Lincoln, dispensing wisdom to the great unwashed. In this specific piece of Democratic cheerleading, we learn-surprise!-that the election will be won in a handful of states, and that the national polls are not as meaningful. Speaking only for myself, I'd like to thank the Times editorial board for that stunning insight.

But, again, in its rabid partisanship, the Times' analysis is all wet. For example, in reference to the contested "battleground" states, the writer says: "One result last week was that Mr. Bush wound up sounding more conservative than compassionate, as when he unveiled his bifurcated Medicare drug program. Social issues like gun control, the environment and abortion rights are also strong for Democrats in the critical Midwest."

This view is contradicted by the Times' own R.W. Apple, in a front-page article the very same day. He writes about Pennsylvania: "This is a somewhat unconventional state, politically speaking. It has relatively few registered independents. It has almost half a million more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, but the Democrats are an unorthodox breed, more conservative than most in their party and much less supportive of ideas like abortion rights and gun control." Apple does point out that Pennsylvania's governor is a Republican, as are its two U.S. senators, but ignores the disgraceful treatment of the late Gov. Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat who was treated like dirt at Bill Clinton's '92 convention.

The New York Times showcases many out-of-touch op-ed columnists, six of whom-Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Gail Collins, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert and Frank Rich-slug it out for top buffoonery honors on a rotating basis.


Collins, Friedman and Herbert are lost causes; cutie-pie Dowd is capable of making sense about once a month; Krugman's a lapdog for the class-warfare crowd; and Rich, well, he's just a bitter sad-sack. If it weren't for his sanctimony, one would almost feel sympathy for this obviously deranged man. Last Saturday Rich was in rare form. The good news is that he didn't feel compelled to tie his essay together with references to the latest tv show or musical that's captured his limited imagination. That might be a first.

Alas, the rudiments of factual writing have once again eluded the cuddly columnist. Now, I have no knowledge of Rich's military record, or lack of it, in Vietnam; it's possible, though not likely, that he was in a foxhole with Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. However, when he writes that George W. Bush "want[ed] to dodge Vietnam, as he did by joining the Texas Air National Guard," it's a little strange. As I recall, dodging Vietnam-a smart move, by my reckoning-meant burning your draft card, fleeing to Canada, going underground or, as Bill Clinton did, talking your way out of it.

Another option, which Rich neglects to mention, was the route both Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney took: receiving deferments because they were fathers.

Joining the National Guard, regardless of whether your unit was called overseas, was hardly a "dodge." You were still stuck in a military environment-latrine duty, taking orders from hup-two-three-four career officers, simulated warfare-which is a far cry from taking in an afternoon protest at Harvard Yard before a night out catching a Fellini film or Hendrix concert while stoned on Mexican weed.

This nonsense about Bush's Vietnam record is a setup for Rich's latest beef with the man who doesn't believe in hate-crimes legislation. He writes: "The character he has confirmed in the debate about debates is twofold: that of an entitled, spoiled brat who wants to play by his own rules or else take his feather pillow and go home, and that of a man who wants to avoid confrontation at almost any cost."

This is so daft that you'd think the author were Salon's editor David Talbot (who, let's not forget, endorsed Warren Beatty for president) or his lackey Jake Tapper. Rich wants to get his rocks off by calling Bush a "spoiled brat"? Fine by me, but isn't that retro view better confined to watercooler chat with the girls?

Besides, Bush's debate gamble wasn't an attempt to avoid confrontation; rather, it was a refusal to play by the rules that have resulted in stilted joint press conferences instead of give-and-take exchanges. Bush felt the format sanctioned by the Commission on Presidential Debates favored Gore; unlike Bob Dole, who gave in to every Clinton demand in '96, the Governor wanted to negotiate.

In retrospect, he should've accepted the three scheduled meetings, and then challenged Gore to a September session with Meet the Press' Tim Russert. The more debates the better: If Bush doesn't come across as a doofus in the first showdown, which is what every reporter expects, voter interest in the subsequent debates will recede somewhat; Gore will still have the chance to show the country what an uptight, lie-at-any-cost chameleon he really is.

Frank Rich is so horrendous that even a Times colleague's reporting can be a tonic to his drivel. Writing for Sept. 9, Katharine Q. Seelye, who's been marked as anti-Gore by the Veep's staff, had a delightful take on the populist's hypocritical stand on money in politics. Gore was asked by a radio listener in Baton Rouge if he'd learned anything from his involvement in the '96 Buddhist temple scandal. "Oh sure," Gore said. "I support campaign finance reform, and I think it's obvious to one and all that it's needed now more than ever."

Seelye follows with this zinger: "Mr. Gore then headed to two fund-raisers for the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta, where he hoped to raise $1 million."

And, on the subject of that Buddhist temple, the current New Yorker features an article by Jeffrey Toobin in which Maria Hsia, who's awaiting sentencing on five felony counts relating to that fundraiser, has a mouthful to say. "[Gore] shouldn't feel embarrassed or ashamed of relating to the temple. He should feel very proud of himself... He should say, 'Look, this is no different from people visiting the black churches or any churches or a Jewish temple. There's nothing wrong.'" She later adds: "All politicians are cowards. But they could be better cowards."

Ironically, on the same day (Sept. 11) that The New York Times once again bashed Bush on its front page (for parlaying the family name into connections), while boosting Gore for his First Amendment-busting plans to clean up the entertainment industry, The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz ran a piece about The Wall Street Journal's anti-Gore editorials and op-ed columns.

As I've pointed out before, there's a vast difference between the two papers: while both the Journal and Times are blatantly partisan, only the former admits it. Kurtz, who doesn't even mention the Times' virtual advertisements for Gore, presents a gem of a quote from Journal editor Robert Bartley: "I don't think Al Gore is going to run off and have sexual escapades with an intern. But this has never been about sex. It's been about lies, and Gore seems to have a lot of the same tendencies. Maybe he learned from Clinton."

Contrary to the frothy "restoring dignity to the White House" theme Bush successfully milked before the Democratic convention, he's well-advised to attack Gore again and again and again about his inability to tell the truth. Along with Bush's bold proposals to repair outdated entitlement programs, that's a winning message.

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.

MUGGER Archives



© 2000, Russ Smith