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Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2000 /18 Adar 1, 5760

Thomas Sowell

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Hypocrisy unravelling? -- NOTHING IS MORE HYPOCRITICAL than Senator John McCain's constant whining about "negative ads" by Governor George W. Bush, when McCain himself led the way with ads comparing Bush to Clinton. South Carolina voters were not fooled. Polls show that more of them blamed McCain for negative ads than blamed Bush.

McCain's concession speech was one of the ugliest given by any defeated candidate. It was full of accusations -- some of them personal -- so that we are perhaps now getting a look at the real man under the pious image. That reality may help explain why so many people who have actually dealt with McCain in person during his 17 years in Washington are backing George W. Bush. These include most of his fellow senators and the Republican governor of his home state of Arizona.

The truth has a way of coming out, in spite of the media or the spin. The first big truth is that Senator John McCain has not won a majority vote in any Republican primary, not even in New Hampshire, where his victory had the media in ecstasy. Bush has now won all but one of the primaries and has several times as many delegates as McCain. Nothing the media says can change that.

What success McCain has achieved has depended heavily on Democrats and independents. Some Democrats and labor union bosses, have urged their followers to go into the Republican primaries and vote for McCain. Is this how the Republican nominee should be chosen? And who will those Democrats and union members vote for in November?

Senator McCain is trying to wrap himself in the mantle of a "reformer." During the 17 years that he has been in Washington, just what has he reformed? Name one thing.

The liberal New Republic magazine hit the nail on the head when it featured John McCain on a recent cover and said, "This man is not a Republican." They of course were happy about that and even seemed to hold out hope that, as president, McCain could "reform" the Republican Party. That's the kind of reform the liberal media would like -- making Republican mean Democrat Lite. What are the substantive issues dividing Bush and McCain?

The clearest difference between them is on taxes. Governor Bush wants to cut everybody's taxes across the board and by a larger amount than Senator McCain wants. McCain plays the Democrats' game of denying "tax cuts for the wealthy" and talking about keeping part of the surplus to pay down the national debt.

Talk about "the rich" is sheer demagoguery. Despite the class-envy rhetoric, we are not talking about classes. We are talking about people moving up as they get older and acquire the skills and experience to earn higher incomes. Most of the people who start out in the bottom 20 percent also reach the top 20 percent at some point or other. Leave the Robin Hood stuff to the Democrats.

As for letting money accumulate in Washington to pay off the national debt, you simply cannot be serious if you think that is going to happen. If the money is in Washington, the politicians are going to spend it. Senator McCain has to know that, so who is he kidding?

"I'm no hypocrite, darnit!"
What about Governor Bush? He says he is a "reformer with results." His most important reform efforts have been with the Texas public schools. The first thing that caught my eye was that black students in Texas have the highest test scores of black students in any state in the nation. Governor Bush has said repeatedly that he is against "the soft bigotry" of lower expectations for some students because of their backgrounds.

The demographics are going to be against the Republicans in the 21st century, unless they can start making inroads into the Democrats' hammer lock on minority votes. Bush has already gotten a substantial part of the Hispanic vote in Texas and he may be able to make inroads into the Democrats' monopoly of the black vote.

If the Republicans blow this opportunity, who knows when the next one will come along? Neither articulation nor appeal to minority voters has been a strong suit for most Republican candidates.

Despite the high stakes, a small army of spoilers in the primaries have accomplished nothing but drain Bush's money and increase the chance of victory for the Democrats.

JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author, most recently, of The Quest for Cosmic Justice.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate