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Jewish World Review Oct. 19, 1999 /9 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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Bubba's endgame --
IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS one first notices a career is in the endgame when the athlete can't perform quite as well as he or she once did. Usually it is first noticed in little things. An inch less here, a second off there. To experienced eyes, these are signs that a career is in decline.

At his news conference last week, President Clinton, who has specialized in outfoxing his adversaries, gave every indication that Clinton fatigue may have caught up with even him.

After disrespecting the U.S. Senate and its constitutional role in treaty ratification, Clinton launched into an anti-Republican diatribe that sounded almost McCarthyite in its extremism. Attempting to link Republicans with the GOP-departing Pat Buchanan, he accused them of a "new isolationism.'' He said the Senate's failure to ratify this deeply flawed treaty would not only imperil U.S. security but was "reckless partisanship'' and would "put the future of our children in peril and the leadership of America for a safer world in peril.''

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, realizing that children might hear his words, chose the softer "baloney'' to respond to the president's assertions. It's worse than that. It is the desperate cry of a man few any longer believe. This Chicken Little has been shouting about the falling sky for so long that he has ceased to be credible about anything. We've all known such people. Once we realize someone is a chronic liar, we check our watches when he tells us what time it is.

Facts and truth are not this president's strong suit. He claims the treaty is verifiable. It depends on what you mean by verifiable. Would the president like to tell us why nations such as China, Algeria, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and Vietnam would live up to such a treaty?

Most of these nations now, or once were (and might be again), hostile to the United States. Does the president seriously believe that China keeps it promises? Would China allow inspectors on its turf? Iran still considers the United States the "Great Satan.'' Why should the "righteous'' make a pact with the devil? America's good will and good word are meaningless to nations that use our high-minded ideals against us.

The president cited our "allies'' as another reason to ratify the treaty. But our allies were mostly in favor of accommodating the wishes of the Soviet Union, even supporting unilateral disarmament in some cases, during the Reagan years. They said if we did not follow their advice the world would be doomed. Millions breathe free today because Reagan rejected that advice.

The president's slippage is becoming increasingly evident to his vice president. Al Gore told Washington Post editors he "hasn't made a decision yet'' on whether to enlist President Clinton's help in his campaign to succeed him. Why should he? He has enough baggage of his own. No use taking on excess.

Even some liberals are turning on Clinton, realizing they have hitched their wagons to a falling star. The feminist writer Camille Paglia, interviewed recently by talk show host Rush Limbaugh for the Limbaugh Letter, summed up the growing feelings of many: "The way the Clintons (notice she includes both of them; elect one, get two, remember?) have debased the White House, sold the Lincoln Bedroom, treated the Oval Office as if it's the back room of an Arkansas brothel, it's just appalling! These people should have been driven out of Washington by a storm of media protest.'' Yes, well, we know about the enabling media. For them to criticize Clinton would be to criticize themselves and the horrific job they have done in probing deeply into legions of Clinton misdeeds.

The fewer than half of the voters who twice elected Clinton to office probably don't want to be reminded how wrong they were. But if they are offered the chance to back a winner that will stay on top of his game, they can rescue our nation from the contemporary equivalent of the Gilded Age. Like those in the late 19th century, we have believed the lie that the economy is all that matters.

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