Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2002 / 2 Kislev, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

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I muffed up


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | All right, so in my sanguine commentary on Campaign 2002 over the past few weeks, I have been proved wrong. When it came to making a precise prognostication of the outcome in the Senate, my optimism blurred my vision. It is now incumbent upon me to be big enough to admit my error. "My hunch is," I mistakenly wrote two weeks ago, "that enough seats will actually go to the Republicans to give them a one-seat majority in the Senate." My mistake -- it now appears Republicans have a two-seat majority in the Senate. Possibly, the Republicans will pick up another Senate seat in next month's Louisiana runoff. So here I am before you, eating humble pie; but I am washing it down with champagne, Pol Roger.

After all, I was right in predicting that President George W. Bush would gain congressional seats, unlike earlier presidents who almost always suffered congressional losses at their first midterm reckoning. In the past 100 years, the White House's triumph has been replicated only three times. The weekend before the election, all of television's gabbing heads entered into a dirge, predicting Republican losses and a Democratic majority in the Senate. Only Larry Kudlow, writing in the Washington Times (the Good Times), shared my optimism -- hats off, Larry.

I think I was also right two weeks ago when I laid down my reasons for the forthcoming Bush victory. I attributed it to the country's "mood" and to the gentlemanly tone the president set.

Various ominous events have put the American voter in a "vigilant" mood. We suffered a vile terrorist attack on our shores on Sept. 11, 2001. It reminded the citizenry of prior terrorist attacks Americans suffered beyond our shores in the 1990s, attacks the government treated lightly. Saddam's truculence, North Korea's cavalier rebuilding of its nuclear weapons program and the brutal Washington sniper attacks intensified Americans' growing sense of vigilance. On Nov. 5, they put their trust in a president who has demonstrated that he will take more than "wag the dog" measures to deal with our enemies.

What was equally consequential in Campaign 2002 was the president's gentlemanly tone. He really was serious when he came to Washington promising to "change the tone," and the American people favor the change. As Robert L. Bartley, editor of The Wall Street Journal, has remarked apres the vote, "As for the Democrats, the big story is that voters have in a big way repudiated the McAuliffe-Carville-Clinton smash-mouth politics." The electorate is tired of their bully tactics and suspicious of their habit of playing fast and loose with ethics and the law.

These Democrats have lost the electorate's trust. They tried to make "corporate ethics" an issue, but the electorate understood that the party of Clinton has no claim on ethics. The corporations guilty of ethical and legal violations had contributed heavily to both parties, and the ethical standards the corporate cads followed were those of Bill Clinton, a man famed for his impudent deceits and for commissions of perjury and contempt of court. What credibility could Terry McAuliffe have on "corporate ethics" when he himself had seen his $100,000 investment in Global Crossing turn into an $18 million profit? And how much trust can one place in a party whose national chairman, McAuliffe, the night of his historic defeat tells Larry King, "Tonight was a good night for the Democrats"?

Moreover, the American people are famous for their sense of fair play. With increasing frequency, they have witnessed the Democrats breaking the rules or placing themselves above the law. The widespread charges of voting fraud immediately before the election were almost always instances of Democratic voting fraud. The unedifying spectacle of the New Jersey Supreme Court denying a Republican candidate certain victory by changing the rules in midcontest is another example of a corrupt party in action. In both New Jersey and Minnesota, the Democrats moved from their proclaimed pieties about campaign finance reform to attempting to end campaigns altogether or at least shortening them to their favor.

On Nov. 5, the bullies were routed. One of their most blatant acts of bully politics has been their treatment of White House judicial nominees, some of whom have had their good names sullied for life by charges of racism and perfidy. Now, the president's party will have control of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and perhaps his gentlemanly tone will replace that of the devious Sen. Patrick Leahy, a man who has demonstrated contempt for good manners, good government and the Bill of Rights. He in his partisan fevers has left the federal judiciary enfeebled by vacancies. That dangerous condition will now end.

And now, I have to wobble off with my bottle of Pol Roger and meditate on how I got the election so wrong. I was almost as far off as McAuliffe and Carville and Clinton -- either Clinton.

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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate