' Bob Tyrell
Jewish World Review March 25, 2004 / 3 Nissan, 5764

Bob Tyrrell

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What really explains the rancor arising in this election year?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | I do not know what you thought when you heard that Sen. John Francois Kerry was overheard in a scrum of Chicago blue collar workers referring to unnamed politicians as "crooked" and "lying." I thought he was referring to the Clintons. What is more, I thought he was being complimentary.

The Clintons have, indeed, been very artful in all their transgressions. Even when they get caught, they wriggle out of it, save for the time that Bill got impeached, and found in contempt of court, and lost his license to practice law.

Actually, Bill has never really practiced law. He taught law briefly, but mostly he breaks the law. Hillary has been even more artful in breaking the law, though she, too, has suffered blemishes on her otherwise exemplary record of crookedness and lying. You might recall that the last independent counsel to ponder her 1990s appearances under oath deposited in his final report the finding that Hillary's sworn testimony was "factually inaccurate." Yes, "factually inaccurate," but she is a senator today even as Teddy Kennedy is a senator and Robert Torricelli was a senator.

The current wisdom swirling around Campaign 2004 is that it is going to be very bitter. Both sides, the pundits tell us, are going to indulge in "negative" ads and eye-gouging. The explanation for this incendiary turn of events is that the Democrats believe our debonair president stole the 2000 election.

There has to be more to it than that! Republicans believed that the 1960 presidential election was stolen from them and by an equally debonair aspirant. The 1964 election did not turn out to be a particularly "bitter" election -- though I am sure surviving Goldwaterites are still hurt that Lyndon Johnson accused his opponent, Barry Goldwater, of plotting to get us into war in Southeast Asia.

So what really explains the rancor arising in this election year? Why is it that the Democrats cannot get over their hurt feelings about the final tally in the Sunshine State? My explanation is counseled by the historic record. The two branches of the most political generation of the 20th century, the 1960s generation, are now in the fullness of middle age. They were on opposite sides of the barricades in 1968, and so they are today -- though the barricades have been replaced by party lines.

John Francois Kerry, the Clintons, Dr. Howard Dean and other leading Democrats were Coat and Tie Radicals in 1968, radicals adhering to a leftist agenda while favoring the ambiguity of a coat and tie to preserve what Bill Clinton famously called "political viability." In 1968, George W. Bush and many of his Cabinet members were Penny-Loafer Conservatives. They wanted nothing to do with protests and communes.

Immediately after the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, during which 1960s themes resonated, the contemporary wisdom held that 1960s youth culture was radical. Actually, it was split. In 1972, the youth vote went against the radical George McGovern and for President Nixon. Support for the Vietnam War endured almost to the end. While protesting youth such as Kerry and the Clintons were smiled upon by the media despite the social pathologies that attended their lifestyle, for instance drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, the young conservatives developed their own distinctive point of view.

Today's enthusiasm for free markets, globalism, strong defense and some semblance of traditional values is championed by those of us who opposed the radicals of the 1960s. In the 1960s and 1970s, while we were reading Milton Friedman and the Founding Fathers, many members of today's leadership in the Democratic Party were reading Saul Alinsky, Paul Goodman, and condensations of Marx and Engels. The mentors of their radical youth are all passe, but there is no evidence that the Clintons and Kerrys have learned that in their youth they were wrong and we were right.

Thus, Kerry has brought up Vietnam all over again, glossing over the truly brutal protest he engaged in as a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He even has the chutzpah to remonstrate against the FBI's surveillance of him in those days, ignoring his group's many acts of civil disobedience (occasionally criminal disobedience) in time of war. Hillary Clinton, in what she termed a "major policy" speech at the Mayflower Hotel, unveiled a vision of the Nanny State that was vintage 1968. The battle lines of the 1960s are still in place.

The issues, for the most part, remain. Kerry and the Clintons are the critics of American power and proponents of social engineering and radical reforms. Bush is the defender of American national interests and traditional values. The 2004 election will be fought by two branches of a historic generation hoping to claim the identity of that generation for themselves and the federal government for their own very different public policies.

My candidate is the old Penny Loafer Conservative, George W. Bush, and frankly I find it amusing that when I was reading Friedman back in the late 1960s, he apparently was reading Esquire's "Handbook for Hosts." We conservatives have always been a very diverse group.

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

03/19/04: College daze
03/11/04: The understandably confused are confused
03/04/04: Hillary, the loyalest of the loyal
02/19/04: Hannity's optimism
02/12/04: The moron vote
02/05/04: At least Lieberman stood for something
01/29/04: Surprised by the government vendetta against Rush?
01/15/04: Eight Angry Men
01/09/04: Doc, the greatest swim coach of all time
01/02/04: It’s lying time again
12/29/03: Alternative "Person of the Year"
12/18/03: Dean and me
12/11/03: Long live Bob Bartley
12/04/03: "Hit 'em when they're down!"
12/01/03: The Wright Stuff
11/13/03: How wrong the naysayers and the utopians have been
11/06/03: Will I be banned from America's campuses?
10/30/03: They don't care about restraint
10/24/03: "The Reagans" and the evidence of a historic life
10/17/03: The Moron Vote
10/09/03: The politics of groping and the groping of politics
10/03/03: Is there a witch doctor in the house?
09/26/03: Funny Girly-Boy
09/18/03: Send Arafat to Paris!
09/15/03: The soi-disant party of Latinos comes down hard on a successful Latino
09/05/03: Placating the carpers
08/29/03: A melange of one-issue enthusiasts will win?
08/07/03: Angry partisans
07/31/03: Why no ‘holy cities ’ in America?
07/25/03: They underestimate not only the president, but the American people
07/18/03: The irascible, bigoted Harry Truman was a product of his times
07/11/03: A grand affair of hot colors and surprisingly sedate audience participation
07/04/03: In search of anti-Americanism and the perfect bullfight
06/26/03: Calling on London
06/20/03: Too upsetting for the evening news?
06/12/03: Rain(es)ing Clintoon myths
06/05/03: Hillary-ous is pathetic
05/29/03: Shakedown
05/22/03: End of the last great persecution of the 20th century?
05/15/03 :‘Grey’ turns to grim at Times
05/08/03: The only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong
05/01/03: Dinning with Tom Wolfe: More lessons in nusual aspects of American life, hitherto ignored
04/28/03: Ambuscade at scholarly frontier
04/21/03: Stars in search of a galaxy
04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is … a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
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 G-dphobes
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