Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review March 2, 2000 / 25 Adar I, 5760

George Will

George Will
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
David Corn
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
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
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports



As the Clock Runs Out on Bradley -- IN THE NBA what they call "garbage time" comes late in the fourth quarter of lopsided games, when scrubs are sent into the game so the starters can rest their aching knees for the next game. But in a political campaign there is no substitution, so Bill Bradley, who must by now be one large ache, has to play out the clock, which probably will run out Tuesday.

Since he was in high school, people have been saying he would be president. He will not be in 2001, and this year may have lost for reasons that suggest a second attempt would be futile. Having failed with his full-court press in Washington state, Bradley faces a continentwide crushing on Tuesday.

Failure as much as victory can be rich in lessons about campaigning and the country's condition. Here are seven lessons from the dashing of Bradley's hopes.

First, for all the idle chatter about the "Republican establishment," the Democratic Party has a more formidable establishment that can throw consequential weight around in a nomination contest. It consists of leaders of organized labor and African Americans: A candidate who gets both groups is more than halfway home. Both are significantly dependent on, or hopeful of, substantial benefits from federal actions favored by the liberal party.

The conservative party is inherently less likely to have large blocs similarly dependent or hopeful. Furthermore, the idea that Republican elected officials constitute an establishment that can command vast battalions of Republican voters is weird: Its premise is that the base of a party steeped in skepticism about government and the political class will be deferential to politicians in office.

A second lesson concerns money: Although large amounts of it are essential, it is nevertheless overrated. It is especially overrated in the Democratic nominating process, because of the existence of the Democratic establishment, whose support, although not primarily expressed in cash, has a huge cash value. George W. Bush's $69 million has less cash value than the unbought adoration of journalists--that bloc of nonconformists--for John McCain (who of course wants government controls on the kind of contributions he has not depended on).

A third lesson is that at most one candidate in any given year can mount a strong campaign for a presidential nomination by relying to a significant extent on independents, and on members of the other party who are only lightly attached to it. There are not enough of those people to divide into two groups each capable of substantially determining each party's nomination. This year, either Bradley or McCain could win the contest for this free-floating constituency. McCain did.

The games 'bout over, Bill

A fourth lesson is that Democrats are in no mood for ambitious government or moral crusades. Bradley's complaints about Gore's more incrementalist approach to achieving universal access to health care have fallen flat. So has Bradley's most admirable theme, his concern for child poverty. But Bradley seems, like many liberals, to consider child poverty as a problem to be addressed by material redistribution rather than a comprehensive attack on the culture of poverty, with measures ranging from welfare reform, which Bradley opposed, to school choice (see next paragraph).

A fifth lesson is that many Democrats regard the 2000 election as (in the phrase of John J. Pitney Jr. of Claremont McKenna College) a "preventive election." By intoning the dreaded word "vouchers" (code for school choice, a heresy Bradley briefly flirted with long ago and has repented of) Gore promises to protect the public school status quo from competition. And this fall Gore's principal promises will be to prevent change (in the Supreme Court's support for abortion rights, in affirmative action, in the public school monopoly, etc.).

A sixth lesson is that race has lost its saliency with Democrats. Bradley has spoken insistently about the imperative need for racial reconciliation. But race relations have never been better, and arguably would be better still if there were less obsessing about them, and fewer "race-conscious" policies encouraging victimization-mongering by grievance groups.

Finally, a seventh lesson is that candidates who are armed mostly with their stature as senators are unarmed. During his whimsical foray into the Republican contest, Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch confessed to being startled by how unknown he was, in spite of C-SPAN and innumerable appearances on network television. It says much about this political year that McCain's success owes almost everything to what he was before he became a senator.

Comment on JWR contributor George Will's column by clicking here.


03/02/00: Island of Equal Protection
02/28/00: . . . The Right Response
02/24/00: Federal Swelling
02/22/00: Greenspan Tweaks
02/17/00: Crucial Carolina (and Montana and . . .)
02/10/00: McCain's Distortions
02/10/00: The Disciplining of Austria
02/07/00: Free to Speak, Free to Give
02/02/00: Conservatives in a Changing Market
01/31/00: America's true unity day
01/27/00: For the Voter Who Can't Be Bothered
01/25/00: The FBI and the golden age of child pornography
01/20/00: Scruples and Science
01/18/00: Bradley: Better for What Ails Us
01/13/00: O'Brian Rules the Waves
01/10/00: Patron of the boom
01/06/00: In Cactus Jack's Footsteps
01/03/00: The long year
12/31/99: A Stark Perspective On a Radical Century
12/20/99: Soldiers' Snapshots of the Hell They Created
12/16/99: Star-Crossed Banner
12/13/99: Hubert Humphrey Wannabe
12/09/99: Stupidity in Seattle
12/06/99: Bradley's most important vote
12/03/99: Boys will be boys --- or you can always drug 'em
12/01/99: Confidence in the Gore Camp
11/29/99: Busing's End
11/22/99: When We Enjoyed Politics
11/18/99: Ever the Global Gloomster
11/15/99: The Politics of Sanctimony
11/10/99: Risks of Restraining
11/08/99: Willie Brown Besieged
11/04/99: One-House Town
11/01/99: Crack and Cant
10/28/99: Tax Break for the Yachting Class
10/25/99: Ready for The Big Leagues?
10/21/99: Where honor and responsibility still exist
10/18/99: Is Free Speech Only for the Media?
10/14/99: A Beguiling Amateur
10/11/99: Money in Politics: Where's the Problem?
10/08/99: Soft Thinking On Soft Money

© 2000, Washington Post Writer's Group