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Jewish World Review Dec. 18, 2000 / 21 Kislev, 5761

George Will

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Consumer Reports

... A Brief Moment -- WHILE SAVORING his extra-innings victory, George W. Bush, baseball man, should remember the movie "Bull Durham." The young pitcher Nuke LaLoosh, after a good inning, is deflated by his veteran catcher, Crash Davis:

Nuke: "I was good, eh?"

Crash: "Your fastball was up and your curveball was hanging. In the Show, they woulda ripped you."

Nuke: "Can't you let me enjoy the moment?"

Crash: "The moment's over."

Moments are awfully momentary. Consider this:

The other time a president's son ran for president, he finished second, in a field of four, to a Tennessean. But because the leader, Andrew Jackson, did not get an electoral vote majority, the 1824 election was settled in the House, when John Quincy Adams struck a deal with the fourth-place candidate, Henry Clay, who threw his support to Adams. Adams in turn made Clay secretary of state, then considered a steppingstone to the presidency. Jackson successfully characterized this as a "corrupt bargain," which helped doom Adams in 1828, and Clay's presidential aspirations.

The inevitably untidy and bitter judicial ending of this election may taint Bush's presidency. However, sober people understand that any ending favoring Al Gore would have tainted his presidency. And liberals stigmatizing the Supreme Court as partisan are shortsighted, given their reliance on judicial prestige rather than democratic persuasion to advance much of their agenda.

The Gore-Nader 51 percent of the vote should erase whatever remains of conservative's triumphalism. But Gore got one-fifth of his vote by winning 90 percent of African American votes, a source of support that is nearly tapped out. Two issues, abortion and guns, were not as important for Gore as they were expected to be. In the six elections since abortion first became a presidential campaign issue in 1980, four have been won by candidates running on right-to-life platforms. And to carry Michigan and Pennsylvania, Gore muted his enthusiasm for gun control.

However, six of the 10 most populous states--California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey--have voted Democratic in three consecutive elections, by an average margin of 13 percentage points. If these states, with 165 electoral votes, constitute the Democrats' presidential base, a Democrat needs to find only 105 votes from 44 states and the District of Columbia. Bush kept his promise to spend in California the money he raised there, and he campaigned there. After Gore's Los Angeles convention, he visited California only once, and only to tape Jay Leno's show. Nevertheless, Gore beat Bush there as badly as Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole, who never seriously contested California.

Perhaps the key datum of the election is that late-deciding voters, who usually break against the candidate of the party holding the presidency, this time broke for Gore. This suggests that Gore succeeded in sowing doubts about Bush's competence. Which may explain Bush's weakness in educated, metropolitan America.

The Weekly Standard's David Brooks notes that Gore beat Bush by eight points among people with advanced degrees--almost 10 percent of the electorate--and by 22 points among women with advanced degrees. Affluent suburbs have been trending Democratic for 20 years. Gore, Brooks writes, did better than Clinton in 1996 in 12 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island) and Bush did better than Dole did in 12 (Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming). Which dozen would you most want trending toward you?

Twenty Republican Senate seats and only 14 Democratic seats are up in 2002. And, historically, the party holding the White House loses House seats in off-year elections. But Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, says that pattern may presuppose something that did not happen this year--many members elected on presidential coattails. Furthermore, a surge of House retirements--more than the post-World War II high of 65 in 1992, a redistricting year--may result from redistricting, Democratic disappointment about the failure to capture control of the House and term limits for Republican House committee chairmen.

In addition to the 65 retirees in 1992, 43 incumbents were defeated, partly because of redistricting. Churning will continue in the House, where, come January, 53 percent of Republicans will never have been in the minority and 44 percent of Democrats will never have been in the majority.

Democrats will benefit, on balance, from congressional gridlock because of the reactionary liberalism of key constituencies. Teachers' unions want no school choice, trial lawyers want no tort reform, feminists want no limits on even partial birth abortions, African Americans want no change in racial preferences, organized labor wants no significant tax cuts and no partial privatization of Social Security.

Memo from Crash Davis to the president-elect: The moment's almost over.

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


12/13/00: Judicial activism on trial
12/11/00: Truth optional
12/06/00: A Chastened Court
12/01/00: Counting on some slippery language
11/28/00: Florida's rogue court
11/27/00: This willful court
11/22/00: Ferocity gap
11/17/00: Slow-motion larceny
11/13/00: Gore, Hungry for Power
11/09/00: No, the System Worked
11/06/00: The case for Bush
11/03/00: The Framers' Electoral wisdom
10/30/00: Political astronomy
10/27/00: Candidates condescending
10/23/00: No Partners For Peace
10/20/00: Talking peace with thugs
10/11/00: A feast of retreats
10/10/00: .. And what's gotten into the Danes?
10/05/00: The Agony of Debate
10/02/00: Senate Canvas
09/28/00: Milosevic: Not Another Saddam
09/25/00: Blaming the Voters
09/22/00: Saying No to the Euro
09/18/00: Farewell, Mr. Moynihan
09/14/00: When 'Choice' Rules
09/12/00: Colombia Illusions
09/08/00: Will He Spend It All?
09/04/00: Back in the U.S.S.R.
08/31/00: Stonewalling School Reform
08/28/00: Uphill for a California Republican
08/24/00: Sauerkraut Ice Cream
08/21/00: The Partial-Birth Censors
08/18/00: A Party to Prosperity
08/14/00: The National Scold on the Stump
08/10/00: The Thinking Person's Choice
08/07/00: The GOP of Powell And Rice
08/03/00: Panic in the Gore Camp
07/27/00: . . . Both Radical and Reassuring
07/06/00: Harry Potter: A Wizard's Return
07/03/00: Recalling the Revolution
06/29/00: An Act of Judicial Infamy
06/26/00: Life, Liberty and ... the Pursuit of Foxes
06/21/00: Fumble on Prayer
06/19/00: The unified field theory of culture
06/15/00: Schools Beset by Lawyers And Shrinks
06/12/00: Missile Defense Charade
06/07/00: The Grandparent Dissent
06/05/00: Liberal Condescension
06/01/00: Great Awakenings
05/30/00: Suddenly Social Security
05/25/00: Forget Values, Let's Talk Virtues
05/22/00: AlGore the Hysteric
05/15/00: Majestic Avenue
05/11/00: Just How Irrational Is the Exuberance?
05/08/00: Home-Run Glut
05/04/00: A Lesson Plan for Gore
05/01/00: The Hijacking of the Primaries
04/28/00: The Raid in Little Havana
04/24/00: Tinkering Again
04/17/00: A Judgment Against Hate
04/13/00: Tech- Stock Joy Ride
04/10/00: What the bobos are buying
04/06/00: A must-read horror book
04/03/00: 'Improving' the Bill of Rights
03/30/00: Sleaze, The Sequel
03/27/00: How new 'rights' will destroy freedom
03/23/00: Death and the Liveliest Writing
03/20/00: Powell is Dubyah's best bet
03/16/00: Free to Be Politically Intense
03/13/00: Runnin', Gunnin' and Gambling
03/09/00: And Now Back to Republican Business
03/06/00: As the Clock Runs Out on Bradley
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

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