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Jewish World Review Jan. 26, 2000 /19 Shevat, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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The issues gap -- BASED ON THE CAMPAIGN dialogue of the presidential races there appears to be a serious gap between the issues candidates are discussing and those that the victor will likely face in office.

Perhaps one reason for this variance is that the electorate is anesthetized by a thriving economy and peace in our times. In fact, a recent story in USA Today revealed that no particular issues are dominating the minds of voters this year. Aside from social and moral issues, it's awfully easy to be complacent if you live in the United States in the year 2000.

Far be it from me to knock prosperity but I do think the good times we are currently enjoying are having a surreal effect on public perception, and therefore on the presidential campaign.

Because of persistent growth without inflation for all but two of the last 18 years, and the tremendous growth in the stock market, we are an incomparably wealthy nation.

The economy has been so robust that economic issues are virtually "off the table." Oh yes, Al Gore promises that under his administration "we can do even better," and Bill Bradley complains of pockets of poverty. And Republicans are debating their tax plans, but not in the context of their potential impact on the economy.

I'm not saying that the candidates are offering no proposals that will affect our economy. To the contrary, almost every one of their programs would involve the expenditure of federal money. It's just that, with certain exceptions, they are not talking about economic policy -- how we can keep the economy growing. They are simply proceeding under the assumption that the economy will continue to hum along and inflation will remain in check regardless of monetary (Federal Reserve) or fiscal (tax and spend) policy. This is a reckless assumption.

A similar phenomenon is occurring in the area of foreign policy. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, our flawless victory in the Gulf War, and our casualty-free intervention in Kosovo, we seem to be lulled into the proverbial "false sense of security."

Apart from certain discussions about China and Taiwan, the campaign rhetoric is giving short shrift to foreign policy concerns. We used to discuss foreign affairs in terms of relationships and alliances among nations, geopolitical strategies and nuclear proliferation. Now the closest we come to approaching foreign policy is in talks of international trade and environmental treaties.

Unfortunately, the facility and impunity with which President Clinton has skated through his terms of office may lead to wrong conclusions. It is wonderful to be enjoying peace and prosperity, but we cannot expect them to continue on autopilot indefinitely, irrespective of the policy actions of our government.

Clinton inherited a vibrant economy founded on Reagan's dramatic reductions in marginal income tax rates. With the explosion in the technology sector, Congress' spending reductions and Alan Greenspan's deft monetary skills, economic growth continued despite Clinton's tax hikes.

Clinton also acquired the mightiest military in world history from Reagan and Bush and was able to use its high-tech weapons like toys every time it suited his needs. But his excessive deployment has undercut our military readiness to an alarming degree.

The next president will not be so lucky. He will be bequeathed a desperately ailing military that will require a massive injection of capital. Continual underfunding of our forces is not an option because the next commander in chief will face increasing:

  • Tensions in the Mideast whether or not current negotiations ripen into some settlement

  • Terrorist activities

  • Conflict between China and Taiwan

  • Hostility from Iraq and North Korea

  • Instability and unpredictability in Russia

  • Arsenals of nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue nations

The next president will also likely encounter the ongoing erosion of our society's moral fabric with the now all too familiar consequences.

We live in a dynamic world. The problems it serves up to the 43rd United States president may be completely different from those we are anticipating and electing him to tackle. We better elect someone who has the judgment, maturity, stability and character to adapt and lead.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?