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Jewish World Review Feb. 22, 2001 / 29 Shevat, 5761

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports


Clinton woos media as Bush governs


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- RECENT news stories on former president Clinton and President Bush serve to contrast their styles and needs. Clinton can't seem to get enough media attention, and Bush appears content to escape the spotlight. The differences may give us some insight into their respective approaches to the presidency and, in the case of Mr. Bush, reasons for optimism.

Clinton obviously craves the limelight, but it's more than that. He needs adulation. He needs armies of admirers, swarms of sycophants, worlds of worshippers, pockets of panderers, throngs of toadies, gaggles of genuflectors, reams of respecters, enclaves of empathizers, flocks of fawners.

Couldn't you just feel his ecstasy when he was being mobbed outside his new office in Harlem, N.Y., where he said, "I feel like I'm home here"? It was apparently the closest he could get to recapturing that presidential feeling.

Clinton's post-presidential behavior puts the lie to the common myth that he was one of the most popular presidents in history. His spinmeisters have continually tried to confuse job approval with personal popularity. Sure, the people approved of the economy Clinton presided over, but they didn't approve of him.

What difference does it make, you ask? It makes all the difference in the world to Clinton. It is the reason he was so reluctant to get off the stage on Bush's inaugural day. It's the reason he is constantly in the news today trying to rehabilitate himself.

Why else would he, as a member of that most elite of elites, the former presidents' club, stoop to call the Geraldo Rivera show and plead his case about the Rich pardon? Why would he write an op-ed piece in the New York Times, desperately trying to justify this unjustifiable pardon?

Clinton will not get out of the news until he is assured that he is universally loved and that history will record him as one of the nation's greatest presidents. Ironically, the more he tries to influence both, the less likely they are to materialize. New polls show that despite all his tinkering, Clinton's popularity is taking a dive.

What about George Bush? The media have done their best to paint him as a hapless moron. For his first few weeks in office they laid off ever so slightly, but they're back now, and it may get ugly.

The Washington Post did a profile of Bush on Monday, again raising the question of his intellectual prowess. They pointed to the scandalous fact that he and his advisers used the term "routine" to describe the weekend air strikes against Iraq.

"Bush," wrote the Post, "was hewing to his administration's talking points." So what! If talking points are evidence of an absence of mental acuity, then Bill Clinton is the dumbest president in history. There's no contest. He and his programmed mafia couldn't make it through a day without talking points. It got to be embarrassing at times.

The difference with Clinton's talking points was that they were almost always used for propaganda purposes -- to convey something other than the truth. If Bush is using talking points at all, it's to keep his team on message and to communicate clearly about his various implementations of policy.

The Post also implied that Bush, when questioned, was unclear about the reasons he ordered the air strikes against Saddam Hussein -- as if this is rocket science, anyway (pun intended). Well, at least reasonable people aren't questioning whether Bush has some ulterior, personal motive to bomb Iraq. People trust the president again -- and that's refreshing.

The Post criticized Bush for not having submitted to a press conference. But do you blame him? They are obviously just lying in wait for more ammunition to prove that he's Dick Cheney's clueless understudy.

I think Bush, conspicuously unlike Clinton, is demonstrating an inner peace and security. Like Ronald Reagan, he knows that the media are not his primary constituency. Nor are they his allies. No matter what he does -- short of renouncing conservatism wholesale and admitting that he has the lowest presidential IQ since Reagan -- he will not win their favor.

The media, like Clinton, want to be the center of attention. Unhappily for them, Bush, unlike Clinton, is not going to accommodate them. That Bush isn't preoccupied with media approval may be disconcerting to them, but it should be encouraging to the rest of us. Finally, a president who is not hostage to public opinion polls and who is intent on implementing his agenda -- because he truly believes in it.



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.

Up

02/20/01: Liberal idealism: Where have all the flowers gone?
02/14/01: The Clintons and selective media outrage
02/12/01: Bush's tax cut challenge: A historical view
02/07/01: Democrats' Dubya dilemma
02/05/01: Dubya is confounding the media
01/29/01: The Teamsters, the DNC and the reformers
01/29/01: The Old Limey
01/25/01: Clintonís disgraceful departure
01/22/01: Ashcroft: Principle above self
01/17/01: Justice for Riady?
01/15/01: Ashcroft: A hill to die on
01/10/01: Returning to the supply side
01/08/01: Reasons for optimism
01/03/01: Bush's daunting challenges
12/28/00: Ashcroft: A triumph for the rule of law
12/26/00: A tinge of revenge?
12/20/00: GOP: Breaking the race barrier
12/18/00: Civility doesn't require surrender
12/13/00: Al Gore: Innocent victimizer
12/11/00: Judicial restraint and ordered liberty
12/06/00: The four years war
12/04/00: Debunking Gore myths
11/29/00: Defending the smaller principles
11/27/00: Albert O'Gore and the little people
11/22/00: Doing 'anything to win'
11/15/00: Enough is enough, Mr. Gore
11/13/00: Al Gore: Thy country or thyself?
11/08/00: Bill and Al: Your time is up
11/06/00:The impending Bush mandate
11/01/00: Can't stop thinkin' 'bout tomorrow
10/30/00: George: Give Gore the ball back
10/25/00: Mr. Gore: A few more questions
10/23/00: It's the big government, stupid
10/18/00: Gore's down, so will he panic?
10/16/00: We're fresh out of new Al Gores
10/11/00: Gore: Fuzzy math = dirty politics
10/10/00:Gore: Renaissance man or unbalanced?
10/04/00: Where have you been, Albert Jr.?
10/02/00: Clintonís fragmented presidency
09/27/00: Liberal media doth protest too much
09/25/00: AlGore: Turning dreams into nightmares
09/20/00: Something fishy's going on
09/18/00: It's the liberalism, stupid
09/13/00: An open letter to open-minded cynics
09/11/00: The virtues of going negative
09/06/00: On a mission for marriage
09/04/00: Al Gore's 'Trivial Pursuits'
08/30/00: Lieberman and the paradox of liberal 'tolerance'
08/28/00: A campaign divided against itself
08/23/00: Al Gore's trickle-down populism
08/21/00: Prosperity without a clue
08/16/00: AlGore can run but he can't hide
08/14/00: When hate speech is OK
08/09/00: Bush: The pundits' enigma
08/07/00: GOP convention: Live or Memorex?
08/02/00: The first attack dog
07/31/00: The Cheney taint?
07/26/00: The anti-gun bogeyman
07/24/00: The raging culture war
07/19/00: Is Hillary 'Good for the Jews'?
07/17/00: How dare you, George?
07/12/00: Jacoby's raw deal
07/10/00: The perplexities of liberalism
07/05/00: Big Al and big oil
07/03/00: Partial-birth and total death
06/28/00: Some questions for you, Mr. Gore
06/26/00: Supreme Court assaults religious freedom
06/21/00: Waco: We are the jury
06/19/00: "Outrage" just doesn't quite cut it anymore!
06/14/00: Al Gore: Government's best friend
06/12/00: Say goodbye to medical privacy
06/07/00: Elian: Whose hands were tied?
06/05/00: Who, which, what is the real Al Gore?
06/01/00: Legacy-building idea for Clinton
05/30/00: Clinton: Above the law or not?
05/24/00: Not so fast, Hillary
05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
05/17/00: Can Bush risk pro-choice running mate?
05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
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?

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