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Jewish World Review March 15, 2000 /8 Adar II, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports



OK Al Gore: Let's go negative -- EVERYONE IS PREDICTING a knock-down-drag-out campaign between George Bush and Al Gore. I say, bring it on!

Negative commentary about negative campaigning has reached a crescendo in the last few election cycles and is reaching epic proportions this year. The phrase "negative campaigning" is bandied about so loosely anymore that it has become incomprehensible.

The candidates most critical of "negative campaigning" are generally those with the most to hide. The media's denunciation of the practice, though, is more a function of their demand for purity in the political process, in the same vein as their calls for campaign finance reform. How hypocritical for those who make a living smearing people to decry negative campaigning.

We ought to distinguish between "negative" and "dirty" campaigning. Lying about your opponent and his record is dirty and should be condemned. But there is nothing improper about truthfully publicizing your opponent's positions on the issues or activities he has engaged in that bear on his character.

Indeed, it is anti-democratic for candidates to avoid engaging in a full-throttled debate about the issues, no matter how unpleasant some may find it. Surely we don't want to pretend that we are so pristine that we will even subordinate our obligation to inform the voters.

It is also irresponsible to discourage the disclosure of credible information concerning a presidential candidate's character. The founders of this nation insisted that the president be a man of virtue. How are the voters supposed to make an informed decision without having information pertinent to the candidate's character? Which is worse: saying unpleasant things about your opponent and preventing his election or refraining and allowing him to be elected to inflict damage on this nation?

They tell us that Gore is lying in wait for Bush, and when the campaign gets into full swing he will unleash on him with an all out expose of his checkered past. Honestly, I'm not too concerned.

Al Gore, on the other hand, is way too boring to have dissipated in his personal life. But people shouldn't mistake his presumed marital fidelity for all around integrity. In addition to fully embracing Bill Clinton's corruption by designating himself head cheerleader, he has demonstrated himself to be a dishonest and corrupt politician in his own right and his infractions are ongoing.

Those frustrated with the wholesale absence of justice for Bill Clinton may be treated to some satisfaction as this campaign unfolds.

This past weekend gives us a little glimpse into what we can expect from the Bush team, and it's not going to be pretty for Al Gore. He's apparently unfamiliar with the Confucius admonition, "he who live in glass house dress in basement."

When Bush was asked about Gore's brazen statement in the Washington Times that he would make campaign finance reform a centerpiece of his campaign, he inquired if it was an April Fool's edition. In like fashion, Bush strategist Karl Rove refused to tolerate Gore's assertions that his Buddhist temple appearance and White House fund-soliciting phone calls were simply mistakes. "This is more than just a little teensy-weensy mistake," said Rove.

Republicans and Bush operatives have finally learned how to deal with Clinton/Gore lies. And that is, to confront them head on and immediately. As we've already seen, Gore's distortions and fabrications don't work as well for him. Robots, even well lubricated ones, don't make good liars.

Rove is correct. Gore's glib statement that he has learned from his mistakes does violence to our language. Deliberate violations of law are not mistakes. You generally don't learn much from your felonies unless you are first punished for them.

Historian Paul Johnson said, "beware of those who seek to win an argument at the expense of the language. For the fact that they do so is proof positive that their argument is false, and proof presumptive that they know it is. ... Those who treasure the meaning of words, will treasure truth, and those who bend words to their purposes are very likely in pursuit of anti-social ones. The correct and honorable use of words is the first and natural credential of civilized status."

It is high time that Republicans rescue our language from Clinton and Gore. It's high time they rescue our country. Fasten your seatbelts.

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.


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?