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Jewish World Review June 5, 2000 /2 Sivan, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports

Who, which, what
is the real Al Gore? -- JUST ABOUT EVERY MONTH we see a new Al Gore. Correction: Every month we see the same Al Gore engaged in yet another pathetic effort to remold his image into something more palatable to the voters.

Ironically, with every succeeding transformation, Gore makes himself less electable, especially against George Bush. It is not so much that each of Gore's new faces is less attractive to voters. But the fact that he can't stay put longer than one month in the same layer of his own skin will ultimately be unsettling to voters. The American people prefer a president who is stable, dependable and even predictable. So far, stability is not part of Gore's resume.

Gore's problem is not that he is uncomfortable with himself but that he doesn't appear to know himself. He may know who he is apart from politics (as hard as that is to imagine), but if so, he has yet to bring that person into the public light.

Think about it. If you look at any of Gore's campaigns you will find an unmistakable pattern of merciless attacks against his opponents. Sure, almost every candidate in a contested election criticizes his opponent's positions on the issues or worse. But ambush-politics have been the centerpiece of Gore's campaigns. Why is that? Well, it all goes back to the same thing. Gore is not comfortable enough with himself to rely primarily on his own positives.

Gore has also picked the wrong predecessor and the wrong time to run.

Clinton fatigue is about more than just the scandals -- though they would be trouble enough for Gore, who has embraced Clinton's scandals and engaged in many of his own. The public has also grown weary of poll-driven policy.

If Clinton is known for anything more than his corruption, it is his tireless pandering to the electorate in his policy decisions. Even if Gore could somehow escape the Clinton scandal-taint, he would still face the formidable hurdle of convincing the voters that he stands for something, based on principle above politics. And Republicans don't even need to dredge up his past 180s, such as with abortion and tobacco. He has given us a number of real-time examples in this campaign cycle, including his about-face on privatizing Social Security and the issue of Elian Gonzalez.

Gore's chameleon-like evolution is made to order for George Bush. For regardless of what criticisms can be leveled against Dubya, most agree that he is quite comfortable with himself. He knows who he is and he likes himself. Bush's authenticity, by contrast, will magnify Gore's unsteadiness.

Maybe in his eyes!

Contrary to mainstream media accounts, Bush has been remarkably consistent throughout the primaries into the general election campaign. Yes, he changed his position on whether he would meet with gay leaders, but he did not change his policy toward gay issues, and that's what counts. He has been consistent on the issues, even when it did not appear to benefit him politically. His tax plan is a good example.

The media argue that Bush completely changed to fend off the McCain challenge in North Carolina. A more accurate assessment is that he started speaking to his conservative base. But he did not change his positions on issues. So Bush may plead guilty to occasionally repackaging himself, which is simply smart politics. But repackaging is a far cry from changing the contents of the package -- and that is what Gore has repeatedly done.

Despite early concerns in some quarters, Bush has emerged as his own man with an arsenal of substantive policy proposals. He has surrounded himself with an impressive array of political heavyweights, which has enhanced his reputation as a competent leader.

Critics argue that Bush has been slow to announce his proposals. But it's better to be deliberate and constant than to play hit-and-miss with the issues, using confused voters as guinea pigs. Perhaps Gore would have to change less had he gotten it right the first time, or the second, or even the third.

Don't listen to the egghead political scientists whose models say this election is Gore's to lose. These sterile analyses fail to factor in the all-important intangibles, such as corruption and poll fatigue, leadership, stability and affability. Poor Albert Jr.'s got his work cut out for him.

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.



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?