Jewish World Review August 23, 2000 / 22 Menachem-Av, 5760
Al Gore's trickle-down populism
HAS THE BUSH CAMPAIGN been crippled by the Gore freight
train? I think not, but Gore's temporary convention
bounce should serve as a wake-up call and an antidote
for overconfidence for the Bush camp.
Last week's events in Los Angeles were very odd, to say
the least. Granted, people have short memories, but,
regarding the Democrat convention, we're talking
wholesale amnesia. Throughout the week leading up to
the main event analysts were almost unanimous in
declaring the convention a flop -- especially when
compared with the nearly flawless Republican one a few
weeks earlier. Then Gore gave his speech.
My reaction was that it was an insultingly populist rant.
Surely not that many people are going to fall for this, I
thought to myself. I noticed that most talking heads were
initially unimpressed as well.
The first post-convention polls revealed no significant
bump for Gore. Then, things started to change. New
polls showed an astronomical bounce for Gore. One
pre-convention poll had Bush ahead by 16 points.
Afterwards, another one had him behind by 6,
representing a 22-point swing. That's amazing,
particularly for such a lackluster convention.
As the polls evolved, so did many pundits' opinions --
retroactively, no less. They wanted us to believe that they
had adjudged Gore's speech effective all along. They said
Gore needed to hit a home run, and he did. What an
insult to Mark McGwire.
I've read some of the poll analyses, and they strike me as
unintelligible. They say that Gore finally carved out his
own niche by distancing himself from Clinton and
emerging as his own man. I'm not buying it. That's way
too sophisticated an analysis.
The commentators' initial reaction (the negative one) was
that Gore made a mistake by appealing to the Old
Guard, the extreme left wing of the party. They said that
as much as he needed to break away from Clinton in
certain areas, i.e., integrity, he should have emphasized
centrist, New Democrat themes to reach swing voters.
Without question, Gore blew off the center and went
straight for his liberal base, but when we focus on this
New vs. Old Democrat distinction I believe we're missing
On closer inspection, Gore did not stray far from the
Clinton reservation. Forget the New Democrat thing.
Clinton's political magic has never been in the substance
of his policy proposals, but in marketing himself and the
issues. The issues themselves have always been
secondary. The common denominator between Clinton's
campaigns and the new Gore campaign is the
class-warfare theme. Clinton-Gore called it trickle-down
economics. Gore-Lieberman are calling it the powerful
versus the people. It's the same old divisive tune, and it
Democrats were using this strategy way before Clinton,
but Clinton and Gore have taken it to a new level. It used
to be a device mainly geared to campaigns. Now it is
also a credo for governance. That's the scariest thing
about the Clinton-Gore legacy and the most compelling
reason that Gore must be defeated. America simply
cannot long survive as a republic -- at least not as a great
one -- with this relentless pitting of people against people.
It is a guaranteed formula to complete our transformation
from a harmonious melting pot to a balkanized nanny
Because swing voters are politically impressionable, Bush
is going to have to do some educating. He should
continue to stress themes of freedom and self-reliance
(with a touch of compassion -- "every willing heart")
because he's never going to out-promise Santa Gore.
The campaign is going to get dirty, and the media will
mainly blame Bush. Gore will continue to tell his tall tales
and trumpet polarizing themes. The further behind he falls
-- he'll revert to being behind when his "bounce" settles --
the nastier he will become. When Bush calls him on it
(because the "watchdog" media won't) he will be
characterized as the one who drew first blood. Bush is
just going to have to deal with it. The alternative would
be to let the misrepresentations go unchecked.
One thing the major poll shifts do show is that neither
candidate's support is very deep at this point, so the
election will probably go down to the wire. As long as
Bush stays the course and doesn't allow himself to be
unduly ruffled by Gore's tactics and the media's inevitably
uncritical portrayal of them, he should win quite handily in
commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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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
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05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
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05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
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04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
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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
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01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
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?
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11/22/99: Architects of victory
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11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
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11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
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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
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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?
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08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
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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
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07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
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06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?
© 2000, CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.