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Jewish World Review August 28, 2000 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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A campaign divided
against itself -- LAST TIME I wrote that Gore was not really straying from the Clinton reservation by stressing Old Democrat (liberal) rather than New Democrat (more centrist) themes. Instead, he was employing another familiar Clintonian strategy: populism and class warfare.

I also said that a populist strategy was nothing new for Democrat campaigns, but that Clinton and Gore have taken it to a new level by adopting it as a model for governing. It is bad enough that they pit people against people during campaigns, but it is especially troublesome that they continue it during their tenure in office.

It turns out that both components of my theory have already been vindicated. The Washington Post confirms that Gore has purposely adopted Clinton's approach for the 1992 elections, which blended populist rhetoric with a traditional values message targeted to the "working class." Indeed, Clinton's 1992 pollster Stanley Greenberg has taken on an increasingly important advisory role to Gore in the past month.

The Greenberg factor is particularly significant because Greenberg was one of the principal architects of Clinton's now-famous tactic of governing by the polls. Together, he and Clinton used polling and focus groups to manipulate public opinion in line with Clinton's policy aims. Ronald Reagan, you may protest, did the same thing. Wrong. He did lobby the public to support his agenda but he didn't use divisive rhetoric, race-baiting, senior-scaring and focus group-tested jargon to cajole them. Clinton used whatever means necessary to achieve his ends, and Gore is now doing the same thing in his own right.

Contrary to what some have concluded, Gore has not abandoned the center with his apparent lurch to the left. The Gore-Greenberg strategy involves a more sophisticated approach to swing voters than merely to assume they are ideologically moderate, which they aren't necessarily -- a point I've been trying to make for some time now. While Clinton targeted suburbanites during 1996, Gore and Greenberg believe that most swing voters are a few rungs lower on the economic totem poll today. It is those voters Gore is now courting.

You don't really believe Gore's claim that he is for the weak and that Republicans are for the powerful, do you? This week, Gore attended a fund-raiser in Fort Lauderdale and collected an estimated $500,000 from 100 "weak" fat cats. He is not for the people, but for his special-interest constituencies. His concern is not for their welfare, but for their votes.

Don't take my word for it. Let's see what Gore's running mate, Joseph Lieberman has to say about it. In an interview earlier this week with the Wall Street Journal, Lieberman did his best to soften Gore's relentless assault against producers, achievers and business.

Lieberman is somewhat conflicted by Gore's invective against pharmaceuticals and insurance companies because he has steadily relied on them for hefty Senate campaign contributions. Apparently looking at the reporter with a straight face, Lieberman characterized Gore's policy proposals as "quite moderate." What he said next was more revealing: "Political rallies tend not to be places for extremely thoughtful argument. Rather, you have some rhetorical flourishes."

Did you catch that? Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party's Ethics Czar is telling us that you should take Gore's polarizing populism with a grain of salt. You have to understand that he's just in the heat of the campaign. Oh? Well, I wonder which part we are supposed to believe and which we should discard as hyperbole or just downright deceit.

Businesses will not be fooled by such double talk. You can't slam business and claim to be a friend of business. You can't pit people against people and bring people together. You can't be negative and usher in an era of optimism and harmony. You can't tear down family values and claim to be upholding traditional values.

Bill Clinton is one of the few politicians capable of pulling off an internally contradictory campaign message (appearing to be pro and anti-business simultaneously). Gore doesn't have Clinton's finesse. He's also running against a much tougher opponent than Clinton faced in either of his races. Just ask former President Bush.

To paraphrase a great Republican, who was quoting Scripture: A campaign divided against itself will not stand. It will eventually fall of its own weight -- and possibly a little shove from Dubya.

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.



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?