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Jewish World Review Sept. 4, 2000 / 3 Elul, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports

Al Gore's 'Trivial Pursuits' -- AL GORE is telling George Bush to "put up or shut up" and begin dealing with the specifics of campaign issues. My fervent hope is that Bush doesn't permit Gore to become his campaign manager.

Besides, Gore's charge is inaccurate. Bush does have specific plans on most issues, which are readily accessible to voters, and Gore knows it. Reading between the lines, what Gore is really saying is: "Let's campaign on my turf. Let's do what I do best to make sure the public sees my strongest side and your weakest."

There is no reason for the Bush campaign to panic. Gore's recent surge in the polls was inevitable. He just came off a media-enhanced convention bounce during which he promised 2.3 trillion dollars worth of giveaways. He recently chose Joe Lieberman as his running mate, sending the media into a drooling frenzy over the prospect that he'd eliminated the ghost of Bill Clinton in one fell swoop. The economy is still booming. Plus, the media has quite conspiratorially slipped back into their Bush-bashing mode. By capitalizing on a few malapropisms, they're depicting Bush as a spastic stumblebum.

With all these things going his way, Gore should be on a serious roll right now -- but he's not. Despite these positive factors, Gore is barely tied in the popular vote and decisively trails in the projected electoral vote. He's the one who should be sweating.

Gore set the tone for his campaign when he decided to ignore his handlers and approach his convention acceptance speech, and the campaign itself, as a real-life game of "Trivial Pursuit," offering a specific solution for every conceivable problem. Nowhere is it decreed that Bush must follow suit.

Bush mustn't allow himself to be dragged into the murky milieu of minutiae. He must focus on a finite number of major themes, not to impersonate Ronald Reagan, but because it's what he believes in doing and what he does best.

How quickly we forget the predictions of Bush's doom preceding the Republican primaries. "He'll choke in the debates," said the naysayers. No matter how you score his debate performances, he acquitted himself well enough to go on to vanquish his formidable opponents in the primaries.

Gore is intent on showing he's the smartest guy in the room -- or the universe for that matter. Bush should let Gore continue to caricature himself as a mad scientist (see his book "Earth in the Balance") and the maniacal messiah of micromanagement, who offers a federal solution for all of society's ills, from AIDS to child poverty.

In fact, the more Gore reveals of himself, the better off Bush will be, for Gore's proclivity toward tinkering with every miniscule aspect of life extends to global proportions, literally. For example, Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal recently detailed Gore's approach to national security. Gore is trying to redefine national security to include a plethora of issues, not remotely related to protecting the United States, such as the overfishing of global waters, the spread of AIDS and the rise of genetically engineered crops.

What this would mean in practice is that Gore would address small problems abroad early and aggressively to ensure that they never mushroom into major problems. What would mushroom is our military deployments in the sovereign affairs of other nations. No benchmark philosophy, such as safeguarding our national interests, would govern which situations would warrant intervention. It would be an ad-hoc foreign policy of breathtaking proportions. Under this expansive notion of national security, Gore would call for intervention on the basis of "environmental, scientific and social problems that could destabilize the world."

Bush should encourage Gore to talk about those specifics. He should also, by contrast, continue to emphasize his belief that the president should not approach governing as if the United States were one gigantic math problem. The president will face issues he never anticipated and for which there is no canned response, no cue card, no carefully-crafted policy paper. In those cases, the president will need to summon his common sense, sound judgment, maturity and the wisdom of his brightest advisers.

If Gore isn't careful, he may get what he wishes for: public awareness of his unlimited willingness to use the power of government to usher in his disturbingly bizarre concept of utopia.

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.



08/30/00: 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?