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Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 1999/17 Tishrei, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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The Clinton/Gore taint? -- WHAT WAS THE REAL REASON the Democrats prevented President Clinton's removal from office? Was it because they truly didn't believe his felonious conduct was impeachable and removable? Not a chance!

True, they all insisted Clinton's misdeeds "didn't rise to that level." And, they were able to summon the support of countless "unbiased" constitutional scholars. But we all know they would have been singing a different tune if a Republican president had behaved similarly.

Instead of "egregious" and "reprehensible," it would have been "impeachable" and "removable." And the Republican would have been out on his ear.

What we must remember, is that in terms of presidential politics, Bill Clinton resurrected the Democratic Party. He gave it new life in two essential ways, one pre-meditated and the other, more reactive.

With malice aforethought, Clinton inaugurated class-warfare and racial politics to polarize voters and salvage the Democratic cause.

With less calculation, he transfused his party with the new blood of centrist policies. Granted, he campaigned as a moderate Democrat -- but he didn't intend to govern that way. Once in office, he only reluctantly endorsed centrist/conservative policies as a matter of political survival -- such as the welfare reform bill, which he finally signed into law after twice vetoing it.

Plus, Clinton single-handedly neutered the 1994 Republican congressional majority and its promised revolution. He not only saved the Democrats; he stopped the Republicans dead in their tracks. A guy like that, no matter how reprehensible, was worth a great deal to the Democratic Party.

Well, now that Clinton has become a lame duck, with barely over a year left in office, are Democrats finally willing to cut their ties to their adolescent savior? The answer to that question will have a great deal to do with whether Al Gore becomes the presidential nominee.

You see, the irony of relying on such a tragically flawed person as a savior is that the temporary salvation he provides will inevitably turn to destruction.

Contrary to predictions of an impeachment backlash decimating the Republican Party, a character backlash is finally catching up with the Democrats. You can smell it everywhere, but most prominently in the anemic state of Al Gore's presidential campaign.

Al Gore is not being tainted through his mere association with Clinton. He wholeheartedly embraced him at the conclusion of the Senate trial by pronouncing him one of the greatest presidents in history. As such, Gore became Clinton's accessory after the fact.

If his nonpareil dullness isn't enough to sink him, his willing adoption of Clinton's stench will be. And ever so slowly, Democratic officeholders are catching on.

Gore is a left-wing kook, but that isn't why his campaign is in trouble. People aren't yet fully aware of his nutty extremism. As a matter of fact, Bill Bradley is edging up on him from the left!

But Bradley has something else going for him, which couldn't be timelier. Regardless of his ideology, he exudes character. For voters, this provides a welcome contrast from the Clinton-stained image of Al Gore.

But just as Democratic leaders are beginning to wake up to the suicidal nature of tying their party's fortunes to Al Gore's candidacy, Gore is quietly doing what he has to do to secure the nomination.

Even though his campaign seems to be losing steam, Gore has shrewdly invested a great deal of effort into wooing Democratic congressmen -- who will automatically be sent to the Democratic convention as super-delegates and will constitute about 20 percent of all delegates.

And while Bradley has courted black voters intensively, he has failed to make inroads in Gore's South, which is the heartland of the black electorate. Without substantial African-American support and no Southern strategy, Bradley may be finished.

Despite Bradley's major inroads in New Hampshire and New York, to win the nomination he must convince enough Democratic leaders, including blacks, that Gore is a sure loser in the general election. Only those leaders can upset Gore's strategy. Bradley better begin to "court" them.

The Democrats' best chance to hold on to the White House is to finally get off the Clinton/Gore bus. Now that it's no longer expedient to rely on their discredited savior, will they abandon him? Let's hope not.

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.


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