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Jewish World Review/Oct. 20, 1998/ 1 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez It ain't over yet

A FEW WEEKS AGO, some political analysts were predicting that Republicans could gain as many as six Senate and 20 or more House seats in upcoming congressional elections.

Now, less than two weeks to the election, many of these same experts are ready to throw in the towel on the GOP. What happened? "It's the impeachment inquiry, stupid," say the pundits. Americans are fed up with Clinton bashing and blame the Republicans for partisan haggling.

midterm Don't bet on it. Sure, most people are skittish about impeaching a president who was twice elected by American voters. In more than 200 years as a nation, we've only come to this point twice before. What's more, although there are serious constitutional issues at stake in the Clinton impeachment inquiry -- namely, whether the president of the United States is above the law -- the basic facts of the case nonetheless center around sex. And most Americans would rather not have to think about the president's sex life. But that doesn't mean most voters will rush to the polls to protect Bill Clinton.

Voters in this election will fall into two main categories. The first group -- mostly conservative Republicans but including some traditional Democrats, especially those who attend shul and church regularly -- are deeply angry about the way in which Bill Clinton besmirched not only himself but the presidency. The second group -- mostly Democrats, but including some middle-of-the-road Republicans and soccer moms -- generally support Bill Clinton's policies but find his behavior highly embarrassing, at best.

The first group has far more incentive than the latter to get out and vote Nov. 3. Anger, after all, is a great political motivator. It was anger, mostly at Hillary Clinton's power grab on health care, that sent Republican voters to the polls in 1994 to elect a Republican Congress. This time around, those voters who are most angry at Bill Clinton have every reason to show up at the polls. By doing so, they increase the likelihood that the president will have to face real consequences for his actions: probable impeachment by the House and perhaps, though unlikely, conviction by the Senate.

On the other hand, the second group of voters doesn't risk all that much by staying home. The odds that Bill Clinton will be booted out of office are quite slim even if Republicans pick up five or six new Senate seats. Meanwhile, there are no defining issues in this election. All in all, it may not be worth the effort to get to the polls Nov. 3, unless a local congressional or gubernatorial race is really attractive.

But what about that small group of voters who are fanatical Clinton supporters? You know, the James Carville clones who believe Monica Lewinsky was an agent provocateur of the right wing who seduced Bill Clinton in order to stop him from doing the people's business? Sure, they have reason to show up Nov. 3, but then, there aren't very many of them. Turnout is everything in off-year elections, and most surveys show the likeliest voters will be pulling the Republican lever.

Democratic congressional leaders know the chances of their party picking up seats this year are slim to none. The best they can hope for is to keep the Republican gains modest and tout that small achievement as a victory. For all the Democrats' crowing about having won some major concessions from the Republicans on appropriations battles last week, the fact is, Democrats are in a weaker position than they have been in years. With no hope of regaining the Congress this time around, they're facing the likelihood of losing the White House as well in the next election.

Bill Clinton may be a great politician, and he is surely a survivor, but he's damaged his party's chances at the national level for the foreseeable future.


10/15/98: Mourning motherhood
9/23/98: Sosa and the race card
9/23/98: Believable and truthful are two different things
9/16/98: Time for a new Amendment!
9/08/98: When silence is truly golden
8/25/98: Bears and blunders
8/25/98: Only consistency about Prez's anti-terrorism policy: its inconsistency
8/18/98: Is our 'broken-compass' beyond fixing?
8/11/98: Reno's risk
8/04/98: When Truth is of the highest odor
7/28/98: No way to protect ourselvesagainst a nut's wrath
7/22/98: These 'choice' advocates are being demonzied ... by the Left.
7/15/98: Will 'neonaticide' become the new buzzword?
7/07/98: Urge to mega-merge, stopped in time
6/30/98: Why take responsibility if
somebody else will pay?
6/23/98: Blinded by the red, or is it the green?
6/17/98: Flotsam in the wake of romance
6/10/98: We have a ways to go in the bilingual war
6/3/98: Tyson's triumph over tragedy
5/28/98: Why Univision's Perenchio is out to hurt his fellow Hispanics
5/20/98: Sometimes Buba actually tells the truth ... as he sees it
5/12/98: Chill-out on the chihuahua and ... Seinfeld
5/8/98: The revolution is just about over
4/28/98: Let's face it: both parties are full of hypocrites
4/21/98: Legislating equality
4/14/98: One down, many to go
4/7/98: Mexican mayhem?
3/31/98: Of death and details
3/25/98: Americans are unaware of NATO expansion
3/18/98: Intellectual-ghettoes in the name of diversity
3/11/98: Be careful what you wish for ...
3/4/98: The Press' Learning-disability
2/25/98: 50 States Are Enough!
2/18/98: Casey at the Mat
2/11/98: The legal profession's Final Solution
2/4/98: Faith and the movies
1/28/98: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Politics Vs. Principle
1/21/98: Movement on the Abortion Front
1/14/98: Clones, Courts, and Contradictions
1/7/98: Child custody or child endangerment?
12/31/97: Jerry Seinfeld, All-American
12/24/97: Affirmative alternatives: New initiatives for equal opportunity are out there
12/17/97: Opening a window of opportunity (a way out of bilingual education for California's Hispanic kids)

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.