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Jewish World Review August 3, 2000/2 Menachem-Av, 5760

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports

A candidate with a superego -- PHILADELPHIA | George W. Bush reminds many of the delegates here of Ronald Reagan. He has the naturalness that suggests comfort in who he is.

He's on the national presidential stage at a much younger age, and he lacks the older man's stature and political experience. His playfulness has not yet been tamed by the wisdom that often comes with maturity. Hestill has a whiff of the youth-wants-to-know about him. But his desire to fill in his blanks suggests he's open to drawing on the knowledge of others. With the announcement of Dick Cheney as his veep, the arrogant smirk morphed into an engaging smile that hints of a little humility.

Dazzled delegates say he's a Ronald Reagan for the 21st century who surrounds himself with men and women who share his political philosophy but who know the crucial details better than he does. He's inclusive and reaches out across a broad spectrum of Americans, beginning with the Republican base.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell says he energizes Christian conservatives like Ronald Reagan did. Several guests at a party sponsored by Human Events, the magazine for hard-right conservatives, told me they trust his instincts more than they trusted his father's.

Arianna Huffington, who describes herself as a "recovering Republican'' did these conservatives a favor. She organized the hangers-on, soreheads, poor losers and '60s-radical wannabes at her Shadow Convention, where John McCain was all but silenced with hoots and boos when he spoke of his support for George W., and put them out on the fringe where nobody is paying them much attention.

George W. & Company personalize conservatism. When the public discovered that one of the Cheney daughters is a lesbian, George W. offered the embrace that comes from the heart, absorbing her into "the big family'' of his campaign. When George W. met with homosexual activists, he told them he judges people for "what's in their heart and soul.''

It sounds corny to the pressies (and no doubt to some others), but not to the Bushies and most of the delegates in Philadelphia.

Never have the negative spinners been so blatantly out of sync with the times. They put down Dick Cheney's experience and competence as a return to the past. But what desirable candidate doesn't learn from the past? Al Gore is praised for having "grown'' with his experience; Dick Cheney is merely frozen in time with his voting record. The polls suggest it's a strategy that may have to go back to the drawing board.

George W.'s opponents scorn his respect for his father's counsel as a liability. Bush biographer Bill Minutaglio says that George W. is afraid of his father -- not in the sense that he'll do something for which he should be punished -- he simply doesn't want to shame or embarrass him. Freud would call that George W.'s superego, the moral conscience called upon to discipline behavior. Not a bad thing in a president. Bill Clinton never displayed such conscience.

If Ronald Reagan is evoked by the delegates as a model for George W., their comparisons are based on both issues and character. The issues have changed, but are rooted in conservative principles, such as, less government is better than more government. But instead of abolishing the Department of Education, George W. wants to make it lean, muscular, to do the job that will help states help all children to read.

Moral issues, however, are the crucible for conservatives. President Reagan effectively ushered in the debate over "family values.'' For years, the Democratic Party's defense of the welfare status quo was retrograde, as the government took over the role of the father in the family. Illegitimacy soared. Bill Clinton, pushed by a Republican Congress, signed onto welfare reform, co-opting one of the most powerful issues generated by conservatives.

But what Bill Clinton couldn't co-opt was the moral imperatives behind the family-values folk. He personally degraded the country with his behavior in the Oval Office and shamed his wife and daughter along with the rest of us.

The Americans her husband meets on the campaign, Laura Bush told us in her opening-night speech, plead with her husband to restore a time when children can "respect the president of the United States.'' That's only part of it. But it's where the rest of it starts.


07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate