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Jewish World Review August 17, 2000 / 16 Menachem-Av, 5760

Jonah Goldberg

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Consumer Reports

AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs -- LOS ANGELES | When I left the Staples Center here in Los Angeles last night, I felt like I had emerged from a bunker. The Democratic Convention compound was surrounded by a perimeter of mesh fences and concrete barriers. Hundreds if not thousands of police in paramilitary garb patrolled the area. The stench of pepper spray was everywhere, as the LAPD had dispersed a marauding crowd of protesters only moments before.

But it wasn't the bedlam and sirens outside the arena that made me feel like I'd just left a bunker. Rather it was the raucous atmosphere of denial inside. Like generals gorging on hidden rations and false reports of strategic success, the Democratic delegates steadfastly refuse to realize the war is lost.

Some people believe that if President Clinton could run for a third term he would win in a landslide. It's a plausible argument, though I think Clinton would get trounced. Nevertheless, what seems to be lost on so many delegates is that Bill Clinton is not running for a third term.

That was most apparent when Clinton tried to sell the audience on Al Gore. As he listed Gore's attributes, the crowd responded like children being told by their parents how great the new baby-sitter will be, when all the kids really want is for mom and dad to stay home.

The lack of applause during Clinton's tribute to Gore was perhaps one of the most significant silences in recent political history. The liberal base of the Democratic Party simply has not come to grips with the fact Al Gore is all they've got.

Evidence of this can be found everywhere: the thousands of leftist protesters denouncing the "conservative" Democratic ticket; California Congresswoman Maxine Waters -- a nasty but influential left-wing icon -- refuses to endorse Gore; Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is closing on double digits in the polls in some important states, namely California.

And perhaps the most worrisome sign for Gore this week was when Richard Gephardt, the House minority leader, appeared before a union rally in Los Angeles and never once mentioned the president, the vice president or the White House. Clearly Gephardt is not counting for any Gore coattails in November for House Democrats.

Meanwhile, party loyalists, blind to the quicksand to their left are also whistling past the graveyard when it comes to Gore's problems with the rest of the electorate. Even as the left thinks Gore is too conservative, the middle and the right think he is way too liberal.

A Gallup poll conducted for CNN and USA Today this week found that 47 percent of all likely voters say there is "no chance whatsoever" they will vote for Al Gore. During the same period in 1992 and 1996, 43 percent of likely voters said there was no chance they would vote for George Bush or Bob Dole for president.

For more than a year and half, in 230 polls matching Gore and Governor George W. Bush, the vice president has never polled above 46 percent of the vote. And Gore is the nominee of the incumbent party during unprecedented prosperity and peace.

I have long believed Gore is doomed because Americans don't like second-bananas (in two centuries, America has elected only two incumbent vice presidents straight to the Oval Office) or people who talk down to them or people who sound like the evil computer HAL in the movie "2001."

Gore is a second-banana who talks down to Americans who sounds like --- well, you get the picture. But judging from all the cheers and hootenanny in L.A. this week, the Democrats surely don't.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


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