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Jewish World Review August 21, 2000 / 20 Menachem-Av, 5760

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
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Consumer Reports

An AlGore victory? Only if dead birds fly -- A FRIEND suggested that instead of my constant carping on how much I think Al Gore will lose, I should write a column on what Gore needs to do to win. Great suggestion. The only problem is that nobody I know can come up with a plausible scenario for a Gore win.

With every passing hour, this race is turning into the political equivalent of Monty Python's "dead parrot" sketch, with Gore as the deceased bird and his spinners saying, "He's not dead, he's resting."

Gore's convention speech Thursday night was like a meal you expected to be awful that turned out to only taste bland. While he received a bounce from the speech, remember, even dead parrots bounce.

To be sure, there are plenty of scenarios for a Bush loss, in which his campaign implodes somehow. But it's hard to think of a strategy that Gore could implement, independent of a Bush screw-up - like snorting cocaine during one of the debates - that would assure victory for the Democrats.

So, in regards to offering the Democrats winning advice in the near future --- other than dumping Gore and nominating someone else - until the landscape changes, there's none to give.

In the meantime, however, there is a plausible scenario, contrary to conventional wisdom, in which Gore loses by a landslide. Most pundits contend this will be a close race, decided in a handful of swing states.

While that's still the more likely scenario, it is becoming less and less certain. If Gore loses -- and I think he will -- the odds are that it will be by a wide margin.

Lee Atwater, the late Republican strategist, used to say "never kick a man when he's up." He surely must have learned that from the liberals. The left loves to eat its own, and if Gore is still behind by 10 to 12 points by Labor Day (the leader on Labor Day tends to win the election) then stand back, because chum will be in the water.

Blacks, unions and ultraliberals - as has been reported all week - have serious reservations about the top and/or bottom of the Gore-Lieberman ticket. The unions don't like either of their positions on trade. Blacks are wary of Lieberman's once-principled opposition to racial quotas. And though ultraliberals backed Clinton because they liked him personally and missed being in power, they don't like Gore personally and they're not sure they get much from Gore being in power.

If Gore looks like a loser, then these constituencies could easily decide to send a message that their concerns cannot be trifled with. No one gets rich betting on a losing horse. And we very well might see many people changing their bets if Gore can't close the distance, and soon, between him and Bush.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is determined to "take back the House" for the Democrats, as the delegates chanted Wednesday night. If it looks like Gore is a drag on his efforts, he will surely cut him loose, the same way many Republican congressmen did when President Bush was flailing in 1992.

Gephardt might start raising money for ads and organizing on the premise that the country needs a Democratic Congress to thwart a Republican president.

But the most devastating vehicle for a message vote could be Ralph Nader. Most liberal voters are pragmatic about their ballots. They will vote for almost any Democrat who can win, even Al Gore. But if liberals decide that Al Gore is going to lose anyway, then why not send a message and vote for Ralph Nader?

Any one of a number of dominoes could fall to trigger this freefall. If it looks like blacks will sit on their hands because of Lieberman; if it looks like Bush can actually carry California (it is universally agreed that Gore cannot win without California) or even come close enough there to drag Gore away from the swing states he needs; if Gore has his own gaffe during a debate, claiming to have invented beer or some such; or if Al Gore doesn't get more than a dead-parrot bounce out of his convention speech, Gore could lose a la Walter Mondale in 1984.

Again, this is not the most likely of scenarios, but it may be more likely than a Gore win.

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


08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
06/23/00: If Fonda is sorry, let her say so
06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

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