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Jewish World Review /Jan. 6, 1999 /17 Teves, 5759


Mugger MUGGER & the Martians

SORRY TO DUMP ON MAUREEN DOWD AGAIN, but she invites the criticism. Iím thinking specifically of her ludicrous Times column on Dec. 27. She begins: "When it comes to New Yearís Eve, I am firmly in the camp of pink champagne and black cha-cha heels."

Iíll bet. Iím sure she watched some old Michael Douglas movie and ate Devil Dogs and Doritos while curled up on the coach in comfy jammies and slippers. Dowd continues: "I canít fathom the phenomenon of trekking off to resorts to attend a lot of earnest panels and hang out with all the same people we are sick of seeing on MSNBC."

She was referring to Clintonís Renaissance Weekend in Hilton Head and the conservative counterpart The Weekend, which I attended at the Biltmore in Phoenix. Dowd is bipartisan in her digs, but is nastier to the GOP: "But now Republicans call it ĎThe Weekend,í the event formerly known as ĎDark Ages,í to disguise the uncomfortable fact that Republicans have, in fact, brought about the Dark Ages."

Now, I ask you, is such absurd hyperbole a way to bring in the new year? If these are the Dark Ages, I canít wait until civilization kicks in. After all, why do you think Clinton still gets high approval ratings? Itís because people are working, their pockets are stuffed with money, the only war (for Americans) is played out like a PlayStation game and Mark McGwire hit 70 round-trippers.

Iíd been in Phoenix for less than a day but already I was content: My suite was large, a heated pool was right outside the terrace, the room service was quick and I had the best red burro of my life at a Mexican dive called Ritoís in Garfield, a rough and tumble Hispanic crack neighborhood, with my Phoenician friend Jim Larkin, at lunch. Hardball was on in the background while I wrote, my e-mail box was overflowing since MUGGERís online version at Jewish World Review (jewishworldreview.com) was linked on The Drudge Report and Salon took a week off. Aside from seeing the fruity Michael Kinsley on Crossfire, and missing my wife and boys, it was pretty damn relaxing.

Last Wednesdayís news of the day was that John McCain is ready to run for president. Like all longshots, the idiots in the adoring Boomer Beltway media say it might not take as much money for such an attractive candidate (translated: He was a POW so they could protest against the war, smoke pot and get laid a lot) because his message is so compelling. Come again? Heís for campaign finance reform but raises cash from PACs for his own races. Heís in favor of a huge tax in the form of a tobacco bill. That might play with The Washington Postís Richard Cohen, but not with GOP primary voters.

I was distressed to read a New York Post editorial on Jan. 1 extolling McCainís candidacy. While the paper disagrees with the "maverick" Senator on some issues they feel heís a man of integrity. John Podhoretz should talk to people in Arizona. The Postís editorial said: "McCain is a legitimate American hero who inspires wholehearted respect and admiration from friend and foe alike... A presidential candidate who can serve as a genuine role model for Americaís youth." As a Korean War veteran in Arizona once famously said about McCain: "He wasnít a hero; he just got caught."

McCain might be immune from Sidney Blumenthal since Clinton feels guilty around the Senator, but the guyís personal baggage is plenty. Girls, girls, girls and a lot of questionable land dealings too. And he tells mean jokes about teenagers who used to live in the White House. McCainís a scumbag who has nothing else to do.

I donít minimize his horrific POW torture in Vietnam, but his bad luck there doesnít make him a hero. And as a role model for Americaís youth, the Post will find out in months to come that McCain, an adulterer who was mixed up in the Charles Keating scam, isnít all that clean. As he told the Timesí Katharine Seelye, who covered The Weekend in the same biased, snotty manner she did the Dole campaign in í96, "Iíve had a colorful past." He might compete, perhaps outlast Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle and John Ashcroft, but no one is stopping the George W. Bush express in 2000. I donít know why McCain doesnít just admit heís seeking the secretary of defense post in a Bush administration. Now, with his temper, that might be dangerous, but George W. will have to cut some deals on the way to the nomination.

Then again, I was speaking with a friend at a cocktail party at the Biltmore who spun another McCain theory. It goes like this: McCain builds up momentum slowly, hopes Bush stumbles in the summer, is the beneficiary of media boredom with Bush and Steve Forbes around Labor Day and then rides a Colin Powell-like wave in the fall to become Bushís main challenger. He makes foreign policy the key issue, maybe skips Iowa, scores an upset in New Hampshire and then coasts to California. But as another journalist told me, "If I do my job right, McCain has a half-life of six months." Cheers to that. Jeez, in the Arizona Republic on Thursday the news of McCainís exploratory committee barely made the front page. There was nothing on the op-ed page, save the four-day-old Dowd column I mentioned above and a George Will essay that was also growing a beard.

Maybe Iím getting old, but David Broder doesnít seem nearly the wishy-washy pundit he did just a year ago. Actually, itís just because heís so anti-Clinton that Iíve come around to actually finishing his columns in The Washington Post. Like the one on Dec. 30, which was his annual, and corny, message to readers about all the times he screwed up in the past 12 months.
I bet Broder even goes to church. Most of his mail came from people who said he was too hard on Clinton. Broder, to his credit, was earnest but steadfast in holding his ground, writing: "I have saidóto the intense irritation of many of youóthat resignation would be a true act of contrition by a president who admits he has Ďmisledí his colleagues in government and the American people. It would be a voluntary act, prompted only by his conscience and his respect for his oath of office. And it would permit a man who shares Clintonís entire agenda, but is unimpaired by his character deficits, to assume the presidencyóas the voters have ordained."

A profile in media courage. While dimwits like Clarence Page and Lars-Erik Nelson, not to mention about 90 newspapers, have recanted their calls for resignation, Broder stands tall. He may have excessive reverence for the institution of the presidency and all that baloney, but I respect him enormously for bucking the trend among his sorry colleagues.

Before the Gloom Set In

I STOPPED IN BRIEFLY at the opening shindig for The Weekend and, shy guy that I am, didnít meet many people. One disconcerting note at registration was that the nametags had everyoneís first name in large type (so West Coast) and their surname practically in agate. I did inject myself into a conversation with two arch-conservatives
eviscerating Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren from California for her imbecilic hypocrisy during the House Judiciary Committee proceedings. David Horowitz, one of the eventís organizers, opened the proceedings and gave a short speech, clutching a bottle of water like Bob Dole did with his pen on the campaign stump. Arizonaís Rep. John Shadegg then gave a homey talk, recalling Barry Goldwater, mentioning that Dan Quayle lives near the Biltmore and encouraging conventioneers to shop, shop, shop in the nearby stores.

Good for his district. He wasnít too impressiveóit was mostly a chamber-of-commerce kind of greetingóbut he did make the important point that the Democratsí talk of a coup during the impeachment proceedings was a bunch of hogwash.

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, was brief in his remarks but typically witty. "What kind of year was it?" he asked the crowd. "Well, the stock market is up and Bill Clinton was impeached." That line got the biggest roar of the night, including some whoops from a few fellows who were guzzling rum & Cokes.

I spoke to Kristol a few minutes later and commiserated that Trent Lott was backing down again, just as it appeared he was growing a backbone, by talking compromise in the Senate trial. If all these goo-goos like Jimmy Carter and Jerry Ford can stay out of the fray, let the holidays recede and the GOP senators just stay quiet and stay off television, then every day a compromise for censure isnít reached, the worse it is for Bill Clinton.

If the trial lasts two weeks, heís off with a slap on the butt. If it goes longer, witnesses are called, and it keeps going until March, say hello to President Al Gore. Again, I just donít understand why Democrats, who donít like Clinton, arenít dragging him out of the Oval Office in favor of an incumbent whoíll have a head start on the 2000 presidential election. Iím not behind the scenes at the White House, thank God, but maybe thatís the strategy: If a censure isnít immediately forthcoming, on Jan. 23, when Gore becomes eligible to finish Clintonís term and run for two on his own, this plan goes into effect. With a full pardon for both Clintons, of course.

Now, if Matt Drudge is correct, and he usually is, about the Starís upcoming report on Clintonís purported love child, born to an underage black Arkansas prostitute 13 years ago, the political landscape will shift once again. Allegedly, the Starr report has photos showing the teenager to be the spitting image of Clinton, and he wants to meet his deadbeat dad. No wonder Clintonís the first black president. The DNA testing is being done, the boy and his family are sequestered and aides at the White House are dirtying their drawers. Shucks, Iím sure Chelsea always wanted a little brother. And just imagine what Hillary will do after this bombshell breaks. If I were the President, Iíd wear an iron jockstrap to bed.

JWR contributor "Mugger" is the editor-in-chief and publisher of New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


12/30/98 : Last Licks of í98: Some Heroes, Several Villains & Many Idiots
12/17/98 : Boy Mugger's obsession
12/11/98: Irvingís the King Wolf
12/09/98: What do Matt Drudge and Tom Hanks have in common?
11/26/98: Starrís Magnificent Moment
11/18/98: Who could have imagined!?
11/11/98: Send Dowd Down to the Minors
11/05/98: Feeding Gore to a shark named Bush
10/30/98: "Pope" Jann and his rappers speak ---it's time for fun again
10/28/98: Lowered expectations, but the GOP holds the cards
10/23/98: Speaking from Zabarís: Michael Moore!
10/21/98: Bubba redux? His uptick won't last
10/16/98: Gore for President: The Bread Lines Are Starting to Form

©1998, Russ Smith