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Jewish World Review April 14, 1999 /28 Nissan 5759


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The Bush JugGoreNaut Continues

(JWR) ---- (
THERE IS A POLITICAL MYTH TODAY, disseminated by the liberal Beltway media (the DC-Boston axis), that the Republican Party is in such disarray after the impeachment debacle that Al Gore, even though he’s stumbled on the hustings so far, is the odds-on favorite to succeed President Clinton.

David Nyhan, The Boston Globe columnist who, if there were a journalism award for laziness, would win hands-down, typifies this thinking. Writing about the presidential campaign on April 9, Nyhan predicts Gore will be the winner; if not the role model for Love Story, according to the pundit, then it’ll be George W. Bush, Lamar Alexander, John McCain or Bill Bradley. No one else has a shot. I agree with Nyhan that Dan Quayle, Gary Bauer, John Kasich, Elizabeth Dole and Pat Buchanan don’t have a chance.

In addition, I wish that Steve Forbes would change tactics and run for the Senate from New Jersey instead of quixotically competing for the GOP presidential nod; he’d win in a landslide, unlike Gov. Christie Whitman, who’s in for a bruising race, unless her challenger is Jim Florio.

Nyhan especially likes the chances of Alexander, who he says has built such strong organizations in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire that he’ll be in the catbird’s seat should Bush stumble along the way. That’s wishful thinking, but Nyhan—clearly worried that Bush has it in the bag—comes up with this stunning statement, perhaps to purposely delude himself and his readers. He writes: "The decision of New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg to put his statewide organization behind Bush is significant. Bush is top-heavy with endorsements from governors and lobbyists. [Not to mention more than 100 members of Congress.]... But we’ve seen big winds out of Texas blow themselves out before. John Connally, Phil Gramm and Ross Perot sputtered despite huge war chests. Bush reminds some of Ted Kennedy in 1980, a front-runner with piles of dough who peaks the day he announces.

"Bush has everything a candidate needs—except a set of crisply defined goals, and maybe the stomach for the fray... If Bush stumbles in Iowa, as his father did in ’92, the beneficiary might be Alexander."

(Here’s the laziness at play: President Bush didn’t stumble in Iowa in ’92—he won—but rather in ’88 when Pat Robertson shocked the political establishment by winning the caucuses there. It just amazes me that The Boston Globe, which must have an editorial staff that numbers in the hundreds, could let such an obvious error get into print. That’s a union shop for you.)

But let’s back up to the Texas and Kennedy analogies.

The Texans Nyhan cites—Gramm, Connally and Perot—indeed amassed a prodigious amount of money, but not one of them collected as many endorsements as Gov. Bush; not one of them had the Republican establishment flocking to Austin to beg them to run, Colin Powell-style; and not one of them had the aura of invincibility that Bush now possesses. In addition, look at the flaws of each of the Texans Nyhan writes about. Connally was up against Ronald Reagan; Perot’s a kook; and Gramm, although he’d make an excellent president, was saddled with a homely face and an even more off-putting accent.

Nyhan, along with other Beltway "experts," claims that Bush’s message is fuzzy, which is simply wrong. Sure, Bush didn’t have an immediate response on Kosovo—ceding that ground to McCain—but it’s not as if President Clinton’s explanation of the crisis was very clear either.

More importantly, Bush indeed has a set of core beliefs: Unlike past GOP candidates, although he’s personally pro-life, he’s not set on overturning Roe v. Wade until he feels that’s the country’s desire. He’s a tax-cutter, pro-immigration, believes that government should be smaller and stop interfering with small businesses, and a fiery advocate of real education reform, not just issuing school uniforms. That’s a strong platform, one that will resonate with voters across the country, and he hasn’t even started campaigning yet.

As for Nyhan’s Kennedy analogy, that’s just another example of sloppy thinking. First, Kennedy was running against an incumbent president in his own party, Jimmy Carter, who had most of the Democratic establishment behind him. Second, although the Senator had access to a massive campaign war chest, he never articulated a clear rationale as to why he wanted to be president, which was captured, disastrously for Kennedy, in a famous interview with Roger Mudd in the fall of ’79.

Kennedy, without the benefit of his brainy speechwriters, was forced to speak extemporaneously with Mudd, and stuttered and mumbled throughout the program. It’s true that a sizable liberal base would support Kennedy—even after Chappaquiddick, a shaky marriage and public displays of boozing, a low-rent Camelot was preferable to the peanut farmer from Georgia, of all places—but he never got the traction that was necessary to mount a significant challenge.

In that campaign, which I covered for my paper in Baltimore, it wasn’t until Kennedy knew he wouldn’t win the nomination that he suddenly became an impressive candidate, making forceful and exciting speeches that ripped Carter’s lackluster presidency to shreds. It was as if he never really wanted to win and only made the effort because as the remaining Kennedy brother he was expected to.

People who know Bush well have told me the following: Count on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to be tapped as his running mate. Ridge, a popular tax-cutter in a pivotal rust-belt state, who’s also pro-choice, would make an excellent selection.

With California a longshot, given that Gore has made the state his second home, raising money with the mindlessly liberal Hollywood crowd (although Bill Bradley has also tapped into that motherlode) and the unfortunate fact that the country’s largest state has a pitiful Republican organization, Bush needs the Midwest to add to his southern and Rocky Mountain base.

Also, it’s likely that Elizabeth Dole will abandon her candidacy before the primaries even start, realizing that her automaton style is not going to attract voters, and will endorse Bush. In addition, after he spends a fortune touting his anti-tax, smaller-government message, look for Forbes to get behind the Texas governor; my hunch is that a deal has already been struck with the billionaire publisher and he’ll wind up with a prestigious position in the Bush administration.

Send Sharpton to A Rwanda Fat Farm

MUGGER III AND I WERE BROWSING in a souvenir shop at Penn Station last Wednesday when I noticed a cop standing by a miniature Statue of Liberty curio. I asked him, "What do you think of Al Sharpton?" and received this clipped reply, fortunately out of earshot of my four-year-old, who was transfixed by a display of model cars: "I think he’s a low-life, scum-sucking swine."

P.T. Sharpton
Right on the money.

I dislike Mayor Giuliani intensely. He’s a grandstanding bully who suffers from an extreme lack of manners. He’s often demagogic. Whenever he’s pictured in a Yankees jacket, I’m ready to hurl; the horrific photo of the Mayor in the March 30 New York Post, mugging for the camera with New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard A. Grasso when the Dow hit 10,000, as if he had anything to do with it, is now on my wall at work.

All I need is a set of darts. But P.T. Sharpton is 10 times worse; he’s an evil man who showboats more dangerously than Giuliani. His parade of celebrities and black officials at police headquarters in the last month was a disgrace; let’s get our plastic cuffs and citation and then continue the party at Balthazar! Maybe pop a bottle of champagne as a reward after such a traumatic morning. David Dinkins’ mouthing self-righteous criticism of Giuliani’s administration was hypocrisy worthy of Bill Clinton.

By any measure, crime is dramatically down in New York City, just as it is across the nation. I remember attending an event at the World Trade Center in ’87 and the lobby was filled with vagrants; it was an incongruous and sad scene, these bums with blankets begging for change while women checked their furs. I’m not sure where the homeless have evaporated to, but to hear the left-wing bray about Giuliani, you’d believe the Mayor had all of them—and the squeegee pests and panhandlers—lined up before a firing squad and thrown in the East River.

Rudy’s genocide!

In the summer of ’88, when NYPress’ offices were on Broadway, I was looking out the window and saw a man casually smash the window of a car and steal the radio, as well as the glove compartment’s contents. It was a sunny day in Soho, filled with residents and tourists, and though the car’s alarm was blaring, no one looked twice at the thief, and he walked down the street with his ill-gotten merchandise. Just a week later, strolling down Broadway during a parade, I saw a woman instruct her child to defecate in the street; no fuss, no muss. Again, no one thought twice about it; this was New York City under the Koch and Dinkins regimes.

Is this chaotic atmosphere what New York residents want a revival of? I don’t.

Even Michael Moore, the millionaire/populist filmmaker who’s currently fouling the Bravo cable channel with his new The Awful Truth, told the Daily News last week, "I moved here in the early ’90s, and the city is today in many respects a much better place to live. Liberals don’t like to admit that, but it’s true." Moore, whose idea of remaining true to his roots is drinking a can of Stroh’s beer while in a limo, has devoted four of his 12 Bravo episodes to lampooning Giuliani, so I suppose in spirit he shares some of Sharpton’s beliefs—they’re cut from the same size of cloth, after all—but his honesty about current living conditions in the city is refreshing, if surprising.

And yet Sharpton is shamelessly reveling in the tragic killing of Amadou Diallo, and devouring the plaudits of a cowed mainstream press. Not much of this is really about poor Diallo: He’s become a martyr, a blunt instrument to be used against the Mayor. The cynicism of all this is sickening. Are there no responsible black leaders suggesting that everyone wait and see what the facts are before the lynch mob forms? God forbid Sharpton’s obvious wish that New York endure a long, hot and riotous summer where echoes of Rodney King will be felt throughout the city.

Naturally, Jesse Jackson is sticking his beak into the fray. (I guess his request to meet with Slobodan Milosevic last week fell short.) Sharpton stopped in Chicago, at Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH headquarters, on Saturday, accompanied by Diallo’s parents, for the first rally of a national tour to stir up racial resentment. Jackson, who still has a reservoir of credibility with America’s minority groups despite his shameless shilling for Clinton, a man who purposely fanned racial fires during the ’98 elections, predicting that black churches would burn if certain Republicans were returned to office, mustered the energy to shout out a few soundbites for P.T.’s divisive rally. Jackson told the crowd, "It’s open season on blacks... At least when you are violated by a stranger or a neighbor… you can call the police. But when the policeman is the bearer of violence and empowered by the state with a badge and a gun, that’s terrorism."

Sharpton was pleased with the preacher/presidential healer’s comments: "It was a rainbow moment," he said.

I wish Jackson had decided to enter the Democratic primaries against Al Gore and Bill Bradley. Then you’d see him cozying up to Wall Street contributors and forced to defend his hypocritical behavior in the past four years by media that still love to hear him rhyme but has finally caught on to his snake-oil routine. Jackson is just a better version of Sharpton; both of them disgrace the memory of Martin Luther King Jr.

A March 29 piece by Times columnist Adam Nagourney contributed to the rehabilitation of this charlatan who should’ve been banished from public life after the Tawana Brawley hoax. Titled "Diallo Protest Buffs Image for Sharpton," Nagourney writes: "He has done what no Democratic candidate has accomplished since Mr. Giuliani, a Republican, came to power: He has assembled the remnants of the city’s once dominant liberal Democratic coalition and built upon that foundation. In this, he has enlisted some of his strongest critics, including former Mayor Edward I. Koch, as well as the older and more orderly generation of black leadership, like Mr. Dinkins and Representative Charles B. Rangel of Harlem."

Well, what a surprise, that Giuliani adversaries like Koch, Rangel, Kweisi Mfume or Dinkins would take any opportunity to bash the Mayor, even if it’s exploiting an horrendous mistake by four policemen. I’d like to see these black leaders, as well as Upper West Side intellectuals and moronic actors, join in a protest when a cop gets killed by a crack-addled junkie.

Nagourney did finally temper his valentine to Sharpton with this anecdote, tucked at the end of his article: "Still, he has achieved a political legitimacy that appears to have surprised even him. In a rare moment last week, when his car and cell phones lapsed briefly into silence, he took an exaggerated look at the list of calls he had taken that morning. ‘These are people that never wanted to talk to me,’ Mr. Sharpton said, fairly gloating as he glanced up."

New York City is not a police state, despite what some hysterical journalists are writing. Richard Goldstein, the aging hippie who’s still employed at the Village Voice—proving publisher David Schneiderman’s lack of interest in his weekly’s editorial content—conjured this remarkable conclusion to an April 6 piece titled "The R-Word": "In a more candid time, we might acknowledge the real reason for Rudy’s success. His singular achievement has been to preserve the power imbalance that denies the real vitality of New York. He made the trains run on time—and ‘the colored’ run for their lives."

Less hyperbolic was Maureen Dowd, in her March 28 Times column: "It is a moment for white, middle-class New Yorkers to acknowledge that those who are not white or well off are paying too high a price for the safer, shinier city that Mr. Giuliani has given us." Aside from the fact that Dowd lives in Washington, DC, and therefore is not part of "us," you’d think that stylish scribe might realize that not only whites have benefited from the reduction in crime. Yes, there might be more friskings by cops now, but there’s a lot less murder and assault. And that’s an improvement for every citizen of New York, and even tourists like Dowd.

Democrats here must be bored, what with lowered crime, an economic boom and streets that are safer than in decades. Giuliani’s success angers his opponents, who still can’t believe a Republican was elected mayor, especially in a city where the most influential media is liberal, where the natives are generally restless and wondering what the government is going to do for them today, from welfare checks to sweetheart union contracts to rent control to subsidized arts festivals. What else can explain Prof. Stanley Aronowitz’s insane impulse, in a Slate "Breakfast Table" exchange with Ellen Willis, to write last week: "Almost everyone despairs to tackle the root causes and, consequently, settles, sometimes with bad conscience, for ‘aggressive policing.’ That’s the connection between Kosovo and Diallo. Neither Milosevic nor Giuliani, whose resemblances are greater than their differences, nor Clinton and NATO believe that it is realistic to deal with issues of poverty and unemployment, racism and nationalism—whose affinities are deadly."

Say what? It’s a good thing for Aronowitz and Slate that Giuliani is a public figure, for this comparison to Milosevic is so absurd that a jury in a libel suit would take about two seconds to award the Mayor a bundle of money. Stanley, maybe I need a new eyeglasses prescription, but I don’t see New Yorkers fleeing for the borders of Connecticut and New Jersey, and I haven’t heard of mass genocide in Manhattan, whether it’s in Greenwich Village, Spanish Harlem or the Upper West Side. Has Giuliani engaged in "ethnic cleansing" in Harlem or the Bronx? What causes you to commit such atrocities in print?

And yet the madness continues. Amy Wilentz came up with this whopper for the Los Angeles Times on April 11: "Giuliani’s policies are reminiscent of the great sweeps Haiti’s François Duvalier used to initiate in Port-au-Prince, the capital. If a foreign delegation was coming, or a cruise ship, Papa Doc would round up all the beggars and cripples and bulldoze a slum or two, and throw half the people into his stinking jails and send the rest out to the country."

Black leaders?
The New York Observer, in an April 12 editorial, got it right: "Evidence indicates that the fusillade of bullets was a sign of inexperience and fatally flawed judgment, but not murder. But such distinctions are lost on the publicitymongers who have latched on to the Diallo case. It was ironic to see former Mayor David Dinkins protesting, when it was he who allowed the Crown Heights riots to rage unchecked... In the end, there are no winners here. The people lining up on either side of the case might want to admit that there are some inevitable tragedies in a city with 8 million people."

Finally, John O’Sullivan, writing in the April 19 National Review, sums up the misplaced hysteria neatly: "But the glue that holds all liberal critics together is the conviction that white America is fundamentally racist and has to be continually restrained from its punitive racist impulses. Hence the trends in media coverage and political rhetoric... White-on-black crimes must be highlighted to shame white America out of its racism; black-on-white crimes must be downplayed lest they encourage white America in its racism; and any broader social indicators—whether crime statistics or police tactics—must be judged by the test of whether they serve to encourage or restrain white racism."

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


04/09/99: John McCain’s Moment
04/07/99:The Media Flips: It’s No Longer "Just About Sex"
04/05/99: The Gore Republic Gets Dressed Up. So What?
03/29/99:Louder Than Bombs: Jetlag and English Manners
03/26/99: Hollywood’s Horror Show
03/24/99: Black Ops Mark Vietnam War, Class War & the POW/MIA Issue
03/19/99: The Wealthy Survivor
03/17/99: Clinton’s a Broken Man: The GOP’s Huge Opportunity
03/12/99: Like Father, Like Son: New Hampshire in Another Era
03/11/99: Who is Dorothy Rabinowitz?
03/10/99: It’s George W.’s to Lose
02/26/99: Springsteen Ain’t No Chopped Liver; Vanity Press Musings
03/05/99: This Must Be the New World: The Mainstream Is Left Behind
02/26/99: Hillary, Juanita & Rudy Kazootie; First Baker, then Rich and Soon Lewis
02/24/99: The New Yorker Takes the Local: Mister Hertzberg Strikes Out; A Search for the Clemens Upside
02/19/99: The Howell Raines Conspiracy
02/17/99: History Lessons: An Immigrant’s Advice
02/12/99:The Man Who Owns the World
02/10/99:The Impeachment Trial Splatters: Lindsey Graham Emerges a Hero
02/05/99: A Slight Stumble for Bush
01/29/99: Rich Is Back in the Tank
01/29/99: Not So Fast, Mr. & Mrs. Pundit
01/27/99:This Is Not America: Clinton’s Set to Walk and Party On, Suckers
01/25/99:Sniffles and High Fever: Kids Say the Darndest Things
01/20/99: Whole Lott(a) Waffling Goin' On
01/14/99: Senator Hillary Rodham in 2000: The First Step Back to the Oval Office
01/08/99: Drudge Is the Hero
01/06/99 : MUGGER & the Martians
12/30/98 : Last Licks of ’98: Some Heroes, Several Villains & Many Idiots
12/17/98 : Boy Mugger's obsession
12/11/98: Irving’s the King Wolf
12/09/98: What do Matt Drudge and Tom Hanks have in common?
11/26/98: Starr’s 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 Zabar’s: 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

©1999, Russ Smith