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Jewish World Review May 19, 1999/ 4 Sivan 5759


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Gore Pushes The Panic Button—Again

(JWR) ---- (
AL GORE HASN’T HAD a decent political week since mid-December, when he joined Bill Clinton on the White House lawn, after the latter’s impeachment in the House, and claimed that his boss will go down in history as one of the nation’s greatest presidents. You’d think that Gore, a supposedly educated and savvy man, might’ve kept his trap shut: No one, save perhaps Sidney Blumenthal, would make such a ludicrous statement. Since then, although he’s collected buckets of campaign contributions and endorsements, petrifying potential primary opponents like Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Bob Kerrey, it’s all been downhill.

There are the polls, which his advisers keep telling him are meaningless, that show him being clobbered—particularly among women, Clinton’s strength—by George W. Bush and even Elizabeth Dole. As Maureen Dowd wrote in a devastating column on May 16: “Embarrassingly, [Gore] is losing the women’s vote to [Bush], the same vote that Saturday Night Bill [a phrase Dowd filched from Dick Morris, by the way] kept solid despite sexual harassment charges, despite an affair with an intern, despite humiliating his wife, despite a rape accusation. Mr. Gore, ever the faithful husband, ever the champion of diversity, shows up with posies and chocolates and women voters slam the door in this face.”

The Beltway media’s become infatuated by his lone challenger, the equally soporific Bill Bradley, speculating that the country is simply tired of the present scandal-plagued administration.

Two weeks ago Gore’s wife Tipper revealed that she suffered from depression after their son was seriously injured in a car accident back in 1989. She didn’t reveal in a May 7 USA Today article what drugs she took or the exact nature of her treatment, but told The Wall Street Journal’s in-house liberal Al Hunt that “I finally reached the point I was comfortable talking about this openly.” Okay. I guess it’s just coincidence that this “point” arrived just as her husband is tanking in the polls. That doesn’t bother Hunt. He wrote on May 13, reacting to cynicism within political circles: “But so what? She’s hardly the first political figure, businessman or athlete to try to seek the most advantageous avenue for a sensitive story.”

Danny Hellman
I think the New York Post’s Andrea Peyser was closer to the truth in her column of May 8: “In time for Election 2000, Tipper Gore has adopted her pet disease... But the way Tipper describes her victorious tango with her demons is a bit too calculated and way too neat. She won’t spill her symptoms, other than to admit she gained weight, which we already knew... But if she really wants to milk depression—to make it work for her the way playing the courageous victim of adultery worked for Hillary—she’s got a lot of work to do.”

But last week was certainly the low point of Gore’s campaign, at least so far. For starters, he tapped former California Rep. Tony Coelho as the chief strategist in his election effort. Coelho, of course, resigned from Congress after accusations of financial improprieties, although no charges were ever brought against him. Still, Coelho’s an odd choice for a man who’s neck-deep in accusations of campaign finance violations of his own.

Stranger still is the fact that Coelho was recruited by Clinton in the summer of ’94 to oversee the Democratic Party’s battle against the GOP in that fall’s congressional elections. According to The New York Times’ Richard Berke in a May 11 article, “Less than two months before the election, Mr. Coelho told USA Today that 1994 would be ‘a normal, off-year election’ and not as devastating as many Democrats feared.” Obviously, prescience isn’t Coelho’s long suit: The GOP won the House for the first time in 40 years and caused an abrupt change of policy, more conservative, at the Clinton White House.

To make matters worse, Clinton called Berke at the Times last Thursday night to acknowledge that while Gore’s been stumbling he “still expected [him] to win his party’s nomination in 2000.” Now that’s an enthusiastic endorsement! Clinton told Berke: “It is true that I have urged him to go out there and enjoy this. I have told him to go out and have a good time. I want people to know him the way I know him. I want people to see him the way I see him.” According to Saturday’s Washington Post, Gore, who was traveling in North Carolina, had no idea that Clinton would share his concern with the Times.

The Post’s Ceci Connolly wrote: “‘People today are not in a good mood,’ said one Gore loyalist, describing the vice president as angry. ‘He was furious,’ said a Gore political adviser. A congressional Democrat, after speaking to a Gore adviser, described the story and stir it caused as a ‘disaster.’”

Part of the problem is that Clinton, who’d be doing Gore a favor if he simply played golf for the remainder of his term, can’t reconcile the fact that ’96 was his last campaign. He’s best on the hustings, pressing flesh, remembering the names of obscure assemblymen and lapping up the attention from the dwindling few in this country who still want to suck up to him. Kosovo? Too much of a headache. China? That was on Bush’s watch. Naah, let’s get out and eat some chicken-fried steaks and win this thing for Al!

The Boston Globe’s pair of blithering idiots, columnists David Nyhan and Thomas Oliphant, are trying to help Gore, but their opinions are so myopic and goofy that the Vice President would be better off if they went on sabbatical for the next year. Nyhan, on May 16, had a splendid suggestion for Gore: Why not skip all the suspense and just announce that he’s chosen former Sen. George Mitchell as his running mate? I really have no clue as to whether Nyhan is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, but on the off chance he isn’t, you’d think he’d remember that elder statesman Lloyd Bentsen didn’t help Michael Dukakis a bit in 1988.

As I’ve written before, if Gore wanted to shake things up, he’d select Maryland’s Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for his ticket; she’s an earnest legislator who’d be sure to narrow the gender gap. Not to mention grabbing what’s left of the Kennedy magic.

But Oliphant is simply naive. Read the following paragraph, from his May 16 piece, and tell me the Globe pundit isn’t on a high dose of happy pills: “The idea of complete continuity in policy is everything to Clinton and Gore. The hand Gore is fated to play with is a strong one, certainly better than what George Bush was playing with at this point in 1987 and a far cry from the mess Richard Nixon wrestled with in 1959. At the margins it is probably made a bit stronger by the fact that there’s no denying Gore’s role at the apex of decision making in the Clinton government.”

I’ve seen Oliphant on C-SPAN and he appears to be the most pleasant man in Washington, so my recommendation for an immediate lobotomy is made without malice. Does Oliphant really think that Gore being “at the apex of decision making” in Clinton’s disastrous and criminal administration is a positive for his campaign?

There was one piece of good news, albeit slight, for Gore last week: Some of the press is tiring of Bradley’s Adlai Stevenson shtick. The strongest article was written by The National Review’s Jay Nordlinger for the May 31 issue. Nordlinger’s tired of Bradley’s sanctimonious sermons on race, claiming that the former basketball player thinks he has a monopoly on mixing with black people. He writes: “In Bradley’s mind, it often seems, drinking fountains are still separate, little girls in pretty dresses are being blown up in churches, and Bull Connor’s dogs continue to bark... At his best, [Bradley] is tolerable—even thoughtful. But at his worst, he succumbs to a vision of himself as the lone white knight in an odious and venal land. And when he gets into that mode, there’s no chance of reasoning with him: The rest of you honkies might as well be wearing sheets.”

Dissent In the Midwest

Some NYPress readers complain about the letters to the editor that come from conservative readers across the country, who read my column via the Jewish World Review website, which is linked on Matt Drudge’s page. By and large, unlike many Manhattanites, people in the heartland aren’t offended by my anti-Clinton rhetoric or libertarian political views.

Last week, however, when I attacked Jerry Falwell’s absurd campaign against Anheuser-Busch for its advertisement showing two men holding hands, the tide turned.

One correspondent wrote: “I usually enjoy your writing, and I get the impression you are conservative... I’m perplexed why you are disturbed about Falwell’s attack on Anheuser-Busch. Most people I know are opposed to the homosexual lifestyle. If God says it’s an abomination who is a man to argue?”

And then this: “I see how you got your nickname MUGGER. You like to mug every religious leader in sight and all things religious... or is it just all things Christian. God will not be mocked.”

This last fellow did write later to apologize for his hasty letter, saying it was just a “conservative knee-jerk reaction” on his part.

Still. I’d like to clear up a few matters. Falwell is a buffoon. As is anyone who believes that homosexuals don’t deserve the same civil rights as heterosexuals. And to up the ante to my readers outside New York City: I’m pro-choice (with the exception of late-term abortions), pro-immigration and opposed to a return to the mythical 50s culture that Pat Buchanan, Gary Bauer, Dan Quayle and William Bennett seem to believe is possible.

I don’t believe in censorship, and all the blather from politicians about clamping down on the entertainment industry for violent and sexually explicit films and television shows, while they accept campaign contributions from actors, studio chiefs and political imbeciles like David Geffen, is the most vile current example of hypocrisy.

I’m an economic conservative who believes that the less government interferes with the lives of American citizens, the better. I’m against affirmative action and excessive gun control laws. I’m against punitive business regulations that liberals love to lash entrepreneurs and corporations with. I’m in favor of capital punishment. Finally, I’m against liars who reside in the White House.

Pataki & Giuliani: Outfoxing Them All

This is a minority view, but I believe that both Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani will emerge as political winners in their latest “feud.” At issue is the imminent abolition of the commuter tax, a decades-long windfall for New York City at the expense of suburban residents who work in the city and are taxed without representation.

After desperately trying to raise his national profile in a vain attempt to launch either a presidential, or more likely vice presidential, bid, and getting nowhere, Pataki has returned to Albany and made the first positive decision since his reelection last year. In a bizarre coupling, Pataki has as his ally Sheldon Silver, the Democratic assembly speaker from New York City. A tax cut of any kind, as Pataki knows, is smart economically and politically. The city, which has a reported surplus of $2 billion, can withstand the $210 million or so, depending on what figure you believe, that will be returned to suburbanites.

Giuliani, for his part, gets his police troubles off the front page and the opportunity to use his soapbox as a fierce defender of New York City’s interests, upcoming Senate race be damned. In a joint press conference with Democrat City Council Speaker Peter Vallone on Thursday, Giuliani thundered: “Until I leave this job, whenever that is, I will always be clear on the fact that first and foremost, you’re the mayor of New York City, and you’ve got to fight for what you believe are in the best interests of the city. People always want a reduction in their taxes, so maybe it will hurt me politically, but the message I’m trying to send is, ‘Don’t mess around with the city.’”

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Pataki and Giuliani colluded on this script. In the Senate race, no matter who his Democratic opponent is, the Mayor has to attract a sizable minority of city voters; strong rhetoric such as he issued on Friday only bolsters his image as a tough-guy pol who won’t let Albany boss him around. On the other hand, it also proves to his upstate and suburban base that he’s a fighter who will bring home the pork for New York once he gets elected to the U.S. Senate.

The Post, in a quirky editorial last Thursday, came out against the tax cut. “If it becomes law,” the writer said, “New York City will survive. And ordinary New Yorkers, who already expect nothing in the way of leadership and intellectual integrity from Albany, won’t be surprised or disappointed by this cheap trick, either. But they deserve much better.” Excuse me? Didn’t the Post help Pataki get elected twice to the governorship? And since when is this paper against tax cuts? Seems to me that John Podhoretz is too rattled by goofballs questioning his military record to see the true value in this responsible legislation.

The New York Times, predictably, is also against the tax’s repeal. The paper blasted both Pataki and Silver, editorializing on May 17: “Mr. Silver argues that the city has a fat surplus and can afford the loss. This shortsighted view does not recognize that the surplus is probably temporary while the loss of commuter revenue would undoubtedly be permanent... It is time to end the games. A very large city could get hurt.”

Yes, the city’s surplus might be temporary. And you can bet, Times wisdom notwithstanding, that the commuter tax would be reinstated in a flash, especially if a Democratic governor is in Albany, when the city’s in a pinch.

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


05/14/99: Watch Out: There’s Someone’s Behind You
05/12/99: Memory? What’s That You Asked?
05/07/99: There Will Always Be a Washington, DC
05/05/99: Colorado Exploitation: Why Can’t CNN Just Go Home?
04/30/99: John John: I’ll Moonlight, Too
04/28/99: T.J. Walker’s The Man!: A Former Clinton Disciple Repents
04/23/99: Baseball and Politics
04/21/99: Sharpton’s Nostalgia Trip Is a Bust: The Backlash Is Immediate
04/16/99: Notes From A Baltimore Hick: Pressing My Nose Against the Window
04/14/99: The Bush JugGoreNaut Continues; Send Sharpton to A Rwanda Fat Farm
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