Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review August 2, 2000/29 Tamuz, 5760

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

When it gets hard not
to get a little giddy -- PHILADELPHIA | George W.'s work is cut out for him. He may not be overconfident, going up 14 points in the polls and watching the SS Hillary begin to take on water in New York, but a lot of the delegates here can only be described as, well, giddy.

Nervous, but giddy. They've waited eight years to see the end of the Clinton-Gore era, watching as the Arkansas mercury and his Tennessee stalking horse survived one mortal wound after another, and now that the end looks once more in sight, they're having a difficult time believing that it isn't too good to be true.

And it may be. The second-most repeated phrase in the coffee shops, the hotel lobbies, the restaurants and the endless succession of parties stretching from New Jersey almost to Wilmington is, "well, it's early, and the race will be close."

The most repeated remark, almost as if a mantra, is about "how good Dick Cheney looks."

Mr. Cheney is the chaser that most of the delegates here were looking for, confident of their man at the top of the ticket, but eager for the reassurance of a man not easily rattled in the face of enemy fire. The vicious Democratic attack on him circled the delegate wagons, even if it took a week or so for the party regulars in Washington to notice what the Democrats were trying to do to the ticket.

There's a great sigh of relief that history has not repeated itself, that the Democratic attack machine failed to make a Dan Quayle of Dick Cheney. Even James Carville, who is in town to do a little "oppo research," is wearing a long face instead of the usual blood on his bib.

There's a remarkable unanimity of opinion that the Republicans in Congress once more let down the side, by letting Dick Cheney twist slowly in the wind for several days with no attempt to help him. Dennis Hastert's explanation that well, everybody was packing his bags for Philadelphia, and there was no time to do anything about it, was the most blatant wimp-out since Michael Dukakis, asked in the debates what he would do if a rapist should come after his wife, replied that he would appoint a commission to study the causes of rape.

When someone approached Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, for a brief time a candidate for president himself (and for an even briefer time a certified Independent), at a baseball game on Sunday afternoon to ask why the Republicans in the Senate sent Mr. Cheney their best wishes instead of a few eager fists for the fight, turned away.

Tim Hutchinson, the senator from Arkansas, professed surprise when someone asked why Mr. Cheney got no help from the senators of his party. "Do you really think that happened?" he asked.

Others think George W. himself signaled that fisticuffs were not necessary, or even wanted, in Mr. Cheney's behalf. This is, after all, a compassionate convention, and the strategy here is to do nothing to upset the dichotomy (big words are fashionable this year) of mean, angry Democrats vs. nice, happy Republicans.

Republicans with a taste for ghost stories look no further backward than the last convention held in Philadelphia. That would have been in 1948, when not only the Republicans, but the Democrats and the Progressive Party, nominated Tom Dewey, Harry S. Truman, and Henry Wallace, respectively.

Tom Dewey, the crime-busting governor of New York, arrived in Philadelphia with no sure prospect of victory. He didn't know how many delegates he could count on, since in those days the delegates were the creatures of the party bosses. Harold Stassen was breathing down his neck.

In the event, the little man on the wedding cake won the nomination, and fortified by a poll that showed him 28 points in front of Harry Truman in late summer, went off to savor his prospects at his farm in upstate New York.

Harold Stassen, who made himself a figure of fun in later years, was anything but a figure of fun in the postwar years. He was thought by a lot of people to be the inevitable president. Last week, at 93 and living in a rest home in Minnesota, he recalled to JWR's Roger Simon that he flew up to warn Dewey of impending disaster.

The New York governor grew incensed at the impertinence. Polls were new, and though not nearly as reliable as today's polls, were thought to be magic. "I urged Dewey to get out and campaign and meet the issues head on. . . . Dewey coasted and lost. And all because the polls were so good."

There's no sign that George W. thinks the election is in the bag. But giddy often turns to contentment and then to complacency. The emphasis on compassion, as if conservatism is not forever under assault, scares some delegates. But it's not a week for anything but celebration.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers
07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself
07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?
07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?
07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit
07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink
07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season
07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results
07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate
06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!
06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve
06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman
06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat
06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation
06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'
06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch
06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak
05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper
05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks
05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes
05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example
05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans
05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales
05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man
05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat
05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary
04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood
04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks
04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go
04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno
04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)
04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts
03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table
03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day
03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult
03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology
03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain
03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden