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Jewish World Review Oct. 16, 1998 / 26 Tishrei, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Lightweight Boxer

CALIFORNIA VOTERS will have a clear choice in November between very different rival candidates for the United States Senate. Republican State Treasurer Matt Fong and incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer differ across the board on everything from education to missile defense.

It is a classic liberal (Boxer) versus conservative (Fong) match-up. Even their personal styles differ, the flashy and glib Boxer contrasting with the sober and thoughtful Fong.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words: Hillary and Boxer
The tight race for one of California's seats in the U.S. Senate is about more than differences on issues and style, however. Unfortunately, elections are also about the advantages of incumbency and political organization, as well as name recognition -- and, in all these respects, Barbara Boxer is clearly one-up.

Whatever Matt Fong's achievements as state treasurer, sound fiscal management will never get as much media attention as ringing rhetoric and well-staged events. However, the fact that the polls show a close race suggests that Barbara Boxer's shrill and shallow liberalism is rejected by enough people to make even a relatively unknown candidate without charisma a formidable challenger.

Among her many dubious distinctions, Senator Boxer has been named the "biggest spender in Congress" by the National Taxpayers' Union. It has been estimated that she has proposed over $300 in new government spending for every dollar of spending cuts she has recommended.

Senator Boxer voted for the 1993 tax increase and against the welfare reform legislation that has gotten large numbers of people off the dole and back to work. When it comes to crime, Barbara Boxer sticks by the old liberal formula -- crack down on law-abiding citizens who own guns.

Recent research at the University of Chicago has shown that armed citizens substantially reduce violent crime rates. But there is no inkling of that in Senator Boxer's campaign ads against "assault weapons" -- an emotional term with no real definition that goes beyond ugly-looking guns.

Matt Fong is for cracking down on criminals, instead of on law-abiding citizens who own guns. His approach to education is to make teachers meet higher standards and to base their pay on performance, rather than longevity. By contrast, Barbara Boxer's approach is to throw ever more money down the bottomless pit of our existing failing school system and echo the party line of the teachers' unions.

On military spending, Senator Boxer is against creating a missile-defense system, preferring instead to rely on treaties signed back in the days of the Soviet Union. She seems not to have noticed the growing number of other nations that now have missiles, quite aside from the questionable reliability of treaties. Matt Fong is for a missile defense system and for more military spending in general, in order to update our neglected armed forces.

Perhaps the crowning example of Senator Boxer's liberalism -- and hypocrisy -- were her denunciations of Clarence Thomas in 1991, because of Anita Hill's unsubstantiated charges against him, and her 1998 down-playing of Bill Clinton's DNA-proven sexual escapades with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office.

An intellectual lightweight who has sponsored no major legislation in all her years in both houses of Congress, Barbara Boxer is nevertheless a cunning political candidate and ruthless in her drive to stay in office. Her campaign ads are slick, her emotional rhetoric well-practiced and her vocabulary of buzz-words extensive.

Although Boxer has never enjoyed strong statewide voter support, she has still managed to get enough votes to squeak by. In her previous election campaign, she won with the help of an eleventh-hour smear of her opponent that there was not time enough for him to answer. Politics is her life and she means to hold onto political office at all costs.

One of the encouraging things about Matt Fong is that he has not been in politics all his life. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, he served on active duty in the Air Force for five years, later owned his own business and has also been a commercial pilot and then an attorney before becoming state treasurer in 1995.

In short, Matt Fong has had the kind of varied experience in the real world that too many politicians lack. He would be a refreshing and knowledgeable voice in Washington, where Barbara Boxer has misrepresented California for too long.

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10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.