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Jewish World Review / Sept. 4, 1998 /13 Elul, 5758

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas Clinton vs. Reagan and the struggle for power

TEN YEARS AFTER Ronald Reagan addressed students and faculty at Moscow State University, President Clinton spoke to a new generation of students at the same school.

What a difference!

Clinton lauded the power of government: "Governments need stable revenues to pay their tax bills, support salaries, pensions and health care. That requires decisive action to assure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.'' In a country where a lot of people are not receiving their "fair share'' of salaries, it's hard to see how they should be expected to cough up more taxes for a largely dysfunctional government.

Reagan spoke of a world in which "man creates his own destiny.'' And the key to a happy destiny, he said, is "freedom -- freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.'' In Reagan's mind, there was little role for government in this pursuit, except to get out of the way: "It's so hard for government planners, no matter how sophisticated, to ever substitute for millions of individuals working night and day to make their dreams come true. The fact is, bureaucracies are a problem around the world.''

Bill Clinton's address contained the familiar grievances of class warfare. He warned, as he has at home, about "special bailouts for a privileged few (which) come at the expense of the whole nation.'' More government, not less. More centralized power, not less. More taxes, not less. It sounded as if his real audience was the Congress, warning them not to think of tax cuts no matter how weak he may appear.

What a contrast to President Reagan, who praised democracy as "one of the most powerful political movements of our age .... Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put in this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.'' Reagan spoke of freedom stirring the air ``and the heart beat(ing) to the accelerated rhythm of hope, when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free.'' But that was then -- while Russia was still dominated by the Communist Party. Bill Clinton, like Boris Yeltsin, is simply trying to hold on to personal power that is rapidly slipping away.

Holding on to power is the major preoccupation of those who defend President Clinton. Off the clock, some of those who spin for Clinton on television tell me they never liked him and don't respect him. But they fear the loss of the White House to a conservative Republican who, with a Republican Congress, might select two or three conservative judges for the Supreme Court. They fear this could lead to a weakening or rejection of abortion rights, the shrinking of big government, reduction of taxes, school choice, a slowing of the "gay rights'' juggernaut and the relegation of "global warming'' to the category of junk science where it belongs.

Democrats made a Faustian bargain when they picked Bill Clinton. They knew that an unvarnished liberal like Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale could not win. So they settled for a "new Democrat,'' who tried giving them what they wanted but was thwarted by a Republican Congress and his own reckless and shameful personal life, which now jeopardizes his ability to lead on public issues or to speak with authority in Moscow or anywhere else.

A decade ago, Ronald Reagan told the Moscow students:

"Every once in a while, somebody has to get the bureaucracy by the neck and shake it loose and say `stop doing what you're doing.' '' Bill Clinton might have delivered such a message, but he didn't. His message was to spend more on the bureaucracy. Vice President Al Gore even suggested that Yeltsin raise taxes!

That's why, in 2000, a majority of Americans, if they are properly focused, will take liberalism by the neck and shake us loose from it. But don't look for the liberals to go quietly. Already this administration has promised a scorched-earth strategy, even smearing anyone in Congress or anywhere else who threatens their hold on bureaucratic power. Ronald Reagan's address is a reminder of when we had a president we could be proud of.


9/02/98: If only Bubba had been a Boy Scout
8/31/98: Liberal clergy and the Lewinsky affair
8/27/98: Combating the terrorists among us
8/25/98: The president as 'Chicken Little'
8/20/98: That was no apology
8/18/98: Big government's crab grab
8/14/98:Untruths, half-truths and anything but the truth
8/12/98: Lying under oath: past and present impeachable offenses
8/10/98: Endangered species
8/04/98: In search of an unstained president
7/31/98: The UK is ahead of US in one area...
7/28/98: Murder near and far
7/21/98: Telling the truth about
homosexual behavior
7/17/98: One Nation? Indivisible?
7/14/98: Who cares about killing when the 'good times' are rolling?
7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.