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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2000 /24 Kislev, 5761

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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Consumer Reports

Bad advice for the president-elect --
IT'S NOT THAT we haven't seen this before when Republicans have won the White House. Candidates for the losing Democrat side -- in this case Gore-Lieberman, but in previous elections, Mondale-Ferraro and Dukakis-Bentsen, -- say that the winning Republicans should abandon the issues on which they ran and adopt the positions of the people they defeated.

This "strategy'' is particularly urgent now, we are told, because of the closeness of the race which is made even less legitimate due to the Supreme Court, not the voters, casting the decisive vote for Bush.

On marginal tax rate reductions, The New York Times, which appeared at times to be reprinting the position papers of the Gore-Lieberman campaign, editorialized last week, "it is always hard for any candidate to abandon a centerpiece of his campaign, but in truth there's not that much support even among Republicans for the sweeping $1.3 trillion tax cut Mr. Bush proposed.'' Not true. During the presidential campaign, CBS News, along with other media organs, claimed that most Americans didn't want their taxes reduced. Now, a CBS News poll has discovered that 61 percent of us favor not only a tax cut, but a large tax cut.

An early sign that Bush is not "going wobbly'' on taxes is his pledge to Time Magazine he will follow through on his tax cut promise. Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and White House chief of staff-designate Andrew Card dittoed that on weekend television. Bush believes, rightly, that if there is an economic slowdown, tax cuts will help reinvigorate the economy. Besides, it's the people's money, not the government's money, Bush frequently told us during the campaign.

Bush's Democratic foes will try to undermine not only his tax cut proposal, but also his social policies. The Democrat line -- underscored by editorial writers and commentators who supported Gore-Lieberman -- is that Bush should invite liberal foxes into the conservative hen house. Did Democrats ever follow their own advice when they controlled the White House and Congress? One would be hard-pressed to name a single person in a decision-making position in recent Democrat administrations who favored a reduction in marginal tax rates, was pro-life at some stage of the baby's development, opposed at least some of the gay rights agenda, or rejected the race-baiting and "victimization'' positions of the civil rights establishment.

The liberal strategy is so transparent. When Democrats win the White House and/or control of Congress there is no talk of bipartisanship, inclusion, or power-sharing. Democrats understand that power is something to be used, not negotiated away.

In each election since 1994,when Republicans gained control of Congress for the first time in four decades, there has been a slippage in the GOP majority. That's because Republican "leaders'' have put a higher priority on being liked than they have in advancing traditional Republican principles. Now the Senate is tied 50-50. Assuming Democrats stick together and every Republican votes in favor of the Bush agenda (a major assumption because there are quite a few moderate and liberal Republican Senators), Vice President Dick Cheney will be able to break ties in the administration's favor. But this could be the Republicans' last opportunity for some time to advance their ideas. If Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in 2002 -- a distinct possibility -- and the White House in 2004, Republicans can look forward to the back-handed treatment they used to receive from Democrats when Democrats ran show.

Bush has the gift of friendliness. He is likable and he likes a lot of people who do not believe as he does. He should take advantage of this unique Republican moment and follow through on his convictions, explaining and demonstrating why his policies will work. He should regularly feature human examples who can show what lower taxes, cuts in regulation, self-control and making pro-life decisions in the midst of unplanned pregnancies have done for them and can do for others.

Moving the country away from the gimme and grievance philosophy of the Democratic left will take great skill. Bush can do this. He has a happy demeanor and a positive attitude. He can "reach out'' to the other side but he should remember that his arm is attached to him, not to them.

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