Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 21, 2000 / 18 Sivan, 5760

Chris Matthews

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
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Debbie Schlussel
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Jerry Brown tells AlGore how to 'wage' campaign -- AL GORE keeps trying on new clothes.

He went from blue to earth colors, from suits to polo shirts, from shoes to boots. He's tried out new personalities from alpha to beta. He's gone from barking at rival George W. Bush to unleashing a pack of surrogates to bark the same Gore serenade. His posse has disseminated enough anti-Bush "talking points" to fill the Manhattan phone book.

All this has reaped the vice president a fine, 8-point deficit in the polls. Each point of that deficit represents a different tried and discarded image. Ignorance is not to blame. The candidacy is flagging not because voters know too little of Al Gore but because they now know too many Al Gores.

Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who likes the 2000 Democratic candidate far more than he did the 1992 and 1996 nominee, has a solution. What Gore needs is a "defining thrust," a cause that separates him in a dramatic, important way from his Republican rival. He needs to stand for something there's no way Bush could support.

"You can't go around and say, 'It's all wonderful. I'm OK. You're OK. So let's get elected.' There has to be a defining difference. And the Democrats traditionally, since the time of Roosevelt and Truman, have been for the common man," he said.

Brown would like that "defining" cause to be a national commitment to a living income for all Americans.

"Today, people who work hard and play by the rules — even if they work 50 weeks out of the year — are below the poverty line. This is unacceptable in an America as prosperous as this with no deficit anymore," Brown said.

"Seventy percent of the workers of this country have had their real purchasing power decline. You've got the wife working, the husband working, the kid going out to work. You're borrowing, going into debt."

Brown thinks anyone who works a full work week ought to be able to provide for himself or herselfand stay above the poverty line.

"That's real family values." He has a powerful point. Consider the person who works in a restaurant job. He or she gets $6 an hour. Figure 40 hours. That adds up to $240 a week, $12,480 a year. Work 50 hours, and your gross before-taxes income rises to $15,600.

A full week of sweating customers, standing on your feet, doing the work and you end up — after the tax bite — with a poverty-level income.

"The Democrats have got to come front and center on the justice issue," Brown argued. "I think the Democrats' missing opportunity is to lay out a plausible agenda by which anybody who works full-time will not suffer the indignity of being below the poverty line."

To avoid this, Brown would like to see a package of policy adjustments — earned income tax credit, minimum wage, child-care tax credits — that raises the worker's income to a living level.

It's the principle that matters. Instead of trying to out-point the Republicans on issues where both generally agree, Brown believes Gore should champion a cause that no conservative Republican would touch: a public commitment to intervene in the labor market and a guarantee that everyone in this country who sells his or her labor gets back a living income in return.

Such a campaign pledge would carry a bonus, Brown contends. It would "excite that part of the electorate that is probably still on the sidelines." It will give a reason to vote this year to tens of millions who right now don't have one.

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


06/19/00: Squishy logic for soft money
06/15/00: Citizen Kane, 113 years later
06/12/00: Kennedy-Nixon redux?
06/07/00: Bush says 'I do' to reality
06/05/00: Clinton's odd silence on his achievements
06/02/00: Pelosi, a voice for human rights
05/30/00: Bubba's escape hatches
05/23/00: Who typifies leadership?
05/19/00: Bubba's legacy involves AIDS
05/16/00: Dubyah's outlook for 'playoffs' remains perilous
05/11/00: Giuliani's travels
05/09/00: A Yale degree, a Bob Jones education
05/03/00: Show of force!
05/01/00: Abortion polls don't reflect reality
04/28/00: Bill Russell and American racism
04/24/00: Vietnam 25 -- The good, bad and ugly
04/19/00: Nader's threat to Gore in California
04/17/00: Berkeley politician visits with Elian's father
04/14/00: Clinton and the Castro curse
04/11/00: Men who saved Eliαn from the sea
04/06/00: Caine should coach politicians
04/03/00: No. 2 spots: Woman-to-woman?
03/29/00: Gray for veep and Gore might coast to victory
03/27/00: The secret life of a CIA wife
03/22/00: 'We're suckers for underdogs'
03/20/00: Bush's California dream vs. reality
03/06/00: Scary Gore vs. hopeful Bush
03/06/00: McCain's appeal to 'Reagan Democrats'
03/01/00: John McCain fits a hero's profile
02/28/00: Grading the American presidents
02/25/00: Clinton remains No. 1 issue
02/23/00: Will Ross Perot aid POW McCain?
02/18/00: McCain faces fury of GOP establishment
02/17/00: Citizen Springer
02/14/00: McCainia and the frisky independents
02/07/00: A prime-time primary for California
02/02/00: Clinton's final campaign: Take the blame
01/31/00: Which GOPer is willing to pay for his positions?
01/27/00: John McCain's gay radar
01/25/00: This time, candidates get 'authenticity' check
01/18/00: AIDS dooms 1 in 4 in tiny Swaziland
01/13/00: Complacency might be the campaign key
01/10/00: A choice, not an echo
01/06/00: The role of a lifetime
01/03/00: Dangers in Gore's dirty war
12/30/99: Churchill's fighting words saved the century
12/28/99: Candidate Gore's separation anxiety
12/17/99: Catch 22: Leading candidates don't lead
12/17/99: New Democratic leader on the horizon
12/15/99: Is Hillary clueless?
12/08/99: Taking Buchananism to the streets
12/03/99: Why are we so obsessed with 'spin'?
12/01/99: Donald Trump, 'Sinatra of Steel'
11/29/99: Why AlGore will be our next president
11/23/99: After the fall
11/17/99: Our conveniently forgetful president
11/15/99: Next president: Male, WASP, self-selected
11/10/99: Backroom Bill
11/08/99: Please don't feed the 'pander bears'
11/03/99: Battle of the Bubba clones
11/01/99: Pat Buchanan, kamikaze candidate
10/27/99: The year of the woman... voter
10/25/99: The Curse of the Bubba
10/21/99: GOP gives Clinton his finest hour
10/18/99: Clinton's last hurrah
10/13/99: Rough seas for Capt. Ventura
10/11/99: Gore targets Bradley's strength
10/06/99: Bradley's got the right Rx
10/04/99: Buchanan, Churchill and Hitler
09/30/99: Who'll spin political gold in Golden State — Gore or Bradley?
09/27/99: Here's a millennial checklist for candidates
09/22/99: The biography battle
09/20/99: Buchanan's new book is a must-read
09/15/99: Don't rule out Beatty
09/13/99: The man with the sun on his face
09/08/99: W. vs. Jr. on dope and the draft
The FALN: Hillary's Willie Horton
08/26/99: Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race
08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

© 2000, NEA