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Jewish World Review July 26, 2000 / 23 Tamuz, 5760

Chris Matthews

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Consumer Reports

If Bush is an IPO,
Gore is a store -- BUSH VS. GORE is like a battle between between and the blue chips.

Here's how it works:

People see George W. Bush as more likeable than his rival, and more of a leader. They see Al Gore as a junior partner in the Clinton administration's strong economic record, as more experienced in national and world policy than Bush, as solid on abortion rights.

This clear division of assets will decide the election this Nov. 7.

Forget the poll numbers. Three weeks ago, Bush was ahead in the Gallup by 12 points. Today he's up by two. Two weeks from now, following his bounce from the Republican convention, he'll be flying high again.

These numbers mean almost nothing today. They will mean absolutely nothing come November.

What will matter is the strength of the two men's assets as candidates. Why? Because when voters get down to deciding this first presidential election of the century, they will pick the man with the best chance of protecting their assets. They always do.

They will look at which man, Bush or Gore, is the most solid bet to perform for them.

Bush has some obvious strengths. Unfortunately, most have to do with the promise, the notion of what he might be capable of doing down the road. In this respect, his candidacy — which came out of nowhere two years ago — resembles a high-flying stock like It's not about his past performance. It's about the niche he has created for future sales.

In marketing lingo, George W. Bush has "branded" himself as the young political entrepreneur from the American Southwest. He carries with him the spirit of the hotshot start-up, the IPO about to make a fortune for voters with the moxie to get aboard early.

For months, ever since his Dresden-style bombing of John McCain in South Carolina, Bush has worked at this self-branding. He's America's Sonny Boy, the kid with the sunshine smile, the ready handshake for black and white hands alike. Like Ike, Jack, Ronnie and Bill, he's radiated that same outdoorsy gleam that has always, whenever Americans have had the option, outshined the downtown firm of Dewey, Dukakis & Dole.

Bush owns another ready asset: He's got the look of a leader. As governor of a state, he carries the resume of the guy-in-charge down there in "don't-mess-with-Texas" country.

These are the qualities — likeability and leadership — that pollsters have ID'd as Bush's strengths. People like him because they like him. He's a leader for the undeniable reason that he's not been a follower, a vice president.

By contrast, Gore's strength is of a bricks-and-mortar kind.

The economy is the strongest in world history. When the Democrats took charge, the growth rate was zero. Now, that's the size of the deficit. Seven years ago, middle-class voters had worries. Now they have savings. During the Bush recession of the early '90s, they were angry that their kids, whose colleges cost them so much, didn't have jobs. In 2000, they are a little jealous of what their kids are doing.

Gore has two other assets, both money in the bank.

One is experience. He's been working alongside the likes of Robert Rubin and Robert Reich. He's got the keys to the factory that produced the balanced budget, the free trade, the growth, all those millions of 401(k)s out there.

Second, and men hate to hear this, he's got an issue of direct, personal importance to the largest interest group in the American electorate — women. Gore is pro-choice. Bush is not. Gore backs the constitutional right to an abortion. Bush doesn't.

So don't look at the polls. They're fickle. Assay the assets. Weigh Bush's so-far-successful branding against Gore's bricks-and-mortar. Ask yourself: Which little piggy has built his house with straw?

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.


07/24/00: Will being 'better' sink Hillary?
07/19/00: Pre-convention calm?
07/17/00: AlGore is executing a double dose of imitation 07/10/00: Mexicans elect a Bush Republican
07/10/00:Another kind of McCarthyism
07/06/00: How Bubba's teapots clang
07/03/00: AlGore's latest hazard
06/29/00: No echoes in this presidential choice
06/26/00: Death joins the debate
06/21/00: Jerry Brown tells AlGore how to 'wage' campaign
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