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Jewish World Review Jan. 5, 2000/ 25 Teves, 5760

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Bush/Ridge Trumps Gore/Townsend


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LET’S TALK politics, January-style. Read Christopher Caldwell’s cover story this issue for an insightful roundup; I don’t always agree with Chris, but he’s a far superior writer to 98 percent of his colleagues in rat-infested DC, and also had the wisdom not to give his soul to Tina Brown like Weekly Standard officemate Tucker Carlson did. Caldwell’s correct, I think, that we’re looking at Speaker Gephardt in 2001; that makes me sick, as it should the entire country. Along with Joe Hill-impostor David Bonior, the next majority leader, these throwbacks will pester President George W. Bush with an agenda, aided by good-time Charlie Rangel, that will read like a script from 1972. As in George McGovern’s platform.

However, I believe the Senate will remain under GOP control, and all this campaign finance reform nonsense will be forgotten, stored in the attic with Bradley and McCain posters. It’s a hoot that The New York Times still refers to McCain and Bradley as “insurgent” candidates, even though they’ve led New Hampshire polls for weeks now.

In the last week of ’99, the Times saw fit to front-page two Frank Bruni stories about Bush, both negative. The first, on Dec. 26, made light of the relationship between the Governor and his father. Bruni wrote about Bush’s reaction to the former president’s loss to Bill Clinton in ’92: “It provided a similarly revealing glimpse of Mr. Bush, underscoring his capacity for anger and especially competitiveness, so keen that he responded to his father’s loss by insisting on a different kind of victory and training for a marathon, the first and only one he ever ran.”

On Dec. 29, Bruni had another article, called “Bush Makes Adjustments as McCain Gains Ground,” writing that the Governor is in “deep trouble” for the New Hampshire primary. Message to The New York Times: Bush isn’t in deep trouble, no matter how much you’d like him to be. In fact, McCain has done so well with his bogus campaign (acting more and more like a Democrat, which makes Times publisher Artie Sulzberger come in his pants) that a narrow win there will give Bush bragging rights, a la Clinton that he’s the “Comeback Kid.” In another slur on Bush’s intelligence, Bruni writes about a Larry King appearance by Bush in which he talks about his formal education. “‘They ignored the fact that I went to Yale and Harvard,’ Mr. Bush said, neglecting to point out that his last name undoubtedly helped his admission to both places.”

Uh, okay. How about the Kennedy family, which considered Harvard a birthright? I guess Teddy Kennedy, who’s now considered by liberals to be one of the most important senators of the 20th century, wasn’t admitted because of his name. Harvard and Yale are famous for rich-guy affirmative action; if Bush’s admission is up for debate, what about Teddy and his relatives? In fact, what are Sen. Kennedy’s accomplishments, aside from living to a normal age, unlike his tragic brothers? Is there universal health care? No. Teddy Kennedy’s claim to fame, aside from his incredible hypocrisy of speaking out for the poor while treating them like servants, is his outrageous rhetoric against Robert Bork in 1987, denying a Supreme Court seat to a worthy judge, by telling lies.

Bork
In New York Times reporter Adam Clymer’s new book Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography, there’s a passage that’s three times as rich as an old-fashioned eclair. He writes: “[Kennedy] deserves recognition not just as the leading senator of his time, but as one of the greats in its history, wise in the workings of this singular institution, especially in its demand to be more than partisan to accomplish much... A son of privilege, he has always identified with the poor and the oppressed. The deaths and tragedies around him would have led others to withdraw. He never quits, but sails against the wind.”

I yield to no one in my admiration for the Kennedy clan’s ability to withstand tragedy, self-inflicted or not. But what would Teddy do if he didn’t remain in the Senate? Sell hotdogs at Fenway Park?

Anyway, I’d like to read a scenario that contradicts the following. Gore, using an arsenal of dirty tricks and outright fibs, will finish off Bradley sometime in March. (That’s assuming he doesn’t have a falling-out with Clinton over Hillary Rodham’s purported Senate race.) Bush has a stumble or two early on—perhaps in Iowa, if Steve Forbes bribes enough people to turn up at the caucuses—but then wraps up the nomination in early March. McCain is no longer a “maverick” or an “insurgent” but the media’s candidate; if he doesn’t take New Hampshire by more than five points, Bush will then have the momentum and McCain can forget about South Carolina.

On to the general election: Friends of mine who support Bush are concerned that the Governor will be outfoxed and outsleazed by Gore and his smart but going-straight-to-hell advisers like Robert Shrum. But do the Electoral College math and it doesn’t add up for the Veep. Bush takes Texas and Florida, the Plains states, most of the South (maybe even Tennessee and Arkansas) and forces Gore to spend time and money in California, unlike Bob Dole in ’96 and President Bush in ’92, who simply ceded that state to Clinton. Similarly, although he probably won’t prevail, Bush will make an effort in New York and other Northeast Democratic strongholds. By choosing Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Vietnam vet as his runningmate, Bush locks up Pennsylvania and probably Ohio and Michigan. Election over. There are still those who say a GOP candidate cannot pick a veep who’s pro-choice; that’s just silly since Bush is pro-life and a pick like Ridge makes him safer to women voters, who already prefer him to Gore.

It’s true that it will be highly unusual to throw out a party that’s presided over an extended economic boom. However, the extreme stench of the White House, the extraordinary number of Gore gaffes, and the mere fact that the GOP will have a candidate under 60 all point to a Bush victory.

What a Card

I STILL can’t find a liberal writer who has a sense of humor. I’m trying. A reader suggested Michael Kinsley, and I just reacted, “You nuts, baby?” After all, on Dec. 22, this was Kinsley’s idea of a joke: “Slate will be publishing erratically for the next couple of weeks. There seems to be some holiday going on.” That cracked me up, what about you?

ABC Cozies Up to Clinton and Gore

IT’S BAD enough that ABC News’ president David Westin has tossed conservative Bill Kristol off Sunday’s This Week, but his lying about the firing is galling. According to a Dec. 23 report by The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, “ABC insiders say Westin had no problem with Kristol but felt that the round table was too crowded with five people, making it hard for individual voices to be heard.” Westin also told Kurtz that his station “ha[s] an obligation to our viewers to make sure we present both sides of any issue.” It was also said no changes on the show were imminent.

Kristol
So, on Jan. 2, on tuning in This Week, whom do I spy in Kristol’s chair but Michael Oreskes of The New York Times! The very same Michael Oreskes who was a guest at the Clintons’ New Year’s Eve bash at the White House! Now that’s balance: along with Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Oreskes—four liberals to varying degrees—there’s George Will, the only conservative in the bunch. This Week is getting creamed by Meet the Press in the ratings, so much so that they changed their time slot in New York. I don’t need to see a dimwit like Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings, and certainly not the DC bureau chief of the Times, so, much as I enjoy Will’s commentary, I’ll skip the show and wait for Tim Russert instead.

President Clinton himself, who told Larry King he “grew up in the country, you know, out there with the folks,” isn’t at all pleased with Curious George, his former aide. He said: “I think he’s probably more comfortable being part of the professional critics of the Washington establishment, the media establishment... It’s a game, I know that. And so it’s hard for me to take it seriously.” In other words, Steph is a wimp. Hey, Clinton and MUGGER agree on something!


JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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