Jewish World Review Jan. 17, 2002/ 4 Shevat 5762


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Who's trampling the little guy? -- I have no idea about the extent of political damage-if any-Bush will suffer in the coming year over the Enron meltdown, and it's imperative that his administration continue to break from Bill and Hillary Clinton's precedent of stonewalling and provide as much information as possible. Which means Dick Cheney ought to loosen his tie and immediately describe the context of his six meetings with Enron officials last spring.

But despite the exaggerated hype in the media-the invocations of Watergate, Teapot Dome, Whitewater, Iran-Contra, etc.-it seems doubtful Bush will be hurt, except by stoking Democratic demagogues (like millionaires and wine connoisseurs Bob Shrum and James Carville), who will insist this proves the President is for the fatcats and not the little guy.

The little guy who gets shafted by his or her on-the-take union leaders.

The little kid who's denied the opportunity for a decent education because Democrats are beholden to a bloated (and vote-rich) bureaucracy.

The little guy who's routinely ridiculed by the effete entertainment industry (which gives money almost exclusively to Democrats) even though he's the one who buys movie tickets, CDs and concert tickets.

The little guy who's the victim of reverse discrimination, whether it involves admission to college or employment.

Mike Allen, in last Friday's Washington Post, provided a typical media hypothesis. He wrote: "As midterm elections approach, the investigations might keep a long, intense focus on a topic that Democrats see as a key GOP weakness: the perception by many voters that the Bush administration gives special access and help to wealthy people and big corporations. The probes, likely to include televised congressional hearings, will provide a backdrop for the debates over cuts in federal programs that could follow the disappearance of the budget surplus-which Democrats blame at least partly on the huge tax cut that Bush championed. 'When you have George Bush, Enron, bankruptcy, Texas and campaign contributions all mixed together, it's a huge political problem for this administration,' said Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri. 'Attorney General [John D.] Ashcroft's decision [to recuse himself] shows just how spooked they are.'"

Allen doesn't tackle this uncomplicated thought: If Bush favored only wealthy Americans, how is it that in the 2000 election he swept the country's Southern states, which, unlike New York and California, aren't known for their propensity toward millionaires?


The Weekly Standard's Jan. 21 issue features an Allen parody, which in part reads: "California congressman Henry Waxman announced today that he has decided not to let the absence of any Bush administration wrong-doing stop him from going into a foaming at the mouth rage over the Enron Scandal. 'This scandal is too important and too much fun to call off simply because the Bush administration behaved correctly,' he added.

"At Waxman's signal the entire Washington scandal network, which lies dormant while waiting for such moments, was placed on full Defcon 5 status. Congressional investigations were announced. David Boies and Robert Bennett were called into action. New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth was unleashed... Political reporters, cast into the shadows by the war, were put into a state of full arousal-exuding enough musk-odored body fumes to kill germs within a 25-mile radius."

But I do know this about Bush: he's a decent man, unencumbered by a lust for historical legacy or movie starlets; a person born into an affluent, loving family who doesn't need to prove he's the Top Gun in every Cabinet meeting. The moral clarity that Bush has consistently demonstrated, even before Sept. 11, but certainly dramatically hardened by that day's events, is in stark contrast to Clinton, Al Gore and most of the White House press corps. Because he has a rigid vision of right and wrong he's branded a simpleton; because he speaks in a language that's familiar to most of the country, dropping g's from words for example, he's judged an intellectual failure. (Funny how Bob Dylan, who affected that very accent, even writing lyrics dropping those "g's," is considered an artistic genius by Bush-bashers in New York, Boston, DC, and Los Angeles.)

And because Bush doesn't merely use the Bible as a prop, he, too, is trashed as part of the American Taliban.

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

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© 2002, Russ Smith