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Jewish World Review March 3, 2000/ 26 Adar I, 5760


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Gore plays funky music, white man -- I'LL CREDIT THE REPTILIAN Al Gore with one thing: extraordinary luck. Perhaps it was the result of prayer, for the Vice President has suddenly become a devout Christian during this campaign, but just six months ago, who would've thought that Gore would hold such a commanding lead over the lethargic Bill Bradley? Gore got all the bad press and gaffes out of the way before the primaries actually began; in addition, he never could've expected the McCain phenomenon to black out coverage of his quest for the Democratic nomination. Which suits him just fine.

Lost in the Bush-McCain 15-rounder was the Democratic debate at the Apollo Theater on Feb. 21. It was a strange spectacle, starting with the woefully inarticulate Spike Lee, a Bradley booster, being interviewed before the debate and unable to say anything of substance in favor of the former senator.

Read the following exchange between Bradley and Gore, after a question from Time's Karen Tumulty and you tell me who the condescending creep is.

Tumulty: Senator Bradley: Clearly, in delving 10 and sometimes 20 years back into the Vice President's record, you are trying to raise questions of his leadership and questions of his character. If you feel the need to raise those questions, don't you feel you have the responsibility to tell us what you think the answer is?

Bradley: I have told you what the answer is. And it's to nominate me as the Democratic nominee of this party. That's what I told you. You know, me calling attention to the fact that [Gore] was a conservative Democrat before he was Bill Clinton's vice president is simply truth-telling... It's not embroidering the facts. And laying out much bolder proposals on health care and on education than the Vice President does is not embroidering anything. It's proposing a new future. As an example in this campaign, he proposes increasing defense expenditures more than he proposes increasing education expenditures.

Gore: That's not true either. Not true. That's not true either. Let me respond to this. You know, we've had basically the same-length career in Congress. And over the course of that time I'm proud that I have a better COPE voting record measured by the support of working men and women and organized labor than Senator Bradley. I compiled that better record in a state in the South where it was not always that easy, compared to New Jersey.

I am the one who has been endorsed by the leading pro-choice group. I have been endorsed by organized labor. I have been endorsed by Senator Ted Kennedy and by virtually the entire Congressional Black Caucus. Now, do you think that they all have such poor judgment, Senator Bradley?

Bradley: What I think is they don't know your record as a conservative Democrat. They don't know that you voted five times over three years for tax exemption for schools that discriminate on the basis of race. It's in the record. The Black Caucus stated so.

Gore: You know what? In my experience, the Black Caucus is pretty savvy, they know a lot more than you think they know. You know, the Congressional Black Caucus is not out there being led around. They know what the score is and they also know that their brothers and sisters in New Jersey said you were never for them walking the walk, just talking the talk.

Amazing. Gore really does like black people. And some of them are smart. Blacks support Gore because he walks the walk. I have no idea why the black community is lining up behind this buffoon; the condescension in the above remarks is simply revolting. It should've been the lead story in every daily across the country. "Gore: Blacks Can Be Savvy."

Bradley is stumped at his lack of black support, but is typically, and probably fatally, philosophical. He told Boston Globe reporter Bob Hohler over the weekend in Seattle: "It's disappointing because I think everybody should be able to see the depth of my convictions. But that's not always the way it works in life. Those things you hold most dear are not always recognized in the context of the times in which you live, and it's very difficult."

I was surprised-almost shattered-when I read that Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown had actually endorsed Gore. Brown, as I've written before, is one of the true political visionaries of the last half-century. I don't agree with much of his philosophy, but he's not an automaton. He's an original thinker who isn't afraid of advocating unique ideas. When he praised Gore as man who "cares about those who are falling between the cracks" and has a "philosophy of equality, a philosophy of economic justice," I nearly wept. Brown is the man who first exposed Bill Clinton as a corrupt hypocrite back in the campaign of 1992; he's the politician who slept on friends' couches while on the stump instead of in pricey hotels. That he can now embrace Gore, who was complicit in the White House's illegal fundraising in '96, who is a creature of Washington and everything he fought against in '92, is truly disheartening.

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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