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Jewish World Review June 28 2000/ 25 Sivan, 5760


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Consumer Reports

AlGore's in trouble? Naw, just remember Dukakis -- THERE WAS A lot of curious hocus-pocus-dominocus in the presidential race last week, proving once again that the Ivy League-educated reporters who claim this is a snoozy election year either don't know what they're talking about or are still in McCain-denial. Probably both.

Much as I enjoyed the sight of Al Gore squirming about the prospect of an independent investigator to probe what were certainly his lies in the '96 campaign finance scandal, I'm with The New York Times on this one: skip the hearings and just let the voters decide. Gore's newsletter editorialized on June 25: "Because of her brazen dereliction of duty as attorney general, Janet Reno has now stirred up a political mess for herself and Vice President Al Gore and created an electoral quandary for the public." The New Republic's Marty Peretz has nothing on the Times when it comes to desperate cheerleading.

Obviously, Reno made a huge mistake by ignoring the advice of Charles La Bella and Louis Freeh a few years ago, when Gore should've been strip-searched about his Buddhist temple adventures, but the country's beyond that now. As if the Veep didn't know what the purpose of the '96 White House coffees were. That's why, despite the prosperous economy and absence of war, Al's in for a tough fight against George W. Bush: Americans are plain sick and tired of the scandals, lies, obfuscation, hypocrisy and perfidy of the Clinton-Gore administration.

The Beltway media's doing all it can to prop up Gore-just wait for those debates!-but there's a reason that Bush is leading nationally in every single poll. (Newsweek's latest survey shows the closest contest, 42-40 percent in favor of Bush over Gore-that's with Buchanan and Nader, too-but I think it's just a glitch. Look at the state-by-state data, via the nonpartisan poll, and you'll find that Bush is even in Connecticut and close in California. That's disastrous news for the Democrats.) The Los Angeles Times, in reporting on June 16 their own poll showing a 10-point lead nationwide for the Governor, chose this headline: "Bush Leads, but Abortion Issue Could Mean Trouble."

Gore just can't tell the truth. He's a flip-flopper who hasn't an iota of his boss' political skill. Clinton, despite his low moral standing in the country, would find a way to defeat Bush, although not as handily as he did the hapless Bob Dole. As Paul Gigot pointed out in the June 23 Wall Street Journal, Gore partisans point to Michael Dukakis' lead over Vice President Bush in the summer of '88, after holding which he was soundly defeated by the Republican that November. But this election is not a rerun of 12 years ago, as I've written for more than a year now.


Dukakis frittered away his misleading advantage in the polls, attending to his duties as governor of Massachusetts, thinking a smart photo-op was of him mowing his own lawn, an image that was almost as ridiculous as the one of him popping up in an Army tank. (By comparison, Gov. Bush appears with GOP icons like Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger; that's one reason why he's sewn up the Republican base, while Gore still hasn't even convinced Big Labor that he's worthy of their vote.) Also, Dukakis was still battling Jesse Jackson, even after he'd won the nomination.

Who can forget the sham Reverend meeting with the Governor and complaining about the food he was served? After snubbing the New England clam chowder, Jackson went out for some fried takeout. And while Bush might not be a forensics champion like his opponent, Mr. Love Story/Love Canal/Tobacco Farmer, he'd never make the mistake Dukakis did when asked by the liberal CNN shill Bernard Shaw what his gut reaction would be if his wife were brutalized by a criminal. Dukakis meandered into a wonky discussion of the law; Bush would say, like most Americans, "I'd want to cut his heart out, Bernie."

Getting back to Jackson, was there a more sickening spectacle in recent memory, aside from the raid to snatch Elian Gonzalez, than the millionaire con-man comforting convicted killer Gary Graham in Texas until he was pronounced dead? Jackson said he "wept uncontrollably" and that Graham's execution was a "state-organized murder," acting as if it were the Pope who was put down for his crimes. This capital punishment debate is a media-driven frenzy, one more sign that the liberals in Washington are very nervous that Bush might actually be elected.

I attempt to take things at face value, at least at first, but it strikes me as somewhat odd that Illinois' Gov. George Ryan, a Republican who's in some ethical trouble right now, all of a sudden put a moratorium on executions in his state. Maybe he had a conversation with God, but you can't discount the idea of Terry Lenzner or another White House thug waving a pardon in front of his nose if he'd open up the capital punishment can of worms, knowing that the focus of attention would go straight to Bush's Texas.

But maybe I'm all wet. That's the result of seven years of Clinton. He's been like a second-degree sunburn or a flashback acid trip: anything's possible; you just don't know what's real and what is not.

WE ARE THE champions, my friends. At least that's the way it appeared two Fridays ago, June 16. Suckers!

Taking a weeklong vacation to Miami in the middle of June seemed like a queer idea to almost everyone of my family's acquaintance, and the prescient Mrs. M thought it a little daft herself, but it was very logical to the kids and me. My wife likes the ocean and swimming; I'm partial to urban retreats; and the boys will go anywhere that has a pool, 89 tv stations, junk food and a flight that's less than seven hours. Besides, Miami's the only city I could live in other than New York in this country: it's relatively cosmopolitan, has the extreme heat and humidity that I crave, and the Latin American scent that permeates the culture is infinitely more fascinating than anything Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles has to offer.

And hey, this time around, we went the au courant route, staying at Ian Schrager's art deco Delano Hotel in South Beach, the favored lodging of the idle rich, celebrities, models; its staff must have to pass a beauty test before being hired. Luck was not on our side upon arrival. The penthouse we'd booked wasn't cleaned yet, so the luggage went into storage after the boys changed into their trunks, and we trooped out to the gleaming pool area to kill 90 minutes. No sooner had Junior and MUGGER III jumped into the water, and Mrs. M and I ordered drinks, than a monsoon descended upon the resort, sending everyone with their Speedos and frozen drinks under the bamboo shelter of the bar. My glen plaid suit-just one way that we stuck out in the crowd-got soaked, as did my slippers, and it was a full 15 minutes before the rain subsided to a drizzle and we returned to the chaise lounges.

We spent another hour outside, too long for the boys, whose milk-white skin got burned, and then moved into our spacious suite with its all-white decor, which reminded you of a ritzy beach house, except that it was on the 15th floor and offered a terrace view of the Atlantic. The Delano's signature green apples popped up on silver pedestals everywhere you looked.

Then the trouble started.

MUGGER III was sick as a dog. He'd had the sniffles to begin with, and the combination of sun, excitement and some crummy Continental Airlines food laid him low with a high fever and the shivers. A swell Delano bellboy rushed to a nearby pharmacy for Motrin and a thermometer, and we put the tyke in a lukewarm bath and then wrapped him in a bathrobe while he watched Small Soldiers on tv. Shortly after, the hot water vanished. It wasn't till the middle of the night that he had a long barfing session. Our five-year-old was miserable, but at least a few fart jokes cheered him up. He slept with his mom and dad, and then woke up at an early hour even for him, and said he was fit. It wasn't to be.

I'll return to attack mode below, but in the meantime a few observations. The Delano, absent the distasteful clientele, is a rather interesting hotel. The idiosyncrasies are what make it worth a peek: the dark lobby, punctuated by Philippe Starck-designed furniture; the elevators illuminated by red or green lights; a billiards table near the outside restaurant; a rooftop spa; a David Barton gym; 1500 available videos; flat-screen televisions; and room service food that is actually edible, especially the Cobb and Ni=E7oise salads and the spiced onion rings. It's all rather pretentious, but I chalked it up as an experience-we always choose blue-chip hotels, so this was a switch.

How's this for weird? As a rule, when you buy a local paper in a hotel, in this case The Miami Herald, you pay the cover rate. Not at the Delano, which added 19 cents to the charge. The magazine selection, which Fodor's laughably warned "you wouldn't want your parents to see," is not huge, just garbage like Ocean Drive, Wallpaper, Talk, Spin, Paper, Rolling Stone, Us Weekly, plus a disproportionate number of foreign publications, most of which I'll bet are never purchased. The Economist is for sale, but not Time, and they were out of Newsweek. You tell me that isn't nutso. It was a pleasure to have the New York Post stacked up by 8 each morning, and out by the pool it seemed everyone was reading The New York Times rather than the Herald.

In fact, on Saturday morning, while the boys were swimming with a new friend from Washington, DC-a Bush supporter, by the way-I read a curious headline in the Times that gave me a slight shiver: "Putin Discovers A New Rapport With Germany." I'm hardly an alarmist, and I understand the Times' bias better than most readers, but the second paragraph of the front-page story was creepy. It read: "[T]here was no mistake that the summit meeting that ended today [with Putin and Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroder] produced a vigorous rapprochement between Russia and Germany. Mr. Putin seemed entirely serious when he added, 'Germany is Russia's leading partner in Europe and the world.'" Putin's a scaly guy to begin with; add the historical aggression of Germany's leaders, stilled at least militarily for more than half a century, and that leads to a combustible combination down the road. All the more reason that George W. Bush's missile defense system makes a lot of sense.


It must've been the humidity that day, but I found myself actually agreeing with most of Frank Rich's op-ed column about liberal and conservative hysterics. He's right: All these calls for censorship and boycotts on both extremes of the political spectrum are noisome and indicative of a populace with too much free time. So while I think that Bruce Springsteen's "American Skin" is a naive and offensive song, I don't give a hoot if it hits number one on the pop charts; similarly, let Dr. Laura Schlessinger, with her obnoxious 19th-century views on homosexuality, get full airing on television, and hope her show flops. Same with John Rocker, Eminem, Charlton Heston, Bob Barr, Tim Robbins, Al Sharpton, James Dobson, Hillary Clinton and Rich himself. Let freedom ring!

Anthony Lewis, on the other hand, is a man out of time. It's just a hunch, but I imagine Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has told the butlers who work for him: "Make sure nothing happens to Tony while my father is still alive." I concede it's the duty of that newspaper's brain trust to distort Bush's record while performing the Herculean task of promoting Al Gore as a sensible choice for president, but Lewis can't find his way out of the cobwebs when he writes about the Texas Governor. On June 17, in aping the anti-Bush gambit of the month-capital punishment-Lewis once again raises the spurious question of Bush's intellect, wondering about his "depth and seriousness," and calling him "shallow and callous."

Must I repeat this drill? Okay, just for you, Tony: While Bush might not possess the intellectual gifts of, say, David Dinkins or Patrick Kennedy, two Democrats you admire, it takes more than a dumbo to defeat an incumbent governor in Texas, especially the dirty and streetwise Ann Richards, as Bush did in '94. And once again, on the subject of executions, we never hear in the liberal media about how many death row inmates met their maker on Richards' watch. The number is 45, by far the most in the country at that time. In fact, during the absurd vigil for Gary Graham last week, the name of Ricky Ray Rector, the retarded man Bill Clinton ordered executed during his '92 campaign-to prove what a tough hoss he was-was barely mentioned.

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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© 2000, Russ Smith