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Jewish World Review Oct. 15, 1999/5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760


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Why Not Just Call
Him Mr. Trump?

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WITH THE REFORM PARTY in such tatters now, you wonder what all the hullabaloo was just a few weeks ago when Pat Buchanan started contemplating competing for their presidential nomination. All sorts of stupid things have been said in the past week—the media can’t get enough of it all—and I have to feel sorry for the serious members of the party. First there’s Donald Trump, who received unconscionable airtime last week even though he’s a joke candidate. As the Daily News’ Dave Saltonstall pointed out on Oct. 10, it’s no coincidence that Trump has put off making a decision on the presidency until January, the same month his next book, The America We Deserve, hits bookstores.

Still, Larry King played patsy to Trump on Oct. 7, giving him an hour-long commercial to brag, speak of his impeccable taste in women, tout his business acumen and pledge not to rename the White House in his honor. But the most interesting comment Trump, who’ll support George Bush on Election Day, made was about Bill Bradley: “Bradley’s not great. I know Bradley very well from New Jersey. I think I’m the largest employer in the state of New Jersey, and I know Senator Bradley. And, you know, he was going to be thrown out of office. This guy was not going to be reelected. And then he made the statement that I’m not going to run, and the Senate is a terrible place, and everybody in the Senate is terrible. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to run. The guy was going to lose. He was going to lose badly.”

On CNN’s Inside Politics the same day, the Village Voice’s Wayne Barrett, ignoring the loon Lenora Fulani’s embrace of Buchanan, Trump, Ventura, Daffy Duck or anyone else who vies for the Reform Party’s nomination, had this to say about the New York developer: “It’s a total contradiction for the Reform Party to even consider it [Trump] since his entire public life in New York has been one of compromising one politician after another. It flies in the face of any notion of reform politics... He gave to every politician, hired all the right brokers and fixers and every deal he’s ever done, every development project he’s ever done has always depended completely…—he’s a state capitalist—on his relationship with politicians.”

Daily News owner and fellow developer Mort Zuckerman added: “It’s just something that if you know him he’s a really fun-loving and engaging guy, but I don’t think he’s particularly well-informed on the issues at all. And I don’t think this has legs.”

The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, who’s almost as far out of the political loop as his colleague Richard Cohen and the Globe’s Thomas Oliphant and David Nyhan (not to mention Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Jonathan Alter, Time’s Karen Tumulty, James Carney and Margaret Carlson, etc.), finally caught on that Jesse Ventura is a fool who had an extraordinary run of luck last November. In an Oct. 4 column, Dionne addressed Ventura: “While you were making money wrestling, Mother Teresa was devoting her life to the poor of Calcutta. Maybe you think she would have been better off in the ring with Disco Inferno.” Good point, E.J. Too bad you’re so late to the party.

Last Thursday, The Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt, while correctly ridiculing the freakshow of the Reform Party, was shameless in a plug for his other line of work, as a pundit on CNN. He writes: “The Cable News Network, where my wife is an anchor and I do two programs, is the country’s most serious and credible television news operation. But when CNN permits Pat Buchanan or Jesse Jackson to moonlight away from their political activities it chips away at that lofty standing.”

“Lofty standing”? Says who? CNN is even more predictably partisan than the three competing networks. There’s a reason why the station is called the Clinton News Network. And then Hunt has the hubris to rip Hardball’s Chris Matthews for mistakes on his show.

The best article I’ve read on the Reform Party recently was by The Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash in the magazine’s Oct. 18 issue. Instead of devoting space to the obvious—Ventura, Trump, Fulani, Buchanan, Perot—Labash spends time with Jack Gargan, the incoming chairman of the dysfunctional organization. Gargan, a Ventura ally, is a grizzled political creature who appears, unlike his prospective candidates, to take his job seriously.

At first he put off Labash, saying, “I’m up to my balls in work,” but then relented and wearily explained why he’s still willing to chair the party despite its current laughingstock status. Gargan is a hardliner on crime, according to Labash, and in a doomed bid against Lawton Chiles for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in ’94, “He advocated Singapore-style caning ‘of the young punks who are running amok’ and the export of Florida’s felons to Mexican prisons, and he promised that he’d kill all 342 of Florida’s death-row inmates on his first day in office.”

That makes a lot more sense to me than the self-serving malarkey of Trump and spoilsport rantings of Pat Buchanan. Labash concludes his piece saying that Gargan is a “man with a mission at once simple and Sisyphean. ‘I just want everybody to know,’ he says, ‘that the Reform party is not made of nuts.’”

Rotsa Ruck.

The Irish Need Not Be Coddled

BILL CLINTON truly is a remarkable politician. He can offend the entire nation, commit crimes, ruin the lives of innocent people and remain in office. He’s permitted ethnic slurs of almost any kind.

In a speech in Ottawa on Friday, Clinton said: “I spent an enormous amount of time trying to help the people in the land of my forbears [with his scrambled ancestry, just how does he know who his authentic forebears are?] in Northern Ireland get over 600 years of religious fights. And every time they make an agreement to do it, they’re like a couple of drunks walking out of the bar for the last time. When they get to the swinging door, they turn around and go back in and say ‘I just can’t quite get there.’”

Now, Clinton would never make a public joke about Jews or gays (what he says in private, who knows) but Irish-Americans are fair game because they’re white, Christian and not likely to cause a ruckus. And indeed, with a few exceptions, the slur went unnoticed. Jimmy Breslin, naturally, in his Newsday column last Sunday, was blistering in his contempt of Clinton. He said: “It is no surprise that Clinton called all the Irish drunks, particularly in front of a British Empire audience he wanted to please. That’s all he ever wants to do. Be loved. He doesn’t have a moment in him when he cares about anybody but himself... And here in New York, the one thing to look out for is this Hillary rushing forward to take exception, deny, refute, scream, shriek, squall that she does not believe this at all, that the Irish are not drunks, that she separates from her husband on this. ‘See? You can vote for me and not my husband.’ You are then entitled to regard this as a cheap, grubby stunt from the very start. Oh, yes, these people are capable of anything.”

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

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©1999, Russ Smith