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Jewish World Review Oct. 22, 1999/12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760


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Bubba Plays Trashball Politics

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LAST WEDNESDAY, Oct. 13, will be remembered in U.S. Senate history as the day Majority Leader Trent Lott grew a backbone. In refusing to cave in to Bill Clinton and Minority Leader Tom Daschle for a deal that would postpone the vote on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Lott finally mustered the courage to face down a president whose only concern is politics and his own personal legacy. Clinton, in an hysterical press conference the day after the treaty was defeated, a long session that The New York Times foolishly called a “forceful and focused performance,” resorted once again to calling the opposition “partisan” and browbeaten by hardline Republicans. Neither is true.

Perhaps the biggest and most transparent lie that Clinton foisted on the American public is that Republicans are now across-the-board isolationists; in this he’s shrewdly building on the controversy marginal candidate Pat Buchanan has stirred up in recent weeks with his strange writings about World War II. In fact, opponents of the treaty included not only Sen. John McCain—I wonder how his buddies in the media like him now—and Sen. Richard Lugar, whose globalism is well-known and respected in the Senate, but also six former defense secretaries, four former national security advisers and four former CIA directors (including two Clinton appointees). Henry Kissinger vs. Bill Clinton on foreign policy? I’ll take the former.

Rarely has there been such unanimity in the GOP, even though the Democrats will exploit this issue in the presidential and congressional elections next year. Al Gore, who wouldn’t dream of engaging in the “politics of personal destruction,” immediately filmed a campaign advertisement damning the GOP. In a speech last Thursday to the Democratic Leadership Council, the Vice President said: “There has never been a time in my memory that issues of war and peace, issues of nuclear security have been handled on a party-line vote in a partisan atmosphere with personal invective directed at the commander-in-chief.”

I guess Gore was rooting around for nuts and berries in the summer of ’98 when Clinton bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant in order to distract attention from his Monica Lewinsky problem.
Monica's new cause: animal rights.
Only makes sense, huh?
Maybe Gore was meeting with Tony Coelho when his boss commenced a short war against Iraq on the eve of his impeachment hearings. Gore’s political response and allegiance to Clinton should immediately disqualify him from the presidency. The man is almost as persistent a liar as Clinton.

As for Gore’s fealty to Clinton, he told The Washington Post last Friday that he’s not sure if he’ll solicit the President’s further help in his campaign. He said that it’s a “very personal quest... For me to be successful, I have to have a personal connection and line of communication with the American people.” Whatever that means.

There are isolationists in the GOP, just as there are in the Democratic Party (research the vote on President Bush’s Gulf War and you’d be surprised to find out how many rabid hawks were doves back then). This is all politics and let’s not pretend it’s anything else. Clinton said at his press conference: “[The Senate majority] is saying America does not need to lead either by effort or by example. They are saying we don’t need our friends or allies. They are betting our children’s future on the reckless proposition that we can go it alone, that at the height of our power and prosperity, we should bury our heads in the sand behind a wall.”

And just what exactly would passage of the CTBT mean? Do you think for one moment that rogue states will abide by it? A madman dictator, like Saddam Hussein today, one we haven’t heard of tomorrow, will be dissuaded from taking any course he likes by a piece of paper? “Uh-oh, I’d be violating the treaty if I develop nuclear warheads. Better scratch that plan.”

As George Will wrote in Newsweek’s Oct. 25 issue: “Clinton said that every year of delay in ratifying the treaty increases the probability that nuclear weapons will spread to regions with intense national rivalries and to ‘rogue leaders and perhaps even to terrorists.’ Think about that. The most high-stakes decisions of nations, and the most dangerous desires of the likes of Saddam Hussein, can be controlled by a U.S. decision never again to test nuclear weapons? Such delusional thinking carries national hubris to new heights.”

The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol and Robert Kagan, who wrote editorial after editorial that urged stronger action in Kosovo (so much for GOP “isolationists”), were effusive in their praise for Lott and the GOP senators in the Oct. 25 issue. The pair wrote: “Senate Republicans have blown the whistle on this charade, and they are to be congratulated and encouraged. This year it’s the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Maybe next year they can press the administration to submit its amended ABM Treaty to the Senate, so they can vote that down too. After that, a Republican president can take over, rebuild our defenses, make the case to the American people for serious global leadership, and work realistically for a more secure world.”

Much has already been written about New York Times political hack R.W. Apple’s astonishing lead sentence in his Oct. 14 article about the Senate vote, but it’s so indicative of how the paper that long ago was respected has gone wrong that I’ll repeat it one more time. “The Senate’s decisive rejection tonight of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was the most explicit American repudiation of a major international agreement in 80 years, and it further weakened the already shaky standing of the United States as a global moral leader.”

He then compares the CTBT to the Versailles Treaty, as if that legislation and the ailing president touting it, Woodrow Wilson, are in the same league as today’s soiled bill and the man allegedly behind it, Clinton. Wilson, at least, was passionate in his beliefs and died soon afterward; Clinton did virtually nothing to bargain with Trent Lott in the last several weeks. He was too busy playing golf. But when an opportunity arises to whip up the American people, to get on the podium and give a speech filled with lies and sanctimonious slogans, he’s like a junkie with a spike in his vein.

Meanwhile, other Times headlines: On Oct. 14, “Senate Kills Test Ban Treaty in Crushing Loss for Clinton”; Oct. 15, “The Senate’s Harmful Vote,” “Clinton Says ‘New Isolationism’ Imperils U.S. Security” and “Senate Vote: Partisanship Arrives in Foreign Affairs.” Hmm, didn’t know that matters of international significance were never “partisan.” As the Times’ home delivery tv advertisement says, the one with a grandmother holding the paper: The New York Times: every day a chance to learn something new.

As for Gore, the Times feels its readers are so slow to pick up on the fact that they’ve already endorsed his candidacy, that it’s now distorting headlines with increasing frequency. Latest example: The title of Bob Herbert’s Oct. 14 column is “Gore Has it Made.” Nowhere in the piece does Herbert come close to writing that. In fact, the gist of his article is that the Democratic nomination contest is going to be a long, drawn-out fight. For example: “There is a very dangerous divide developing for the Democrats as the primary season approaches. Al Gore has just about locked up the official support. He’s been endorsed by more than 100 members of Congress and by Democratic officeholders from coast to coast. He is the candidate of the Democratic establishment.

“But the voters are another matter. Mr. Gore is not connecting with the people. And time is running out... The danger for Mr. Gore is that if he does not find a way to begin connecting with voters, Mr. Bradley may change the whole dynamic of the race before Southern primaries come into play.”

Herbert ought to be mad about that misrepresentation of his column. But maybe the benefits of being one of Arthur Sulzberger Jr.’s lackeys have rewards that go beyond honest journalism.

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