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Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 2000/ 28 Tishrei, 5761


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Consumer Reports

No more Gore -- I'VE HELD OFF on the political ramifications of a Bush victory until this point, because it's essential that the Governor's vision for the country take precedence. However, not to be minimized is how important Al Gore's being defeated is for the project of restoring decency in American public life. It's true that because of a variety of factors-and Clinton deserves credit, too, for having the sense to cooperate and horse trade with the Republicans after their '94 takeover-the United States has enjoyed an unparalleled era of prosperity. That Microsoft has been legally harassed by Clinton's Justice Dept. shows the true nature of his administration, but we'll let that pass for now.

The defeat of Gore, who vigorously defended Clinton on the day of his impeachment, is crucial to healing the nation's psyche. The past eight years of Clintonian mendacity, contempt for the law, corruption, dishonesty and moral decay must be rejected. Had Gore resigned after Clinton admitted that he lied to the courts and the country, he'd now be leading the polls by 20 percentage points. That he squandered any integrity he may have possessed, in exchange for perceived political gain, shows not only that he's a scoundrel, but not a very astute one at that.

Barring a cataclysmic scandal, it's clear that Bush will be elected two weeks from now. Clinton knows that it's over; so does Gore's staff. As usual, the candidate himself, in this case Gore, is the last to realize the inevitable. There's a sadness to the final days of a loser's campaign, which is understandable given the hard work, the time away from families and the low wages that most of an organization's foot soldiers have to put up with. I don't think, however, that's the case with Gore's team. For example, when George McGovern lost to Richard Nixon in '72, his aides and volunteers could hold their heads high, knowing that they'd worked in the service of what was-at least in their minds-an honorable cause, and that they'd fought against a ruthless and criminal competitor. McGovern stood for something greater than himself; the same can't be said for Gore. And I'll bet that the vast majority of the Vice President's staff is as sick of him as is the rest of the country.

Democrats are now in a state of panic. In Monday's Washington Times, Stan Greenberg, Gore's pollster, told reporter Bill Sammon: "It's going to be a tough two weeks... There's no doubt that after the first debate, the lead we had going in...disappeared. And almost all of that movement was women, college and non-college, old and young... There's some evidence in our data, underneath, that we got their attention in the last debate. But the impressions of the first debate are still with them."

Greenberg must've winced seeing Gore hold a quixotic rally in Louisiana-which is all but settled in favor of Bush-last Saturday, when he could've spent precious time in Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Michigan or New Jersey, all states that Clinton swept in '96.


At the risk of harping on the imbecility of Gore spokesman Chris Lehane-in a few weeks, you'll probably never hear his name again-he continues to symbolize, along with campaign manager Donna Brazile, the incompetence of the Veep's campaign. After Brazile bragged to Sammon in that same Oct. 23 article, saying, "We can make up five or six points on the ground in the final weeks," Lehane chimed in. He said that Brazile's strategy would lead to an "unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort never seen in the history of presidential campaigning."

Another Gore mouthpiece, Kym Spell, commented in Monday's New York Times about Bush's gathering of 28 GOP governors in Austin on Oct. 22, part of his orchestrated, fully unified plan to barnstorm the battleground states in the next two weeks. Spell, as if in a controlled-substance fog, said: "It's a mystery why these governors would endorse Bush's plan to squander the surplus on a tax cut for the wealthy and neglect issues that affect people in their states. Why would they want Bush to do to America what he has done to Texas?"

Am I missing something here, or is Spell a 13-year-old intern who's one of the few Gore staffers who doesn't realize that their hunky love machine (loved that Rolling Stone crotch shot, Jann!) is despised by roughly half the country? One more civics lesson, sweet Kym: the governors campaigning for Bush are Republicans, the very same men and women who enlisted the Texan to run for president two years ago. And Gore thought he had problems with Bill Clinton poking his nose into the fray, in between show summits in the Mideast, rounds of golf, fundraising and stumping for his wife in New York. The big media buzz last week was the rift between Clinton and Gore that was outlined in a long article by The New York Times' Melinda Henneberger and Don Van Natta Jr. Clinton, according to the Times reporters-two professionals at the paper who aren't couriers for Gore-is hurt that his understudy has ignored him during the fall campaign, especially since his prowess as a politician is as legendary as his lack of an ethical compass.

But here's where Tipper comes in. As the Times duo writes: "Tipper Gore and Hillary Clinton were never particularly close, but after 'Tipper's people put out that she and the girls were appalled' by the Lewinsky matter, Mrs. Clinton never forgot it, a friend of the First Lady said." Gore insisted after the story broke that he was, as he said to great effect at the Democratic Convention, his "own man," and, besides, doesn't the President have a job to do? Apparently not. At a Hofstra University rally on Long Island for his wife last Sunday, Clinton refused to remain muzzled, shouting, "They're wrong. We're right. You've got to fight." Washington Post reporter Michael Grunwald wrote: "[T]he president repeatedly expressed concern that voters do not realize the coming election is a 'big deal' and frustration that Texas Gov. George Bush and other Republicans have 'clouded' the issues at stake. He warned that GOP victories in November would wreck the economy, bring back budget deficits, increase violent crime, boost interest rates, damage the environment, imperil abortion rights and even heighten partisanship in Washington."

Clinton is just one facet of the Destroy Bush Objective. There's The New York Times, which is in an absolute panic over the fact that the Governor is leading Gore with so little time left before Election Day. On Oct. 23, Richard Berke, in writing about the latest Times/CBS poll, suggested that Gore is gaining momentum, writing that "The more time that passed from the final debate, which was last Tuesday, the more people seemed to like Mr. Gore." Times polls are notoriously inaccurate-just ask Bob Dole-but that doesn't stop the newspaper from trying to create a groundswell for its preferred candidate. It's dishonest and irresponsible, but what else is new at the laughingstock of American journalism?

Finally, get ready for a torrent of smear tactics against Bush by Clinton's modern-day equivalent of the SDS/Weathermen. The President himself, as noted above, set the tone by claiming, with nothing to back up the allegation, that violent crime would go up in a Bush administration. Larry Flynt, on the Oct. 20 edition of CNN's Crossfire, told hosts Bob Novak and Bill Press that Bush was party to an abortion in the early 70s. He offered no corroborating evidence to back up this slur. And I'm sure the cocaine stories will resurface; they're probably circulating again even as I write.

Maybe some of this dirt will stick to Bush. I doubt it. No candidate for the presidency has been as fully investigated, often by a hostile media, as the Governor of Texas. Ugly times call for ugly tactics, as one Internet boob wrote two years ago, but if the Gore dirty-tricks unit is planning an October surprise this close to the election, it had better be a humdinger.

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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