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Jewish World Review Oct. 28, 1999/18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760


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Let’s blast abortion all over the front pages

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DESPITE THE FACT that Gov. Bush, like his father and Ronald Reagan before him, has not made his pro-life position (as well as no “litmus tests” for Supreme Court nominees) a key component of his campaign, listening to Democrats you’d think that every Republican was a back-alley doctor looking to make a sleazy buck off a poor girl’s misfortune.

Last Thursday, in a simple Senate vote that merely resolved that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin (once a pro-lifer) took the occasion to blast members of the other side. “It is now clear what the true agenda of the anti-choice members... really is. They want to criminalize choice.” I don’t really know what that’s apropos of, except to trot another Democrat out before cameras to make general statements that cloak the Republicans in Buchananism.

And also on Thursday, when the Senate passed a bill outlawing partial birth abortion (although it’s not veto-proof) by a margin of 63-34, California Sen. Barbara Boxer felt it necessary to chime in about the defeat. “Here we are in the Senate,” she said, “a hundred of us and not one of us an obstetrician, not one of us a gynecologist, deciding what procedures should or should not be used, and under what circumstances, in a matter that should be left to the medical profession, left to the families of this country, left to loving moms and dads.”

Last Wednesday, the day that Elizabeth Dole dropped out of the GOP presidential nomination contest, Clinton, echoing Buchanan’s complaint that the Republican fix is in, consoled Mrs. Dole by criticizing Gov. Bush. He said: “Governor Bush is the first candidate in the history of the modern era—when we’ve had federal financing—who’s given it up so that an unlimited amount of money could be raised. It’s something that some people urged on me four years ago because I could have done that, and I decided it wasn’t fair and I didn’t do it. I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”

Karen Hughes, Bush’s communications director, responded to Clinton: “We appreciate the President’s advice—but we don’t intend to use him as a model for how Gov. Bush will raise money or lead the nation.”

And Washington Times editor Wes Pruden had a fitting comeback last Friday in his column: “Well, [Clinton’s] ’96 fund raising certainly made life interesting for Johnny Chung, and for the upstairs maid who had to change all those sheets in the Lincoln Bedroom. And maybe for himself, too. He complained the other day to the White House physician that when he burps he still tastes Szechuan chicken.”

This campaign-finance reform scam is out of control. Lars-Erik Nelson, the Daily News columnist, whom I’ve sort of taken a liking to this year, despite our wide gulf in opinions, was back to his Richard Cohen self last Friday when he wrote about the pity of Liddy Dole’s exit from the race. Mind you, this is a woman whose husband was the GOP’s candidate in ’96, who raised a ton of money—soft, hard, squishy, edible, fungible—and had a rolodex at the ready. But the Republican Party wanted to move on.

Nelson quotes Mrs. Dole, “In the real America, it’s more important to raise issues than to raise campaign funds,” and then he continues: “But she is not in the real America; she was trapped by the corrupt new American process in which money wields political power.”

Now, let me get something straight. Gov. George Bush wants to become the country’s next president, as do Al Gore, Bill Bradley, John McCain and a few other people. What is Bush supposed to do: not raise money, to satisfy media critics? And why is Gore always excluded when the subject of big money corrupting this year’s campaigning is discussed? Gore, if not for Bush, would be setting records this year for campaign contributions, and it ain’t all from Jefferson Smith Cub Scouts, a nickel at a time. Nelson concludes: “We say goodbye not only to Elizabeth Dole, but to a big piece of our democracy. Bigwigs trump voters in presidential contests.”

Lars: Did Americans say goodbye to “a big piece of democracy” when Joe Kennedy made deals with the mob in order to ensure John Kennedy’s victory in 1960? How clean was LBJ’s dough?

Dole’s departure is good news for Bush: most of her traditional GOP support will go to him, giving the Governor time to reassure cultural conservatives. Meanwhile, McCain, who’s already admitting that he’s part of the campaign finance corruption this year that he supposedly detests, will continue to suck up to The New York Times and The New Republic.

However, the beginning of this week finally brought the backlash to the media-supported McCain race. In Monday’s Times, Richard Berke, describing how McCain might not even win the presidential primary in his home state of Arizona—Gov. Jane Hull has endorsed Bush—quotes the influential Republican governor of Michigan, John Engler: “John [McCain] is a very good one-man performance. It’s not as clear how effective he is as part of a team.”

And though Hull described her endorsement of Bush as not “anti-McCain” but “pro-Bush,” it’s clear the two most famous Arizona politicians don’t get along. Speaking of McCain’s famous temper, which he’s kept in check for the benefit of the White House press corps, Hull told Berke, “We all have our faults, and it’s something that John has to keep control of.”

In the Nov. 1 editions of both Time and Newsweek, it’s reported that McCain doesn’t always practice what he preaches when it comes to raising money. Time goes easier on the Senator, eliciting this reaction after it was pointed out that executives like AOL’s Steve Case and George Vradenburg have been present at, or hosted, fundraisers for the “maverick” legislator. McCain says: “I know there is an appearance problem. But I have never pressured a lobbyist to contribute.” Time’s reporters add: “[McCain] also says the donations are too small to be corrupting—$1,000 from individuals and $5,000 from political-action committees.”

However, Michael Isikoff reported in Newsweek that McCain, in the last election, received more money from the communications industry—$562,000—than anyone else in the Senate. And earlier this year, contrary to what McCain told the reporters at Time, after a favor from McCain, Colorado satellite-television billionaire Charlie Ergen “threw a fund-raiser for McCain’s presidential campaign at his Denver home. Estimated take: $47,000.”

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