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Jewish World Review Dec. 1, 2000/ 5 Kislev 5761


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Consumer Reports

Stop! In the Name of the Law! -- WHILE AL GORE'S FREEFALL into a cesspool of lifelong humiliation continues in the courts of Florida, the law offices of Washington, DC, and hundreds of backwater Democratic congressional offices around the country, not one journalist or politician has raised the question that would put this vile postelection campaign into perspective.

What would Bill Clinton do?

Instead, the elite media has bleated in unison that had the positions of the two presidential candidates been reversed, George W. Bush would've behaved in exactly the same crooked manner as Gore. These smug, two-bit journalists, who can't distinguish a huckster from a saint, can only shout the insufferable cliche, "politics ain't beanbag." Their contention is absurd. Unlike Gore, the Texas Governor is a decent man, a middle-aged realist whose life doesn't depend on achieving the White House. He understands that any contest must have a conclusion. Yes, he'd have fought on past Nov. 7; in an election so close he'd have been a fool not to. Bush wouldn't have sought the presidency if he didn't want to win; wouldn't have endured the invasion of privacy that's part of the quest; wouldn't have suffered the obscene media bias that every GOP candidate knows is part of the game.

In a rare moment of candor, Newsweek's Howard Fineman told radio blabbermouth Don Imus, when asked what the media would say about Bush if the shoe were on the other foot: "Are you kidding? That George Bush was a crybaby, that he was the spoiled son of a failed president. You know, you could just hear the personal attacks on Bush... [They'd] be just absolutely vicious."

But by now, Bush would've conceded. He's not a gifted orator, and probably hasn't read the collected works of Proust, but the former president's son has dignity.

That's a word that Gore can't even spell.

But back to Clinton. Given the set of circumstances that his understudy now faces, this generation's shrewdest politician would've bowed out days ago, biting his lower lip, shedding a few crocodile tears and spewing some blarney about putting the country's well-being before his own ambitions. All of which would be disingenuous, but the word processors would lap it up, and he'd emerge as the leader of the Democratic Party.

Clinton works on instinct. He would've realized by now that his political future could be destroyed by carrying on as Gore has these past three weeks. With an energized party machinery, along with a compliant punditocracy, he'd be poised to sweep the 2004 election. He'd also spend every day from now until the midterm elections in two years campaigning for congressional Democrats, earning the chits that could carry him to the White House.

Clinton is a liar, a moral coward, a criminal and the worst president of the past century. But he's not stupid.

Gore, for all his supposed brainpower, seems about as bright as Roger Clemens. But instead of remorselessly beaning opposing sluggers, Gore has cloaked himself in the mantle of democracy, unconvincingly explaining to a weary American public, especially the black portion of it, that its civil rights have been violated by Bush, James Baker, Katherine Harris and a cadre of high-priced lawyers.


There's still a slim chance that Gore will ultimately prevail-recent history will show that Democrats ruthlessly ruined the career of Robert Bork, an honorable man, and crucified Clarence Thomas, even while they allowed Clinton to remain in office after he soiled the presidency-but even if he does, his victory will be hollow. He'll rue every day of his term. A Republican Congress will rightfully make life so unbearable for this pitiful android that he'll wish he were back in Nashville, writing kooky books, smoking dope and listening to 60s rock 'n' roll tunes.

One thing is certain: If Bush is sworn in as the country's 43rd president, Gore's political career is over. Not only did the Vice President wage an undeniably awful campaign this fall, in a period of peacetime and economic prosperity, but he's vastly unpopular within his own party. The prevailing wisdom is that a Bush-Gore rematch is preordained for 2004. Not a chance.

Joe Lieberman, who's so completely disgraced himself since August-retracting long-held beliefs, expressing respect for Louis Farrakhan and acting like a failed stand-up comic who's been reduced to the dinner-club circuit-will never be nominated either. Democratic senators, seething at Lieberman's selfish decision to run concurrently for U.S. Senate and the vice presidency, will never support his candidacy. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Gray Davis and Patrick Kennedy (just teasing) all have a shot; Gore's and Lieberman's names won't even be mentioned at the Democratic Convention four years from now.

Also on the Tuesday Imus show, Hardball host Chris Matthews summarized the Vice President's problem in this way: "Al Gore's best friend hates him."

One huge mistake the Democratic bosses have made-though who among the Dems is in control right now, I'm not sure-is letting Gore speak to the public. Every time he stands before a lectern, surrounded by more American flags than a Memorial Day parade, the Vice President reminds viewers why they dislike him so intensely. Perhaps it's true, as many allege, that Gore in private is a witty, engaging man, but when he's before a phalanx of cameras, he comes across as arrogant, petty and condescending.

On Monday night, Gore said: "On that one day every four years, the poor as well as the rich, the weak as well as the strong, women and men alike, citizens of every race, creed and color, of whatever infirmity or political temper, all are equal. They're equal, that is, so long as all of their votes are counted. A vote is not just a piece of paper, a vote is a human voice, a statement of human principle, and we must not let those voices be silenced."

That statement was over the top, even for Gore. How he didn't start laughing in the middle of this five-minute exercise in hypocrisy is beyond me. Because what he was really saying was that the election was unfair because he didn't win, because not enough votes were manufactured for him after the polls closed. Guess what, Al? More than a million votes weren't "counted" all over the country. That's because citizens either didn't care to register a choice for president, but did want to vote for candidates in other races, or they were too inept to correctly execute their "statement of human principle."

The next day, Gore gave a rare press conference and compounded his problem. Asked about some polls (ABC/Washington Post included) indicating that a majority of Americans want him to concede, the Vice President became churlish. He said: "Well, I said during the election to many of you that I didn't think the polls mattered. And on Election Day, sure enough, contrary to the polls, Joe Lieberman and I carried the popular vote nationally by 300,000 votes. I'm quite sure the polls don't matter in this, because it's a legal question."

Yes, indeed. In Gore's United States of Litigation, everything is a "legal question." Sue until you win. It's the Democratic Party's core principle.


A few more words about the Gore cheerleaders in the media and Congress who willfully distort the truth. Florida's Rep. Peter Deutsch was on Hardball Tuesday night, slamming the "paid mob" that forced the Miami-Dade canvassing board to stop its recount. Never mind that David Leahy, a member of the board, told the Los Angeles Times that "I was not intimidated by that protest. I saw it for what it was." Never mind that Deutsch, pressed by Matthews to provide evidence that the "mob" was compensated, couldn't do so, causing the host to roll his eyes. And never mind, as John Fund has pointed out in The Wall Street Journal, that Miami-Dade, which voted by a slim 53-47 margin for Gore, isn't likely to yield the votes the Democrats insist will put them over the top.

Jonathan Alter, the Newsweek columnist who also provides partisan commentary for MSNBC, published a piece in the magazine's Dec. 4 issue that ought to get him fired. Writing about the U.S. Supreme Court justices who will hear motions on Friday, Alter used the phrase "The Supremes," a dumb lapse into frivolity that merely points out his lack of imagination. (Besides, I'll bet that when the real Supremes were knocking out hit after hit in the mid-60s, Alter was unaware of the group, listening to the Monkees and Cowsills instead.)

But what was worse was his repetition of the Democratic mantra that a "mob" caused a miscarriage of justice in Florida. He writes: "Instead of staying outside the county building, as required by law, the demonstrators stormed in, stoked by Cuban-American radio. The canvassing-board members can be excused for feeling intimidated; unlike the rest of us, they have to live with the explosive and abusive politics of Miami."

Please. This "mob," which Matthews likened to a crowd of reporters trying to ask a question at a presidential press conference, wasn't exactly like the Nazis taking over Poland. Alter, whose screen tag line when he appears on MSNBC ought to be "Jonathan Alter, Gore supporter," should be ashamed for such manipulation of the facts.

I think Michael Kelly, who has little respect for Bush, summed up this entire travesty in his Nov. 29 JWR column. He wrote: "There is one thing you can say about the Clinton-Gore crowd: With them, there is always some fresh hell and there never is a bottom. No one could have imagined that they could have topped their most spectacular first-first elected president to be impeached-or that they could have created a crisis that would wreak more destruction than that episode. But with these men of fathomless selfishness, there is always more damage to be done. There is always another institution, another principle, another person that must be destroyed-for the greater good of their greater power."

Finally, a word of advice to all the historians and media "experts" who predict Bush won't be able to accomplish anything because of his "tainted" victory. Nonsense. A recession is already under way-even though it won't be officially announced for a few months. Bush will inherit this problem and he'll have to act. And for all the talk about how he'll be forced to acquiesce to a Congress that's almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, don't believe it. Sure, there will be some Democratic window dressing in his cabinet; he'll appoint at least one member of the rival party. And he'll do some superficial backslapping in the White House with the likes of Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt. But when real issues are presented, Bush will preserve his conservative agenda. Which means, in the case of a recession, tax cuts.

Also, after this contemptuous display by the Democratic Party's trial-lawyer wing, expect tort reform from a Bush administration. And while Bill Clinton's having a jolly old time right now, observing Gore's self-inflicted and deserved anguish, his frame of mind might be different a few months from now. Specifically, when Bush's attorney general is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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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