Jewish World Review December 26, 2002/ 21 Teves 5763


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Consumer Reports

Ditch Bill Clinton... | I've had a remarkable run of successful political bets in the past two months, winning enough small change to completely wipe out my 2002 heart-over-mind wager that the Boston Red Sox would win the World Series. Obviously, despite a dormant offseason so far from new Bosox GM Theo Epstein-the acquisition of Jeremy Giambi, now that'll slay the Curse of the Bambino-I'll play the sucker once again next spring, with the usual sharpies taking advantage of my light-headed faith that the Sox will eventually reign as baseball's champs.

There was the booty from picking Bob Ehrlich over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the Maryland governor's race (although a certain Baltimore Sun columnist has yet to pay up). A last-minute prediction that the GOP would win back the Senate yielded another hundred bucks. Al Gore's withdrawal from the 2004 presidential race helped jam my mailbox with checks. Finally, my hunch that Bill Frist would replace Trent Lott as majority leader paid for a couple of PlayStation 2 games for Junior that'll be under the Christmas tree, Joe Lieberman's disapproval notwithstanding.

In the interest of spreading the wealth, here's a tip for recreational gamblers that'll pay off about a year from now. The Democratic nomination will be won by the first candidate who has the guts to repudiate Bill Clinton and his acolytes like Terry McAuliffe, Paul Begala and James Carville. Now that's what I'd call a supreme Sister Souljah moment!

Objectively, the independently wealthy John Kerry is in the best position to eschew the Clinton/McAuliffe fundraising machine in favor of principle, but a stiff patrician like the junior Senator from Massachusetts, who's uncomfortable drinking a beer from a bottle at a local bullroast, probably won't seize the opportunity. Of the candidates in play right now-Wisconsin's Russell Feingold, who apparently isn't running, is the Democrats' best chance against President Bush-my greenbacks are on Dick Gephardt, the underestimated former minority leader who's never been under Clinton's spell.

Clinton is a national embarrassment, a bored and bitter politician whose weekly routine is a mixture of lucrative (and usually incoherent) speeches around the world, socializing with celebrities and criticizing Bush with an unprecedented zeal, demolishing the tradition of an ex-president keeping mum, at least for several years, about his successor. Even Jimmy Carter, who disgracefully accepted a Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to him only as a rebuke to Bush, looks graceful in comparison.

The Arkansan's latest tirade was lapped up by CNN on Dec. 19, as he inserted (no pun intended) himself into the Lott fiasco. Clinton said: "How do they [the Republican Party] think they got a majority in the South anyway? I think what they are really upset about is that [Lott] made public their strategy.

"They try to suppress black voting, they ran on the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina, and from top to bottom the Republicans supported it." When a CNN reporter asked the man who pardoned Marc Rich if Lott should walk the plank, he responded: "That's up to them, but I think they can't do it with a straight face...


"He just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the back roads every day."

Clinton, still reeling from his ineffective campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates in November, has willfully distorted the facts. In Georgia, for example, the issue of the Confederate flag was minor. The defeat of incumbent Democrat Roy Barnes by Sonny Perdue, was one of the biggest shocks of the midterm elections; had Perdue's promise of a referendum on the flag resonated so highly, it would've shown up in polls, which showed Barnes winning by a landslide.

As Mark Levin, among others, pointed out in a Dec. 20 National Review Online post, Clinton's record on race isn't pristine. For example, in 1985, as governor, the First Black President signed a law making "the birthdates of Martin Luther King Jr... [and Confederate general] Robert E. Lee... state holidays on the same day." In addition, while Clinton was governor, Arkansas law decreed that "The Saturday immediately preceding Easter Sunday of each year is designated as 'Confederate Flag Day' in this state." Levin notes: "Clinton took no steps during his twelve years as governor to repeal this law. And we know why, don't we? He didn't want to offend certain of his constituents."


Hillary Clinton echoed her husband's words just a few days later, telling Fox News, "I mean, what [Lott] did was state publicly what many of them have stated privately over many years in the back roads and back streets of the South." She then bashed Bush for his South Carolina primary campaign against John McCain in 2000-an ugly contest on both sides-in which leaflets were distributed highlighting McCain's adoption of a black baby, a smear tactic the Bush camp disavowed. The dirty tricks of losing candidates are quickly forgotten, but it's worth recalling that McCain wasn't pure in his media-driven bid to defeat Bush. In the Michigan primary, for example, his supporters called voters, saying that the Texas governor was anti-Catholic. In addition, McCain, speaking on the Straight Talk Express, referred to the "gooks" in Vietnam. The Senator's captivity during the war inoculated him from the slur, but had the media not been so besotted by McCain, it would've been more than a one-day story and Asian-Americans would've been justifiably outraged.

Sen. Clinton, like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has now publicly announced that Democrats will race-bait every Republican they possibly can in the coming two years. It's a losing strategy, but expect Frist to be the first castigated for imagined racial sins.

On Saturday, the Daily News' Zev Chafets wrote a withering critique of Bill Clinton. He said: "Clinton speaks with a certain authority. He is the Man from Hope, former governor of Arkansas, a son of the South.

"On the other hand, he now lives in Chappaqua, Westchester County, where, according to the 2000 census, the African-American population is .03%...

"Clinton's adopted town is not unique. The ex-President may not know this, but the anti-segregationist North-even here in New York-is dotted with lily-white towns, schools and neighborhoods.

"And clearly, not all the lilies are Republicans...

"The Democrats, meanwhile, have integrated in the Northern way-blacks can join the party if they stay in their own precincts. Representatives, yes; senators, no. Black governors? Find one and ask. Try Carl McCall...

"Don't misunderstand me. I'm not making excuses for [Lott]. I hope they ride him out of Washington on a rail...

"In fact, I hate Jim Crow just as much as the next white man who just happens to live in a virtually all-white neighborhood. Bill Clinton and I are on the same page there. And the same block."

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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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