Jewish World Review March 7, 2001 / 12 Adar, 5761
The presidential election still hurts, the initial public acceptance of President Bush and his income tax cut is like a hundred paper cuts and the scandals surrounding the Clintons and Jesse Jackson rate over the top on the frustration chart. These are treacherous times for liberals, but a snap-back is in motion.
The first salvo was fired by Jackson who called anyone questioning his dubious accounting methods "a right-wing extremist." That of course includes me. I have been looking into Jackson's tax-exempt Citizenship Education Fund. The fund's tax returns from 1998 and 1999 show that about $12 million dollars in donations rolled in, but just $47,000 was spent directly on education.
Hello, IRS, anybody home?
Ironically, I just got finished being pilloried by some genuine right-wingers because I criticized President Bush for failing to be concerned by Bill Clinton's pardon activities. Mr. Bush has told everybody he wants to "move on." But hold it, where is the "reformer with results" that we were promised? We can't "move on" from an inexplicable series of pardons by President Clinton when big money was swirling around. To quote another famous Bush, "that wouldn't be prudent."
I have to admit however that the right is nowhere near as vitriolic as the left when it comes to attacking a forlorn and misunderstood journalist. The best the right could muster was stuff like, "Hey, O'Reilly, why don't you rent a house in the Hamptons with the rest of your liberal buddies." The right needs to sign up Don Rickles fast.
But the left, well, these guys are pros, and they are teed off at me for batting the Clintons and Jesse Jackson around. One article called me a phony for writing about my modest upbringing in my book. The author, well known left-guy Michael Kinsley and a man I have never met, flat out disputed my humble beginnings.
Funny, but I didn't notice Mr. Kinsley on that Greyhound Bus my family took to Florida on vacation. Maybe he was riding up front.
It looks to me like the left is implementing a "search and destroy" strategy until the next right-wing blunder. Since Alan Greenspan said the tax cut was good and President Bush's agenda speech polled great, liberals have little ideological ammunition left. But they still have plenty of hatchets. And believe me they are going to use them on anyone they perceive as a threat to the idea of big government and "progressive" social programs.
As nasty as that is, it will not work because karma is in motion. The Clintons are getting paid back for all the not-so-nice stuff they've done over the past 20 years -- and there is a ton of it. Jesse Jackson is getting it simply because he is playing by a different set of rules than the rest of us. And eventually he is going to have to explain those rules.
America is an interesting place these days. Fifty percent of eligible voters didn't show up in November, and that group must be very proud. Once every four years we are asked to elect the most powerful man in the world, but, hey, it was raining for cryin' out loud. Don't think it is lost on those who peddle propaganda that half of the adult population cares more about NFL football than who's running the country.
And then there are the 15 percent of Americans who are so far to the right that even Barry Goldwater would be frightened, and the 15 percent who veer so dramatically to the left that Barney Frank can't catch them. You will never be able to reason with most of these folks because the tourniquet of ideology has cut off blood flow to the brain.
That leaves 20 percent of Americans in the zone of reason and responsibility. That is the group that listens, considers and then makes judgment. These people are the backbone of our country, and it is scary to think their number may be thinning.
I hope you are one of the independent thinkers who value information and fairness. We need you in this age of charlatans and propagandists. You are the ones who will protest dishonesty and demand accountability. The crooked politicians fear you and so do the hard core ideologues. But without you this is a country of opportunists and fanatics.
Hang in there,
02/27/01: The Letterman experience