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Jewish World Review /Feb. 18, 1999 / 2 Adar, 5759

Tony Snow

Tony Snow Wake up, Republicans!

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) LEFTISTS SINCE LENIN have understood that no war ends until polemicists declare a victor.

Amazingly, though, right-wingers still don't get it. Twice in recent years, Republicans have won major political contests, only to see them redefined as ignominious defeats. We're on the verge of Rewrite Number Three.

First: Willie Horton. Early in 1988, Sen. Al Gore and then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo began railing about a Massachusetts convict named Willie Horton. After Horton was released from prison as part of a program championed by eventual Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, he drove to Maryland, raped a stranger and tried to kill her husband.

Gore and Cuomo said this was bad. George Bush followed suit during the presidential campaign.

(Dukakis sealed his reputation for softness on crime when CNN's Bernard Shaw asked how he would respond if someone raped Mrs. Dukakis. He replied: Better public schools.)

Then, 22 days before the election, Jesse Jackson announced that the Horton controversy had nothing to do with crime, but was a blatant Republican attempt to play the race card. Thus inspired, scribes got to work immediately after the election, and by 1992, the political classes were demanding that Republicans not be so mean-spirited as to subject America to "another Willie Horton."

Next came Clarence Thomas. After rebuffing allegations -- also last-minute -- raised by Anita Hill, Thomas became an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. When he took the oath, more than 80 percent of the public believed that he, not Hill, was telling the truth about their past relationship. But liberal revisionists took out their word processors and bingo! The percentages quickly reversed themselves.

Now, Act III: Bill Clinton's impeachment. The left has plunged into the business of judging L'affaire Lewinsky. The standard view is that a prudish Republican Party, led by a prurient and rabid Kenneth Starr, decided to nose into an inappropriate, consensual relationship between Bill Clinton and a 22-year-old. The GOP spent millions in exposing salacious details and thus earned the wrath of a nation eager to let Bill Clinton pursue his destiny as a visionary/healer/nymphette-maniac.

Note the methods: The ritual use of such catch words as "prurient," "salacious," "partisan" and "consensual" colors arguments without acknowledging the facts. They also encourage absolute judgments: Democrats good; Republicans bad.

Pundits and politicos already have drafted the first line of tomorrow's history: "Republicans, unable to beat Bill Clinton at the ballot box, engaged in a concerted, partisan effort to undo two elections and spent $40 million on a journey that began in the Arkansas ooze and reached a climax in Clinton's vital bodily fluids."

It will be interesting to see how, or if, conservatives reply. They went limp after the 1988 election and 1991 Thomas hearings, and seem ready to follow suit now. While writers and intellectuals on the left are waving a bloody shirt, those on the right are waving a white flag.

This is astounding, since the depiction of Republicans as villains rests on two shaky claims: that the president and his nubile ward engaged in a consensual dalliance, and that the matter was of interest only to the two of them.

If the relationship was consensual, why did Monica behave more like a woman scared than a woman smitten? Why did she keep the semen-encrusted dress? Why did she tell others she feared for her life? And why did she inexplicably get the sack at the White House? Was this a classic case of punishing the paramour? And finally, does "consensual" mean OK? If so, did anybody seek Mrs. Clinton's approval or opinion?

On the "nobody's business" front, consider this: The president feared a foreign government had overheard his sick-puppy phone sex. Despite this, he continued panting into the mouthpiece, thus putting national security after his craving for a jolt of quivering transport.

Then he dispatched aides to lie. He misled his lawyer. He stood by quietly while Larry Flynt -- whose magazine once featured a cover illustration of a woman being lowered into a meat grinder -- and James Carville threatened wayward Republicans. He knew of threats to other women, including Kathleen Willey.

Call me quaint, but if the president is leading a ring that uses women as sex toys then cuffs them around to ensure their silence, I think that's a matter of concern.

Of course this affair was about sex. It also was about perjury, violation of public trust, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, national security and bipartisan moral cowardice. So how will we remember it, and what lessons will we learn? The left has developed a game plan. Has anybody on the right done the same?


02/16/99: Why we feel so good
02/11/99: What exactly does George W. stand for?
02/08/99: Run, GOPers, run?
02/04/99: The languid sigh of waves lapping ashore
02/01/99: Verbal vortex
01/28/99: To be a ‘sell-out’ or an unelectable pol --- that is the question
01/25/99: The apogee of a trend
01/21/99:What my 3-year-old taught me
01/17/99:Don't be fooled, folks
01/14/99: Must a pol be ‘baaaad’ in order to get elected?
01/12/99: Jumpin’ Jack (Kemp)
01/08/99 : Hot air in the Windy City

©1999, Creators Syndicate