Gore in '97?

By Steve Myers
web posted December 1996

The Republicans did not lose the presidential election last month. They lost it on the day of the South Carolina Primary, when the party establishment overrode their voters' clearly expressed preferences and imposed on them the hapless Bob Dole and his arrogant, inept advisers, a decision from which the now leaderless party may not recover for some years. It strains credulity to think they ever imagined Mr. Dole could win the White House, especially given a campaign in which the talented were dismissed by the incompetent. It makes one wonder if there was a prior agreement to share power with the Democrats. We may never know, but the naughty voters had another of Peter Jennings' 'tantrums' leaving the balance between the White House and Congress virtually unchanged. This time, Mr. Jennings contented himself with wondering "how much of a problem the new Republican Congress will be". If the overpaid ABC "news" presenter seeks to discover and solve America's problems, may we suggest he look in the mirror?

Imagine for a moment you know nothing about Bill Clinton other than what you see. Forget the womanizing, drug-dealing, money-laundering and plane crashes. Imagine his close friends and associates are not either involuntarily deceased or in jail. All you see is the warm, engaging persona of the Head of State making good-natured but emphatic denials of wrongdoing. That's the media image. Having met both men, your editor can attest to Mr. Clinton's charm. He is certainly charming and has the gift of entrancing even the two-thirds of voters who distrust him. Bob Dole had the opposite gift, managing to repel even the most devoted supporters. He was 8 per cent behind in California, rushed there with Jack Kemp to campaign and after five days of meeting voters, he was 14 per cent behind. Mr. Kemp is currently resented by many Republicans, but it is a mark of his honesty that he preferred playing tennis to campaigning. He saw through the sham campaign weeks ago. With modesty, I never believed it in the first place.

So, if both parties have endorsed the slow conservative trend, and if the era of big government is over, what is to replace it? And, as true democracy remains suppressed, what do the main parties stand for? Given that two-thirds of campaign expenses go to media advertising, are they not now little more than collection agencies for the four television companies? How long will voters take to see through this sham? After all, they are the poor fools who fork out millions of dollars for it. In a forthcoming issue of Exegesis we shall discuss some of the lessons to be learned from this expensive mockery of democracy.

If the Dole campaign was in denial, so is Mr. Clinton. He doubtless wishes for triumph every day, but the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reminded him: "For this president, not only political tests await but the wheels of justice, which grind slowly but exceeding fine." In some ways, this election scenario resembles Herbert Hoover's 1928 success with a booming stock market, weak optimism and a complacent electorate. Yet what happened a year later? It also resembles Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection. Little wonder half the Cabinet bailed out before Air Force One had landed at Andrews Air Force Base. As the Clintons and Gores returned to the White House, the new Al Gore was launched: the 2000 candidate, dynamic and connected, and Bill Clinton was changed from Great Campaigner into Elder Statesman without even a five-minute hiatus as President of the United States. Al Gore, no Spiro Agnew, may not have to wait four years. At the Dole election night party, people were handing out "Gore in '97" bumper stickers. As soon as the Electoral College confirms the election results, Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr will likely set those wheels of justice into motion.

The irony is that, with no campaign to contemplate, a conservative, scandal-free Bill Clinton might have made a good second term president.

Steve Myers is the editor of Exegais, a journal that more people read then Enter Stage Right.

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