Bradley devalues the game

By Joe Schembrie
web posted December 20, 1999

Bill Bradley has called Al Gore a liar. What, he just realized that?

The Vice President's surreal, grandiose claims -- that he was the model for a character in Love Story, that he fathered the Internet, that he uncovered the Love Canal scandal -- have already made the rest of us comedically aware that Gore and Reality seldom do lunch.

Yes, Mr. Bradley, politicians lie. Given that you too are a member of that profession whose repute lies south of a brothel's, it's difficult to accept your claim of naivety.

Ex-basketball player Bill Bradley reflected a much more sophisticated understanding of competition when he wrote in his autobiographical book, Values of the Game, " . . . Imagination can also stretch the rules, for basketball is a game of subtle felonies." These words preface a recounting of his tricks for framing opposing team players with fouls. He repudiates only one tactic -- but solely because the refs caught on.

If Bradley thinks that basketball is really about playing a 'game within the game,' what does he make of the not-so-subtle felonies of politics? Bradley will play as rough in the national arena as he did on the basketball court -- on that, weeks before the official presidential playoff season begins, there is abounding evidence.

Let's look:

In presidential politics today, no one preaches more about campaign spending reform than Bill Bradley. Yet he milks the Political Action Committee system for all it's worth. The Los Angeles Times reported on July 20 that only 2.6 percent of his campaign contributions are from individuals giving less than $200 -- "the smallest percentage among major candidates of either party."

The national media referees don't call the foul -- which only gives the player incentive to commit more. So now Bradley's 'subtle felonies' have transitioned to full-blown deception.

In Iowa, he stated: "I was in the Senate chamber the night the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed that desegregated public accommodations in America. . . . And I became a Democrat because it was the party of justice. It was Democrats that stepped forward that evening in the Senate and cast their vote that washed away the stain of segregation in this country."

Ahem: Republicans also stepped forward -- and in greater proportion.

As National Review reports (October 29): "Turns out that 82 percent of Senate Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act (27 of 33), compared to 69 percent of Democrats (46 of 67). In fact, there were three-and-a-half times the number of Democrats (21) opposing the bill as Republicans (6)."

Like the man said, he was there that night -- and it doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to count votes. Why then didn't idealism inspire Bradley to become a Republican? It's critical, judgemental, mean-spirited -- and reasonable -- to conclude that Bradley is not about idealism. Bradley, who writes a memoir every other year, is about Bradley.

With liberal media referees self-blindfolded, Bradley's unchecked deceptiveness has erupted into even his campaign ads. One commercial displayed a young mother crediting Bradley's hospital maternity-stay insurance legislation with saving the life of her child. Yet actually her child was born three years before the law. Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson quipped: "Marcus Welby with a jump shot."

Or Bill Clinton with a hook.

Propagandizing weakness into strength, the liberal media portrays Bradley's shortness in charisma as proof of authenticity. Bradley expressed his estranged fellowship with truth, however, in his book, Time Present, Time Past: "Increasingly, I resist the exclusivity of 'true believers.' Isn't it better to remain open, so that you may learn from another's truth?"

He resists 'true believers' -- is he saying he favors 'false believers?'

He remains open to 'another's truth' -- is he saying he's enclosed none of his own?

(Why are those so unsure of truth, so sure they should govern?)

Or is he saying that he resists 'exclusivity' in favor of a truth inclusive of contradiction: that he can engorge on elitist campaign dollars yet pose as Man of the People -- that the Democratic Party is progressive in principle because it's reactionary in practice -- that a child can be saved through a law that doesn't exist?

Wonder how he defines 'is.'

Because Bradley bailed from the Senate long before February 12, 1999, the bloody perjury-acquittal knife lacks his fingerprints. But he demonstrates skill in all of Clinton's fake moves.

If Bradley appears to have more integrity than Gore, it's because he's got enough savvy not to flaunt the Democratic Party's dead albatross necklace as, "The finest President I have ever known." So at least one Democratic presidential candidate grips reality.

But -- he lies, lies, lies. And didn't we once demand more from our leaders than just an exhibition game?

Joe Schembrie is a contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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