- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 1999

First, we all said that Al Gore had the nomination wrapped up while the Republicans had no obvious front-runner (that was way back in the spring, before George W. Bush had put his wallet on the table.) Then we all said Mr. Bush had it in a walk, but poor old Mr. Gore was such a twit, he couldn’t even get a date with his wife, let alone run a presidential campaign. Well, it’s time to reverse field again.
Republicans are beginning, in private, to use the dreaded “Q” word about Mr. W. (Is Mr. Bush being “Quaylized”?) Meanwhile Mr. Gore’s stock is going up so fast that I am prepared to give my first buy signal of the year 2000. I have seen enough. I believe that Mr. Albert Gore will beat Mr. William Bradley for the Democratic Party nomination. My elves are still neutral on the Republican race.
While, obviously, anything can happen in politics, Messrs. Gore and Bradley have shown their fighting abilities and it’s a mismatch. Mr. Gore is like an experienced club boxer who could never defeat a true champion, but will beat the local boy every day of the week. He knows all the dirty moves. He positions himself between the referee and his opponent to hide the illegal rabbit punch to the kidneys. When he takes a punch, he crowds his opponent until he gets his wind back. Between rounds he’ll sneak an irritant on his glove and rub the chemicals into his opponent’s eyes in the next round. It’s ugly, but against a palooka, it works.
While Mr. Bradley was a world class basketballer and, for a while in the 1980s, a pretty fair senator he is turning into the worst presidential candidate since Michael Dukakis.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gore is running a more disreputable version of Father Bush’s 1988 general election campaign. In that campaign, Father Bush held photo-ops at flag factories while he accused Mr. Dukakis of opposing the pledge of allegiance and being a member of the American Civil Liberties Union the unfair implication being that Mr. Dukakis was not a patriot. Mr. Dukakis was of course a patriot he was just a political nitwit and liberal also.
He first ignored the charge (on the false assumption that the American public was too smart to take Father Bush’s idiotic charges seriously). When he realized the public was buying the snake oil, he whined about it, but he never showed any righteous anger and he never hit back. Mr. Bradley has displayed all of Mr. Dukakis’ bad instincts.
When Al Gore started accusing Mr. Bradley of planning to destroy Medicaid and Social Security, Mr. Bradley let days go by before responding. And when he did respond, it was to cry like a baby. Mr. Bradley complained that he was a Democrat, and Democrats always get political support on the Social Security and Medicaid issues. Why, this was the sort of charge made against Republicans. How could Mr. Gore accuse him a good Democrat of such things?
Aside from being an unintentionally revealing insight into the working of the Democratic mind it was an appallingly feeble retort. The most Mr. Bradley could ever muster was the counter charge that Mr. Gore was not speaking the whole truth. In this age of Clintonian perjury and obstruction of justice, the charge of not speaking the whole truth almost sounds like a compliment. Having seen the diffidence with which Mr. Bradley responded to that charge, Al Gore unloaded his next whopper: Mr. Bradley wants to raise taxes, while he, Al Gore, would be the man-mountain protecting the American people from such irresponsibility. Of course, Mr. Bradley had not said that (he only had refused to rule out categorically a tax increase,) and Mr. Gore has consistently refused to take the no-new taxes pledge himself. But, again, the ever languid Mr. Bradley merely observed, in response, that Mr. Gore was distorting his statements.
Apparently Mr. Bradley lacks either the wit or the guts to skin Mr. Gore alive for perpetuating what the public likes least about his old boss, Bill Clinton: the never-ending lying. While the public might not take that attack on Mr. Gore from Republicans, Mr. Bradley a Democrat and a man of known rectitude is perfectly positioned to effectively pummel Mr. Gore’s character. The fact that he hasn’t, tells me that Mr. Bradley doesn’t want the presidency enough to really fight for it. Mr. Gore, on the other hand, is cynical enough to recognize the usefulness of the big lie strategy, and wants the presidency enough to disgrace his family name to get it.
You don’t have to fight dirty to win the presidency but you have to fight. In a match between a fighter and a poseur, the fighter will win every time. Unless Bill Bradley changes his political personality and instincts in the next few weeks it’s adieu, Bill.

Tony Blankley’s column for The Washington Times appears on Wednesdays.

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