- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2000

With the choice of Sen. Joseph Lieberman as running mate for Vice President Al Gore, probity is breaking out all over the Democratic Party. Signals are going out that the Gore years (if they are to come) will be very different from the Clinton era. No more interns underneath the desk, no more fumbling around in the hallways of the Oval Office. In other words, presidential candidate Al Gore is fleeing as best he can from the sleaze and scandal of the Clinton administration for which he has been a cheerleader for the past eight years. Mr. Gore is clearly hoping that Mr. Lieberman's reputation for decency and integrity will help wash away the moral stigma.

Therefore, the stubborn resistance of California Rep. Loretta Sanchez to give up her planned fund-raising event in Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion this week was not considered helpful at all by the campaign. The fund-raiser would have confirmed every single giggle-making stereotype of Democratic party animals and their Hollywood friends. This was particularly so, given that the Playboy party was sure to be the best attended of all in Los Angeles. It is a sure bet that every reporter in town would be trying to crash the event for purely professional reasons of course.

Though the recipient of Mr. Hefner's money himself, Mr. Gore drew the line at providing photo-ops with girls in bunny outfits and push-up bras and at first simply refused to attend. After the elevation of religion and morality to Democratic issues, however, the heat was turned up on Miss Sanchez to cancel the event. She was denied a speaking role at the Democratic convention by Party Chairman Joe Andrew, and there was also talk of yanking Miss Sanchez's title as co-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and goodness knows what else.

On Friday, Miss Sanchez caved, and said that she would settle for a different venue. The more important thing is that her personal political action committee, Hispanic Unity USA, "will have a good event and they will be financially strong … to empower people," she said on the NBC "Today" program. The fact that she clung for so long to a scheme that would certainly not have served to "empower" women shows monumentally bad judgment.

Meanwhile they were sorely disappointed at the Playboy Mansion, where Democratic fund-raising events have been taking place for years, so spokeswoman Cindy Rakowitz told Reuters from the National Women's Political Caucus, to former presidential candidate Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. But that was before the Democrats got morality.

While Republicans have surely enjoyed the sight of Democrats squirming, it is a fair bet that none would enjoy it more than conservative Republican Bob Dornan, who was beaten for the Orange County congressional seat by Miss Sanchez in one of the most contested congressional elections of the 1990s. What goes around comes around.

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