- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Steak or lasagna; red wine or white; paper or plastic; George W. Bush or Al Gore?
With a week to go, some voters about one in six are still struggling with what they apparently believe is one of life's annoying little decisions who they want as president. As I chatted with various strangers last weekend who told me they were still undecided, I was struck by how many of them had fallen victim to the confusions inflicted on the public by the media.
Perhaps the most persistent and outrageous media conceit that has increased the indecision of the public is that Mr. Bush is not smart enough to be president, while Mr. Gore is one of the nation's better minds. Reporters who are graduates of Palooka College make fun of Mr. Bush, who not only graduated from Yale, but gained a masters from Harvard Business School, while Mr. Gore flunked out of divinity school and dropped out of law school. These media types, perhaps understandably, confuse loquacity with intelligence.
More to the point, it has apparently missed these wise guys' attention that Mr. Bush has crafted one of the most brilliantly successful careers in recent American political history. It is not by chance that he is only the second son of a president in American history to gain the nomination of a major party for president (the other one, John Quincy Adams, won his election.)
As to the second part of the equation what is the evidence that Mr. Gore is particularly smart? I've been in a few meetings with him, and my assessment is that he was spotting both Bill Clinton and my old boss Newt Gingrich about 25 IQ points. He struck me as a pretentious, intellectual poseur of the second rank. I'll give him only this: His successes have been a tribute to good work habits. He memorizes a myriad of details, but he lacks the intelligence to synthesis diverse data or to risk spontaneity in an intellectual give and take. Where Mr. Clinton would respond to Mr. Gingrich's arguments with adroit and responsive rebuttal, Mr. Gore invariably fell back on canned talking points, which he would regurgitate on command.
The most compelling evidence of Mr. Gore's lack of useable political intelligence is, of course, his election campaign. He has masterminded (and micro-managed, if one can believe the reports in The Washington Post and New York Times) what should have been an easy double-digit victory into what looks like a probable loss. He has consistently shown bad judgment.
Worst of all, whatever knowledge Mr. Gore has acquired in his life, he has utterly failed to acquire the self-knowledge and self-confidence that is the prime requisite for the presidency. The last thing this country needs is another president whose self-doubt and psychological confusion may lead him and the country down dangerous paths. This psychological confusion has most recently manifested itself in Mr. Gore's appalling cover photograph on Rolling Stone magazine. What inner demon or sense of sexual inadequacy could have driven Mr. Gore to pose for that photograph in a pair of pants so tight that his masculinity (or a surreptitiously placed substitute) caused an unbecoming bulge? Is this part of some competitive psychodrama Mr. Gore and his boss are engaged in?
Which brings me to the ultimate reason to defeat Mr. Gore: We must put an end to Clintonism before it sends down its tainted roots any deeper into the soil of our republic. By Clintonism I mean the use of the lie, not as an occasional defense mechanism, but as the prime agent of its statecraft. Both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore not only lie about their opponents, they lie about their own programs and intentions.
The most recent example is Mr. Gore's mendacious claim last week that he is the candidate of smaller, more limited government. When I was Newt Gingrich's press secretary I experienced firsthand how the calculated lie makes honest debate impossible. If a president is willing to lie about the most basic governmental and political facts, civic debate becomes impossible, and the public becomes incapable of informed judgment. Because of the great weight that any president's words have with the public, the president of the United States must not be a liar. One of the grounds correctly included in Richard Nixon's articles of impeachment was that he lied to the American public. It is a measure of how far we have fallen in just eight years, that such a charge today would sound quaint.
If you agreed with none of George Bush's proposals, it would still be your civic duty to vote for him an honest man and thereby end the grievous reign of Clintonism.
E-mail: tonyblankley@erols.com

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