- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000


There are times in life when disillusionment saps the will to strive, when the shattering of an ideal undermines the power to believe. We go on, of course, but we are never the same. Now, we face a new despair: The New York Times has reported that Bill and Al are all washed up.
The headline is disheartening enough "Once Close to Clinton, Gore Keeps a Distance" but the story is cruel in its tabulation of divorce-court detail. Bill waits by the phone. Al doesn't call. Bill just wants to help, but Al keeps saying, "I am my own man" (whoever that is). "My guess is Clinton resents Al, and that's why I think he has stuck it to him on occasion," said Martin Peretz, one of Al's friends. The veep is "too proud to admit he needs help from the acknowledged master," according to Bill's aides. Bill is frustrated over how things are going. Al is in denial about the relationship, reluctant even to release new photos of the two men together.
It is, thankfully, possible to steady oneself by indulging in some nostalgia thinking back to the 1992 bus tour, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," Bill and Al throwing a football, Hillary and Tipper whooping it up. But don't. That was a sham, too. "The idea that the two men were ever personal friends seems to have been mostly hype to begin with," the newspaper writes. "What bonding there was … almost certainly centered on public policy… ." That's it? In trolling for a personal anecdote, any personal anecdote, the newspaper fishes up this less than heartwarming bit of trivia: "They had their running jokes, too one mutual fascination, circa 1993-1994, was the Lorena and John Bobbitt case but theirs was primarily a business relationship." Good thing.
But business isn't too good these days. Maybe that's why Bill Clinton can no longer sit by and watch Al Gore running as his own man. Last week, at a meeting of the House Democratic caucus, Mr. Clinton inserted himself into the presidential race to the fury of the Gore campaign by responding specifically to what George W. Bush had said in the last presidential debate. "I almost gagged when I heard that answer on the patient's bill of rights in Texas," said Mr. Clinton (witty as ever). Despite Mr. Gore's reported consternation, Mr. Clinton has continued to inject himself into the campaign. At a weekend rally for his wife's senate campaign in New York, the New York Times reported that Mr. Clinton hinted "that Mr. Gore had not tried hard enough to emphasize the differences between his philosophies and Mr. Bush's."
If Mr. Clinton thinks this is the way to repair his relationship with Mr. Gore, he's probably mistaken. Of course, the president still denies that any rift exists. "It's categorically not true," Mr. Clinton said to a reporter, wagging that forefinger of his for emphasis. Ooops.
The fact is, just as George Bush ran for Ronald Reagan's third term in 1988, Al Gore is running for Bill Clinton's third term. The efforts Mr. Gore has made to try to escape this fact reveal less about a personal falling-out than they do about a hard political reality. Mr. Clinton, the first president to be impeached since Andrew Johnson, is a drag on Mr. Gore's chances of election. Mr. Clinton, who, after all, never received 50 percent of the popular vote, has never had coattails and that was before impeachment. It looks as if Mr. Gore knows that all Mr. Clinton can give him now is a bad reputation.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide