- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

Nervous Democrats

"If the Republican convention in Philadelphia two weeks ago was marked by GOP certainty that George W. Bush will win in November, the Democratic convention [in Los Angeles] this week is marked by growing concern that Al Gore might not," USA Today reporters Susan Page and Richard Benedetto said in a cover story yesterday.
"Democratic delegates, state activists and national strategists acknowledge that the Republican nominee has turned out to be a more formidable opponent than they first thought," the reporters wrote.
"And Gore, they say, is encountering more difficulty than expected in settling voter skepticism about whether he has the leadership skills and personality to be president. He's also had surprising difficulty getting credit for good economic times."
The reporters added: "James Carville, President Clinton's chief strategist in the race in 1992, dismisses today's polling as irrelevant and predicts Gore will win. But if Bush ends up winning the race by as many as 9 points, Carville says with his signature hyperbole, 'The party gets wiped out boom! It'll be like a meteorite has hit the earth, and we'll be the dinosaurs.' "

Blacks vs. Lieberman

"As a pollster and researcher who has long followed African-American politics, I know that of all the people mentioned as Mr. Gore's possible running mate, [Sen. Joseph I.] Lieberman was the one least likely to appeal to African-Americans," writes David A. Bositis, a senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a group that researches issues involving black Americans.
"There are political reasons why this is so. Despite his reassurances this week, he was not known as a supporter of affirmative action, especially after his favorable comments about California's proposition that outlawed affirmative action in all state programs. In addition, for four years, he has been chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, which represents moderate and conservative Democrats as a counterweight to liberals like Jesse Jackson," Mr. Bositis said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
Many blacks also wonder why one their own was not picked for the veep position, Mr. Bositis said.
"The root of black ambivalence about Mr. Lieberman, however, could be more specific. The vice president chose the one man who carries with him an implicit, some would say open, repudiation of Bill Clinton… .
"Here's a news flash for you: Black Americans want to celebrate Mr. Clinton. They don't care about his personal life."

Losing its grip

"Evidence mounts that the Democratic Party is losing its grip on the social-values issues that were key to its success in 1996 and, with it, its grasp on the political center," Dick Morris writes.
"All of the speeches so far seem to focus primarily on one basic argument: 'You never had it so good, so don't change parties,' " Mr. Morris observed in a New York Post column written before Al Gore's acceptance speech last night.
"While this argument is glib, it's also politically stupid.
"Clinton's key repositioning in 1996 was to shift his emphasis from economic issues to values issues," said Mr. Morris, a top adviser to the president during that campaign. "Income redistribution or economic upward mobility was no longer at the core of the Democratic message. The resulting appeal to middle-class, suburban, swing voters was crucial in crafting Clinton's popular near-majority on Election Day."
"Dependence on economic issues has long been a hallmark of the old-style liberals who dominated the party in the '80s. But to hear President Clinton revert to a you-never-had-it-so-good theme indicates the true shift in the party's focus back to the left."
A values-based agenda "is what turns on swing votes, not the economic focus of this week's Los Angeles Democrats. Worse, by convening near Hollywood, and with Cher and Rob Reiner [the former Meathead from 'All in the Family'] on display, the party seems to be flying directly in the face of its values agenda."

Questionable speakers

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, not only has had to retreat from his opposition to racial quotas, "he's even acquiesced in the convention's showcasing of questionable figures from the 1996 fund-raising scandals that once so troubled him," the Wall Street Journal says.
"This week the delegates heard from convention chair Terry McAuliffe, AFSCME public employee union head Gerald McEntee and Richard Trumka, the No. 2 official at the AFL-CIO. All had roles in a 1996 illegal swap scheme in which aides to former Teamster President Ron Carey approved $885,000 in contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign," the newspaper noted in an editorial.
"Charles LaBella, once Janet Reno's hand-picked head of the Justice Department's campaign finance task force, told ABC News Tuesday night that the presence of such questionable figures 'says one of two things that no one is paying attention, or two, they don't care.' "

Cheney's problem

If he's elected vice president, Richard B. Cheney will either continue to hold part of his large stake in the oil services company he has headed or forfeit it, a company official said yesterday.
Mr. Cheney, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, holds more than $13.6 million in shares and stock options in Halliburton Co., Chief Financial Officer Gary Morris said.
Because of the way the options are structured, Mr. Cheney cannot sell or transfer them to charity at this point.
After his January inauguration, if he is elected, he would either retain the options or "he could have a situation where he has options he has to forfeit completely," Mr. Morris said. He added that he does not believe stock options can be held in a blind trust, the Associated Press reports.
Spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss quoted Mr. Cheney as saying: "I will do whatever the law requires. I will do whatever I need to do to avoid any conflict of interest."
Mr. Cheney, a former congressman and defense secretary, became chief executive of Halliburton in October 1995 and chairman in early 1996. He formally left Wednesday with a retirement package that drew criticism from Democrats.

Musically challenged

"Maybe Gore's tone-deaf influence is to blame, but don't the Democrats seem musically challenged at this convention?" USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro asks.
"Monday night, Bill Clinton's swan-song serenade quickly faded into a raucous rendition of '76 Trombones' from 'The Music Man.' Didn't it dawn on anyone during those months of convention planning meetings that it might not be too wise to directly link the president to Professor Harold Hill, the confidence-man hero of the musical? You could almost picture Clinton assuring the rubes in River City, Iowa, that he really graduated from the Gary Conservatory, as part of the 'gold-medal class of '05.'
"Introducing Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg Tuesday night, the orchestrators of convention atmospherics took the emotionally manipulative route of playing 'Camelot.' But at least that choice was more apt than the music they then played in honor of Ted Kennedy, 'Still the One,' a song that contains the lyric, 'still having fun.' "

Genetically liberal

Is liberalism hereditary? Apparently so, for black people at least that's the obvious conclusion from the lead front-page story in The Washington Post yesterday.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's rhetoric at the Democratic National Convention "was reassuring to African Americans and other liberals who had questioned some of his senatorial stands on school vouchers and affirmative action," reporter David S. Broder wrote.

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