- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 5, 2000

Given Bill Bradley's meek demeanor during the Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles Wednesday night, the former basketball player appears prepared to throw in the towel. The drubbing Mr. Gore administered to Mr. Bradley in Washington state the day before Mr. Gore crushed his opponent 68 percent to 31 percent was worse than any beating the former Princeton All-American and New York Knicks Hall of Famer ever suffered on the hardwood.

The debate, which was the ninth time Mr. Bradley and Vice President Gore faced-off during this campaign, excluded the fireworks that Mr. Bradley had detonated in previous encounters. Absent were the attacks he previously wielded against the vice president's integrity and truthfulness. If Mr. Bradley were angling for a position on the national ticket, he could not have been more accommodating. For his part, Mr. Gore could not have been more agreeable to the positions espoused by Mr. Bradley. Mr. Gore repeatedly prefaced his statements following Mr. Bradley's by saying, "I agree with Bill Bradley" and "I think Bill made a good point."

Nowhere was this liberal unanimity more evident than in Mr. Gore's wink to organized labor, which is preparing to mount a ferocious attack against the agreement the Clinton administration negotiated with China for its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). During the debate, Mr. Bradley, who said the agreement should be ratified, perceptively observed, "Frankly, I don't know why the communist leadership agreed to it because [China's] going to end up with thousands of Internet companies … and hundreds of thousands of people in China creating problems because political activity will [be the] result." Characteristically in this debate, Mr. Gore replied, "I agree with that, incidentally." For all practical purposes, however, the vice president has told the Big Labor bosses, who next Tuesday will deliver the nomination to Mr. Gore, that if they succeed in torpedoing the WTO agreement in Congress this year, they can expect a far more union-friendly agreement next year in a Gore administration. (In reality, it is virtually inconceivable that China would renegotiate the terms of its entry, a fact that would destroy the chances of any agreement at all, which is precisely what Big Labor wants.)

Despite their professed opposition to gay marriages, Messrs. Gore and Bradley nonetheless could not resist pandering to the gay and lesbian lobby. Both voiced their opposition to California's Proposition 22, a ballot initiative that would close the loophole that would otherwise require California to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Evidently unaware of his own hypocrisy, Mr. Gore also condemned Mr. Bush for attending "a private meeting with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson." Yet, Mr. Gore found no contradiction in his determination not to "violate the private conversation" he recently held in his daughter's New York City apartment with the extremely racist Al Sharpton. As if it made a difference, Mr. Gore was keen to note that he "did not meet with Reverend Sharpton publicly," a politically convenient trick that merely ensured there would be no videotape for the Republicans to exploit during the general election. (For the record, Mr. Gore also gratefully accepted the endorsement Wednesday from the Rev. Jesse Jackson.)

Just as mention of the "sleaze factor," which pervaded the media's coverage of the Reagan administration, has mysteriously disappeared from the media's coverage of the Clinton-Gore administration, so too has any media concern with the homeless. Thus, Mr. Gore felt comfortable telling the audience that his wife Tipper would concentrate her efforts on the homeless as first lady. The next time Mr. Gore flies into San Francisco's airport en route to another shakedown of Silicon Valley, he ought to take Sam Trans Bus No. 292 to San Francisco's Transbay Terminal. Walking in any direction, Mr. Gore and his wife will encounter more able-bodied homeless aggressively panhandling amid one of the strongest regional economies in the nation than he or his wife ever would have encountered in New York City at the bottom of the 1981-82 recession. What Tipper will be doing about these folks is anybody's guess.

Finally, Mr. Gore seems to have forgotten who has been in power during the past seven years. Asked about the fact that thousands of U.S. military personnel must rely on food stamps, a direct consequence of the Clinton-Gore administration's decimation of the defense budget, Mr. Gore unembarrassingly noted that such personnel issues were "extremely significant" and offered the lame observation that "we need to do more to support the families and the men and women in uniform."

Mr. Gore would do well to concentrate less on infringing on the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment, about which he demagogued once again during the debate, and concentrate more on feeding the soldiers whose arms represent the ultimate defense of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. You can bet that the Republican nominee, unlike Wednesday's quiescent Mr. Bradley, will hold Mr. Gore accountable on that score.

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