- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2000

Al Gore has been promising on the stump not to appoint Supreme Court justices like "Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas."This is a curious

promise on two counts. First, Mr. Gore voted to confirm Justice Scalia, whose judicial philosophy was well known at the time. Second and far more important in condemning Justice Thomas, Mr. Gore has chosen to play the "Massa Card," which is what happens when white guys lecture black guys on proper racial deportment.

Expect to see more of this as the presidential campaign winds down. Mr. Gore has a huge problem right now. Democrats don't give a rip about him. Sure, they like him better than George W. Bush, but Dubya neither scares nor alarms them. So Team Gore must come up with some strategy for revving up his would-be voters.

Two years ago, Democrats closed the election season by running racially charged ads in Maryland, Texas and Missouri. The idea was to scare black voters to the polls.

Chances are, the Party of Bull Connor will get back into the incitement business this year in hopes of stimulating black turnout. But first, Mr. Gore has deemed it necessary to rid himself of a single meddlesome jurisprude Clarence Thomas because the justice threatens to expose the hollowness of left-wing "compassion."

Modern liberalism has degenerated into a grotesque version of the minstrel show. Wealthy and/or powerful politicos herd victims onto the public stage, court them with impossible promises, and demand praise in exchange. It's a humiliating ritual: The presumptively downtrodden grovel and mewl about their tough lives, and the grandees toss out a few bundles of cash before hailing their limousines and sedans.

The left-wing enterprise always had depended on the illusion that society is divided into smart people and idiots, and that the poor belong in the dimwit category. The welfare system, whose reform Mr. Gore and Bill Clinton resisted strenuously and repeatedly, encouraged the poor to behave like fools to have children out of wedlock, avoid high-paying jobs, drop out of school and live pathological lives in exchange for a monthly check from Washington.

Similarly, affirmative action, which began as an outreach program, had, by the early years of this administration, decayed into a cosmic insult from a helping hand to a slap in the face; from outreach to quotas.

When Justice Thomas appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee years ago, many of the honorables in attendance expected him to show proper deference. Instead, he was uppity. When he described the Anita Hill hullabaloo as a "high-tech lynching," senators bristled with rage not because the accusation was unwarranted, but because it was so searingly true.

Furthermore, Justice Thomas insisted he not the smarmy white guys arrayed before him was responsible for his success. He, not they, worked his way out of poverty. He, not they, got himself in and through Yale Law School. He, not they, entered the politically incorrect world of conservative politics. And he, not they, earned a seat on a federal district court of appeals.

He buttressed his case by discussing the Founders' belief in inalienable human rights and innate human dignity. Along the way, he hinted at what he was to become the most deeply traditional man to sit on the court in at least a generation.

His confirmation battle figures into this year's political campaign in the following way. The Democratic Party, which reached out to blacks during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, now takes African-Americans for granted. Its anti-discrimination policies often insult men and women of color with the insinuation of inferiority, and its social policy lays siege to the conservative virtues that long have formed the cultural backbone of Baptist churches, community schools and strong homes.

Justice Thomas' example shows that one can succeed without Uncle Sam. And the present debate about big government vs. little government could remind folks that Washington elites spent decades striving not merely to grind the poor into submission, but to hurl them into spiritual desolation.

George W. Bush continuously complains about "the soft bigotry of low expectations." But lousy schools, sadistic welfare programs and an indifferent justice system aren't soft. They are brutal and it's time somebody made "compassionate" politicians answer for the misery they knowingly inflicted and the chaos they still encourage when they undermine tried-and-true morals.

Compassion has begun to rot into something else. The left cared more about moral vanity than actual results. This may be why Mr. Gore's votaries are working so feverishly to paint Gov. Bush as a potential threat to minorities and why millions of voters aren't buying it.

Tony Snow is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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