- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Wait and see

The Media Research Center, after reviewing what it called "fawning" treatment of Al Gore by Oprah Winfrey last week, says it is waiting to see whether the talk-show host follows "the same pattern of puff" when she interviews George W. Bush today.

"Oprah Winfrey has given over $15,000 to the Democratic Party, and so you would expect her to toss softballs to Gore and use her show to paint a positive portrait of him. The question is, will she be just as hospitable to Bush, whose party she opposes politically, or will she sandbag him?" asked Brent Bozell, chairman of the Media Research Center.

Huffington returns

Banking and oil heir Michael Huffington, who waged a bitter 1994 campaign against Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is again considering a role in California politics, the Associated Press reports.

The last time the 53-year-old Republican made headlines was in 1998, when he disclosed that he was bisexual.

At the Republican state convention over the weekend, Mr. Huffington grabbed the spotlight again, declaring he is not through with politics.

Promoting tolerance within the Republican Party for diversity of race, ethnicity, and particularly sexual preference is at the top of his agenda, he said. His goal to help promote that: winning the office of mayor or governor.

"The reason I came out is to say, 'Hey, let's open the door to the last bastion of discrimination,' " Mr. Huffington said Saturday. "The party of Lincoln should be reaching out to blacks, Hispanics, gays and so forth and so on."

Among other things, Republican members should endorse federal hate-crimes legislation, he said.

However, Mr. Huffington's own experience in the California legislature and in Congress taught him that a single lawmaker in such a large body can't make enough of a difference, he said. That's why he would only consider "executive" elected jobs: mayor or governor.

Mr. Huffington said he won't run against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2002 because challenging an incumbent is too difficult. He is not now seeking any particular office, although Los Angeles will choose a new mayor next year.

The gambling issue

Although campaign spin doctors ignored it, a new issue emerged from last week's debate between Republican Rep. Rick Lazio and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"The debate [for a U.S. Senate seat from New York] revealed that Clinton favors gambling interests, ostensibly to stimulate jobs near the Canadian border. Lazio opposes helping the growth of gambling; it undermines families, corrupts public officials, ruins lives by hooking gambling addicts and enshrines something-for-nothing in place of the work ethic," Mr. Safire said.

"Here is a moral issue. Following Hillary's lead, New York Democrats would adopt Mississippi's fiscal policy and thereby rake in heavy contributions from casino operators. That sleazy prospect gives Lazio the opening to emphasize how gambling most exploits those in poverty; how 'slots for tots' can lead to lifetime addiction; and how his opponent is selling out the poor and the young."

Repulsive tendencies

"The Gore campaign's exploitation of public discontent with Hollywood's excesses illustrates two repulsive tendencies in contemporary liberalism," Michael Medved writes.

"The first is the 'Do Something Disease' the impulse to offer some immediate, showy response to any perceived problem; no matter how ineffectual the gesture, we can all feel better that the problem's been addressed. The second involves the instant resort to governmental expansion new regulation, legislation and bureaucracy as the only appropriate response to every difficulty," Mr. Medved said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"These impulses lead to the absurd notion that the government should supervise the way that creators of movies, TV, pop music and video games can sell their products. The right way to deal with Hollywood's predatory practices (which I've denounced for nearly 20 years) requires leadership, not censorship. Why can't Mr. Gore use the private sector for his purposes? …

"By enlisting the most respected individuals" in a boycott of Hollywood sleaze, "he could confront the entertainment elite more effectively than any number of regulators and contingency-fee attorneys."

"But such leadership would require that the president disassociate himself from the purveyors of irresponsible entertainment a requirement that would rule out Mr. Gore. If Hollywood moguls deserve opprobrium, why honor them with invitations to the Lincoln bedroom?"

The character issue

"Only last week did the GOP finally begin to realize that the Clinton character issue was the political equivalent of 'Waiting for Godot.' No matter how patiently the Republicans stood by the roadside, no matter how convincingly they told one another that it had to be coming, the long-awaited moment of retribution for the Democrats would never occur," USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro writes.

"The Bush campaign, which finds itself retooling as often as a machine shop, revealed that the new emphasis would be on battling Gore on the issues. True, Bush insisted in a weekend interview with Robert Novak and Rowland Evans, 'Character is an issue in this campaign. It is an issue because people want somebody to bring some honor and dignity to the White House.' But that argument has become more of an applause line for the GOP faithful than a formula for restoring the Bush family to the White House."

The columnist added: "If you accept the pendulum theory of presidential campaigns, then the Texas governor is primed for a comeback. But to do that, Bush has to accept the reality that the Clinton character issue is now primarily of interest to historians."

Killer ad

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg points to a new ad by Rep. Anne M. Northup, Kentucky Republican, as "one of the most effective spots in recent memory."

The congresswoman's opponent is Democratic state legislator Eleanor Jordan.

" 'Wage,' a 30-second TV ad produced by McCarthy Marcus Hennings for Northup, begins by asserting, 'Eleanor Jordan is worried about wages … her wages.' It goes on to cite two pay raises and a pension hike for which the Democratic legislator voted," Mr. Rothenberg observed in his Roll Call column.

"Then the ad switches to a shot of Jordan in front of a microphone on the floor of the Kentucky House.

" 'I urge you to pass this bill. Let's get on with it,' says a clearly impatient and annoyed Jordan. As she looks down at her watch, Jordan delivers a line that is likely to haunt her well into the next decade: 'I have a fund-raiser at six o'clock, and I want to get out here.'

"The ad's tag line, 'Jordan, putting herself first,' is hardly necessary," Mr. Rothenberg said.

Mr. Modesty

"Maybe it's not quite of the magnitude of inventing the Internet, but one of Al Gore's political pals has offered his own foray into hubris that is startling to behold," National Journal reports.

" 'CUOMO MAKES THE AMERICAN DREAM ACHIEVABLE FOR ONE MILLION,' was the Housing and Urban Development Department's modest headline on a Sept. 11 news release referring to Secretary Andrew Cuomo's announcement in New York City that, starting in October, a year's worth of federal rental vouchers may be bundled as a down payment on a first house," the magazine noted.

"Which leaves a question dangling: What's he running for? Cuomo is widely expected in the 2002 elections to pursue his own dream: follow in his father's footsteps and become governor of New York."

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