- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

It's been a particularly zany week in politics. Bill Moyers got arrested for drunk driving, Bill Clinton volunteered for the army (Israel's), Joe Lieberman accused his former running mate Al Gore of being a lefty, Mr. Gore proudly accepted that position, and the Pew Charitable Trust Research Center wasted good money asking the public whether they believed anything Mr. Clinton said. All in all, a pretty good week for the Republicans by default.

While drunk driving is a deadly serious matter, one must confess an undeniable satisfaction in seeing the most unctuous liberal media proselytizer for all things soft, safe, gentle and tolerant pulling a .10 on the Breathalyzer and then loudly telling the trooper he was in perfect control of his vehicle before being taken summarily down to the police station. I guess it's tough to be a limousine liberal without a limousine.

Meanwhile, Bill was he really president of the United States? Clinton continues his sorry decline from shrewd political opportunist to hapless buffoon. Speaking to a Jewish group, he offered up the inexplicable claim that he would gladly grab a rifle and die in the trenches fighting for Israel. This sounds like something every family's crazy uncle would say after emptying a bottle of vodka at the family picnic.

How could a man who, only a few short years ago, manipulated 60 percent of the country by his psychologically cunning mind games, imagine that given his military record such a statement could be anything but laughable? The old Bill Clinton could do many things, but literally fighting and dying for a cause was obviously not one of them. He has either lost his mind or found a bottle.

I suppose it is one of those cruel whims of fate that almost precisely at the moment Mr. Clinton was regretting that he had but one life to give for another country, the liberal Pew Trust was in the field with a poll asking the public to measure from one to four the credibility of Bill Clinton and other public figures.

According to the poll, a score of one meant you believe almost nothing of what the person in question says. A score of four meant they believed all or most of what he says. Mr. Clinton scored a one with 44 percent of the respondents and a two with another 22 percent. So 66 percent believe little if anything that Mr. Clinton says. (President Bush scored the identical 66 percent but in the categories four and three. So 66 percent believe Mr. Bush. Al Gore came in at 56 percent not believing him.)

But while the Clinton and Moyers humiliations simply can be enjoyed for their delectability, the Gore/Lieberman duel though a jolly moment, to be sure in fact has national political implications.

It started with Mr. Lieberman condemning as out-of-step with American values Mr. Gore's 2000 campaign theme: siding with the people over the powerful. Mr. Lieberman correctly rejected the theme as anti-business, anti-prosperity and out-of-step with the typical American's respect for the free enterprise system that has made America prosperous beyond our dreams.

It was more than noteworthy that such a powerful charge was made by a Democrat, but not just any Democrat: Only two years ago, Mr. Lieberman was Mr. Gore's vice-presidential running mate. Rarely, if ever, has there been such a conspicuous and intentional fight between former ticket-mates.

But, even more importantly, Mr. Gore wrote a New York Times op-ed last Sunday in which he embraced this leftward position. While it is a commonplace for Democrats to run to the left and Republicans to run to the right to win their party's nomination, for Mr. Gore it is a fateful positioning.

Whatever we conservatives may think of him, Mr. Gore has never been considered to the left within the Democratic Party. He started out as a conservative anti-abortion, pro-gun Southern Democrat. In the late 1980s, as he aspired to national leadership he shed those issues as necessary acts of obeisance to the Democratic Party interests. But, other than his environmental position,he was essentially in the middle of the road supporting the Persian Gulf War, free trade, welfare reform and balanced budgets. He even soft-peddled the gun-control issue.

But, by this weekend's words, the Democratic Party's titular head and leading contender for the Democratic Party's nomination has positioned himself irrevocably in the left wing of the already left-of-center Democratic Party. While this may prove useful in the immediate aftermath of the corporate scandals and stock-market plunge, during the almost inevitable recovery of 2003-2004 Al Gore may have dangerously mispositioned both himself and the party he aspires to lead.

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