Wily Coyote for President?
The political maneuverings in this year’s presidential race have got to be some of the most bizarre on record. For example, Al Gore has a “good times” problem. Gore wants to take credit for the recent economic “good times,” but doesn’t want to be tarred with the brush of Bill Clinton’s private “good times.” To paraphrase George Orwell’s political classic, Animal Farm, some “good times” are better than other “good times.”
Vice President Al Gore and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez wish Bill Clinton would just shut-up. In an attempt to distance himself from the impeached and morally bankrupt, Bill Clinton, Al Gore tapped a stand-up guy like U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate.
A major reason for the Lieberman selection was because Senator Lieberman took Bill Clinton to the verbal woodshed on the Senate floor over the Monica Scandal. So, what does Bill Clinton do? He immediately tells the world that he has the greatest respect for his long-time friend, Joe Lieberman. As Al Gore is trying to push Clinton away, Clinton embraces Lieberman and, by inference, ties himself back to Al Gore.
Of course, the selection of Senator Lieberman who, by all accounts, takes his religious faith very seriously and actually practices what he preaches, also had the effect of bringing Bill Clinton’s moral lapses back onto the front pages and at the top of the nightly news shows. That effect was just starting to wane when Bill Clinton decides to discuss his moral lapses with a large group of evangelical ministers in Chicago. Boom. The Bill/Monica fiasco is back in the headlines. Of course, Clinton further undermined the credibility of his mea culpa by suggesting to the ministers that Monica was his one and only extra-martial, sexual misadventure. Right.
Meanwhile, Al Gore had handpicked, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, to be the co-chair of the Democratic National Committee and she was scheduled to have a much sought-after speaking role at the Democratic National Convention. A smart move with Hispanics who could help deliver California’s 54 electoral-college votes.
Indeed, Congresswoman Sanchez took her fund-raising responsibilities seriously. She sold 600 tickets at $5,000 per-person to a pre-convention fund-raiser at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. The advance billing promised that the 74-year-old Hugh Hefner and three-out-of-four of his 20-something girlfriends would mingle with the attendees and there would be topless bathing in the Mansion’s Grotto. No explanation was given for the absence of the fourth girlfriend or why a prominent Hispanic would want anything to do with Playboy which, according to news accounts, had just run an article suggesting Latino women are loose.
Reeling from media attention to the sex and sleaze problems the Lieberman selection was supposed to help cure and from Clinton’s latest cry for sexual forgiveness, the Gore campaign dropped two political atom bombs on Congresswoman Sanchez. When she insisted on the Playboy Mansion as her venue, she was stripped of her position as co-chair of the Democratic National Committee. And, she was stripped of her convention speaking role. Ultimately, like Japan, she surrendered and moved the fund-raiser to Universal Studios. Maybe, shell get her jobs back.
At that point, all Al Gore had left was Senator Lieberman’s reputation as an independent thinker who just happened to hold views opposite to those of Al Gore on the subjects of: HMO reform, tort reform, capital-gains tax reduction, social security reform, FDA reform, the World Trade Organization, tobacco legislation, drug pricing, gun control, the military budget and the anti-missile defense system.
So, what does the Gore campaign do with this last valuable vestige of the Joe Lieberman selection? They forced Lieberman to recant virtually all of his previously held positions and Senate votes and embrace the positions taken by Al Gore. They reversed what promised to be a moral Renaissance for the Democrats back into the Dark Ages of the Spanish Inquisition.
Is Al Gore the Wily Coyote of American politics or what?
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.