From coast to coast, folks are counting the days until the Clinton presidency ends. But would the end of the Clinton presidency really mean the end of Clintonism?
Clearly, Clintonism will bloom and grow all over again if Hillary Clinton and Al Gore reign over Washington after these elections. And the most relentless defenders of Clintonism -- the entrenched, unelected, 89-percent pro-Clinton press corps -- are trying to see to that.
Election Day is drawing near, and the press seems passionately dedicated to carrying Al Gore's bags into the White House residence. One bona fide story after another casting the Democrats in a negative light is being buried.
The woman who sharply questioned Al Gore about Juanita Broaddrick in a town hall meeting has now been targeted by the IRS. Just like Broaddrick. Just like the Travelgate staffers. Just like a dozen conservative organizations, while no liberal group has been audited. It's about as coincidental as those Whitewater billing papers mysteriously appearing in Hillary's bedroom. Now imagine what the media's reaction would be if this were a Republican administration. Think: Nixon administration. You know what the press would do with this. But this is the Clinton-Gore era. Total network news coverage? Zilch.
The Gore campaign was up in Michigan, and refused access to a reporter, first to the media van, then even to a car behind the van, because he's wheelchair-bound. What would ABC, CBS and NBC have done with this story (especially since it deals with one of their own) had it been the Bush campaign banishing cripples? God only knows. How much coverage did they give the Gore camp? Except for the Fox News Channel -- nada.
Four years ago, GOP candidate Bob Dole was raked over the coals endlessly by the press for skipping the annual NAACP convention. Remember that? So what risk is Gore taking when he turns down the invitation to address the American Legion convention, a tradition of presidential candidates of both parties dating back to the 1920s? None at all: ABC, CBS and NBC declined the story, too.
Here's another one. Black Secret Service agents have charged that Gore made no effort to address racial complaints about his security detail; and a black congresswoman threw fuel on that most politically-incorrect scandal by adding that "Gore's Negro tolerance level has never been too high." None of it, not a single word of it, has found its way into a network news story on those three networks.
What, then, are these scribes covering? For the entrenched liberal media, the Big Story is whatever the Gore campaign tells them it is. Gore's flacks whispered to the New York Times that Bush's ad on prescription-drug subsidies had subliminally inserted the word "RATS" into the ad. Blamo! Front page story in the Times the following morning. Blanket coverage on all the broadcast network evening and morning shows. The tape loop ran endlessly on cable news. I mean, (ITAL) really (ITAL). Can these people be serious?
Bryant Gumbel was simply apoplectic, of course, and declared as fact that political advertising "struck a new low." Earth to Gumbel: This was, honest Injun, worse than your colleague Bill Moyers' Goldwater-will-start-nuclear-war "Daisy" ad from 1964?
The media's fainting spell over this Bush ad was only slightly more dramatic than their collective outrage over Bush's last ad. Here, a woman's voice had asked: "Who's he gonna be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple? Or the one who now promises campaign finance reform?" "How dare the Bush campaign poke fun at Gore for holding a fundraiser at a Buddhist temple!" collectively wailed our impartial press corps. Gore's explanations have oozed the essence of Clintonism: It wasn't a fundraiser, but a "donor maintenance event," and so on. That, like Clinton's "Talk to my lawyer" answer to the Broaddrick rape charge, which is apparently good enough for the press.
An essential principle of Clintonism, in addition to the truth-twisting wordplay, is the absolutely shameless refusal to admit fault. A simple political reality in the age of Clintonism is that the establishment media won't call you on it, either.
Al Gore just finished a $30,000,000 negative ad buy against Bush, but Dubya is somehow the negative campaigner. Gore's ads can shamelessly claim that a judge is upbraiding Bush over child health in Texas, knowing that the press won't point out the judge is an ultraliberal appointee of Lyndon Johnson. But Bush is the one slammed for being dishonest in his commercials.
It's the driving imperative of Clintonism: Never mind searching for the truth. Just stop those Republicans.