Are Democrats winning the battle on ethics and the economy?

Larry Elder

10/12/2006 12:01:00 AM - Larry Elder

Can the Bush administration get just a little bit of credit?

The unemployment rate just dropped from 4.7 percent to 4.6 percent. The Washington Post, not exactly a Bush administration cheerleader, recently wrote "that just about every worker with the skills and desire to work can find a job." Yet the same article cited its own poll that shows only 39 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the economy, with 59 percent disapproving.

The tax cuts, as tax-cutting former President John F. Kennedy predicted, sparked the economy. Kennedy once said that it may sound "paradoxical," but in order to increase tax revenues, we must decrease tax rates. Under Bush, "tax collections have increased by $521 billion in the last two fiscal years," reports The Wall Street Journal, "the largest two-year revenue increase -- even after adjusting for inflation -- in American history." Even with the irresponsible spending, this puts the deficit at 2 percent of GDP, well below the recent 40-year average of 2.7 percent. Inflation and interest rates remain low. And labor analysts just revised upward the figures on job creation, adding an additional 810,000 jobs!

But what about giving Bush credit?

Nonsense, the Los Angeles Times now editorializes, credit our Energizer-bunny economy. You know, it just goes, and goes, and goes, irrespective of the president behind the wheel. After calling unemployment and inflation "reassuringly low"; after noting that "growth is steady"; after calling the recent record Dow Jones averages a "tribute to the resilience of the U.S. economy"; and after pointing out that "hourly wages in September were up 4 percent from a year earlier" -- the Times editorial gave the Bush administration no credit.

But, take a look at quotes from past editorials from the Los Angeles Times:

July 17, 2003: The White House's deficit of 2003, as well the one projected for the next year, "isn't as bad is it seems. It's worse."

Sept. 20, 2003: As Bush's unfulfilled spending promises continue, "Bush risks not just his personal credibility but the nation's security, economic future and natural resources."

Oct. 6, 2003: "The administration's tax cuts are the economic equivalent of steroids; they may quickly pump up economy, but the long-term effect on fiscal health will be dire."

Jan. 29, 2004: "The unreal quality of the Bush administration's economic program reached new heights last week."

June 2, 2004: " . . . President Bush risks fiscal meltdown by addressing the federal budget deficit as if there's no day after tomorrow," and criticized Bush policies "that would further inflate the deficit . . . "

Now let's talk ethics. A recent poll, in the wake of the Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., scandal, gives Democrats higher marks for "ethics" than Republicans.

Consider the last 30 years, when the House instituted post-Watergate ethics guidelines. The tally, as of late 2004, over the same period, comes to 70 House members who faced investigations for ethical misconduct: 55 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

Recall how Democrats defended former President Clinton against accusation after accusation. The president's defenders dismissed allegations by former Arkansas state staffer Paula Jones, who accused then-Gov. Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct. Clinton defender-in-chief James Carville said, "If you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find." But after pleading guilty to lying under oath, and becoming the first sitting president to be found in contempt of court, Clinton settled Jones' "non-meritorious" civil sexual harassment case out-of-court for $850,000.

Kathleen Willey, a former Democratic contributor, claimed on "60 Minutes" that the former president took her hand and placed it on his genitalia. Incredibly, feminist Gloria Steinem wrote that it was not sexual harassment because when Willey asked him to stop, he did. Call this the "one grope rule."

Juanita Broaddrick, a volunteer for Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton's gubernatorial campaign, accused him of rape. Yet Clinton defenders simply dismissed her as a liar, just as they dismissed, minimized or attacked others claiming to have had affairs with the married Clinton. Mistresses include Arkansas "saloon singer" Gennifer Flowers. Clinton initially denied having an affair with her, but later admitted, under oath, to one sexual encounter. The president, of course, famously wagged his finger and denied intern Monica Lewinsky's claim of a sexual relationship. Meanwhile, Clinton defenders played hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil.

In the case of former Republican Congressman Foley, he promptly resigned after the revelation of sexually explicit e-mails to a former page. Despicable? Yes. Rape? No. In any case, the Republican Party dumped him faster than you can say "Ken Starr."

An old trial lawyer once told me, "Juries don't decide cases based solely on fact, evidence and law. They reach their verdicts based on 'impressions'." In the battle for "impressions" over the economy and ethics, Democrats -- with the complicity of the liberal mainscream media -- think they're winning. Let's wait until the jury returns with its verdict.