William F. Buckley
Is it really the case that messianic narcissism is OK by the American people? The Gore Experience will test the question.

The endless celebration of the candidate's qualities: his virtuousness, his friendliness, his seriousness, his curiosity, his fidelity, his playfulness, his spirituality ... STOP!!! ... We are being carried away! The TORTURE is that we have to wait until November to VOTE FOR AL GORE! Between now and then 5 million people will starve, 6 million will go without medical care, 7 million will have babies who would otherwise have been aborted, and 7 million will not learn how to read. And the majority of all of the above live in Texas. And crime is at the lowest level in 25 years and we'll have 50,000 more policemen.

And Joe Lieberman is so outstandingly the best man to serve as vice president, Gore discovered him after a search that took only three months. Anybody else would have used up 15 months -- and that would have made it impossible for Lieberman to be vice president because the election would have come and gone.

DON'T YOU SEE THAT? Well my daughters will explain it to you. Karenna, explain that to them ... And who says Spike Jonze is an iconoclast? There is (START ITAL)) nothing iconoclastic in his view of me. Americans have (START ITAL ) not lost their faith. I would NEVER permit that.

It cannot be a coincidence that Al Gore looks like Superman. Supermen don't lose elections. Besides which, there is always rank Republican stupidity, in case Providence is sleepy enough to forget to honor the imperatives of the party of justice and goodness.

A question: It is mid-afternoon of Day 4 of the Democratic convention. Somebody leaks to the press that yet another grand jury is considering whether to indict Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in the Lewinsky affair. That being the equivalent of appointing a commission to investigate the accusations of Senator McCarthy, you really have to ask: Did the guy who leaked this (START ITAL) really intend to damage Gore? If so, that partisan is as politically deaf as Mr. Cheney, who on Day 1 minus 2 of the Democratic convention permitted to be released the news that his company would pay him $20 million as a severance bonus.

"These are the people who don't want to raise the minimum wage." There was never a more obvious commentary on the $20 million. Why -- give the reading public one reason -- why couldn't the candidate for vice president on the Republican ticket have delayed the publication of that information until Nov. 8? Why didn't he tell the board of directors of Halliburton that yes, he'd be glad to discuss severance arrangements, but he was going to be tied up for 12 weeks.

Is it possible that the person who leaked the news of the redundant grand jury has a secret sympathy for Bill Clinton? That he thought to get out the news on Day 4 of yet another grand jury getting into Lewinsky intending to bring a) incredulity, and b) wrath leading to c) contempt for the special investigators and d) a renewal of loyalty to Clinton/Gore?

The ratings as published on Friday tell us that "More Tune In/To Democrats." Specifically, ABC, NBC and CBS were watched by a combined audience estimated at 15 million people on Day 3 (that is the vice president's night). Joe Lieberman 15, Dick Cheney 14.1 million. But the general viewing trend is apparently down. When Al Gore accepted the nomination for vice president at the 1996 Democratic convention, he had 16.5 million viewers. That's a 10 percent drop over the four years -- more, if you take into account the increase in the number of television sets and potential viewers.

Could there be a reason for this diminution, other than the competitive attractiveness of "Survivor" and "Millionaire"? Reporters Bernard Weinraub and Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times might have stumbled on it. They spoke of the introduction to Candidate Gore:

"The tribute was designed to depict Mr. Gore as warm, gutsy and accessible. But it went on and on.

"And on.

"'I didn't hear it,' said Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York.

"'I didn't hear it,' said Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly.

"'I didn't really listen to it,' said Christine Quinn, a New York City councilwoman.

"'Sure it's hokey,' said Jaynne Keyes, a former New York City film commissioner. 'But three-fourths of America is hokey, and proud of it.'"

Oh yeah?


William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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