Hail Mary past

Posted: Nov 06, 2000 12:00 AM
Why doesn't Al Gore just commit suicide right now? In a desperate Hail Mary pass to save his inert candidacy, his flacks are wildly spreading rumors about some rather mundane infractions George W. Bush committed decades ago. The media try to make an issue out of it -- without ostensibly making an issue out of it -- by endlessly pondering: "Will this be an issue?" The answer is: yes. Bush may even take the District of Columbia now. Thanks for the little reminder of what lying, hypocritical frauds liberals are. After living through an administration that produced a cornucopia of misogynist and felonious behavior, the very same people who were defending the felons are now beyond indignation about Bush. In 1976, Bush was arrested for driving (too slowly) under the influence. In college, he stole a wreath from a hotel in a fraternity prank and once got rowdy at a Yale-Princeton football game. For eight years there was no perfidy, money-whoring felonious fund-raising, or brutality against women that liberals would not defend. Now they jump on a 24-year-old drunk-driving incident and blow it up into a sensational round-the-clock news event on the order of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s death. Most ludicrous is their pretend-game of invoking the Clinton precedent of holding politicians "responsible" for their actions. Liberals are constantly making these three-step, tour de force, breathtaking leaps of logic. The "privacy" doctrine somehow transmogrified over time from a right for married couples to use contraception to the right to stick a fork in a baby's head. The 1964 Civil Rights Act went from a prohibition of racial discrimination to a mandate for racial discrimination. And now liberal flacks have the cheek to compare misdemeanor fraternity pranks to a president who was a virtual pederast, a probable rapist, a liar and a felon. Pundits who seriously contended that it was "legally accurate" for Clinton to deny that oral sex constituted "sexual relations" now stonefacedly claim that beer is a "drug" -- and therefore Bush "lied" when he denied ever being arrested for drugs! (And while we're on the charming topic of the Leader of the Free World, despite the media's convenient amnesia on this point, Clinton denied under oath both that he had had sexual relations with Monica and that she had had sexual relations with him.) Or in the alternative, they say Bush "lied" by not volunteering the incident to the press -- you know the same press complaining that the candidates aren't talking about "issues." Of course he didn't: It's embarrassing and irrelevant. Bush probably hasn't told the press about every time he passes gas in public either. (It's rather pleasant to contemplate the prospect of a president with a gene for embarrassment.) Oh, but Bush raised the issue of responsibility and integrity, these yapping Chihuahuas say. In point of fact, Bush did take responsibility for his actions. Among other things Bush did not do, he did not bribe witnesses with cushy jobs or contest what the meaning of "is" is. He was polite and contrite, pled guilty to a misdemeanor, and paid his fine. Politicians who cheat on their wives while asking the public for its trust are fond of saying that all this muckraking into politicians' "private lives" will drive good people from politics. No, it won't. But with any luck, it might drive adulterers from politics. If a man's own wife can't trust him, it's not clear why the public should. (This is a nonexclusive set of Politicians Who Can't Be Trusted -- Gore's in another.) By contrast, if misdemeanor drinking offenses from 20 years ago are sufficient to raise questions about a man's fitness for office, it's difficult to imagine anyone -- good or bad -- who will be able to seek public office. Actually, that's not true. One type of political candidate will have no reason for trepidation: the kind who can count on a courtier press. The kind whose drunk driving leads to the death of an innocent girl, but who can depend on prominent reporters for The New York Times like Adam Clymer to write that it was good for the cause that Teddy Kennedy continued with his political career, so screw Mary Jo Kopechne. If this is the worst the Democrats have been able to unearth about George W. Bush, we may as well admit it: Bush is the closest thing to a living saint Washington will have seen for some time. Indeed, the only possible explanation for such a nasty and pointless attack on Bush is that it is meant to create a presumption of truth for more vicious charges to come. This one was true but irrelevant. The next one will be relevant, but false. Look for the media to suddenly "discover" an all-new scurrilous charge against Bush on election eve.