A tinge of revenge?

Posted: Dec 25, 2000 12:00 AM
Democrats tell us that President Bush should foster an atmosphere of bipartisanship in Washington. They insist that the "photo-finish" presidential election requires that the new administration make conciliation with Democrats its highest priority. But what is the Democratic leadership offering to do to fulfill its part in this golden rule equation: "Do unto the other Party as you would have it do unto you"? Not a solitary thing, because to them the requirement of bipartisanship applies only to Republicans. It won't be enough for Republicans to move toward the political center. Unless they adopt a full-fledged Democratic agenda, they will be guilty of rank partisanship. And the media will not lift a finger to challenge the Democrats, but instead, will defend them as being wrongfully deprived of power by the Republican high court. It is troublesome that Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle has telegraphed his obstructionist intentions, but there is an even more ominous harbinger for the next four years: Bill Clinton's coronation of his confidante and fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe as head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Consider McAuliffe's own words as a reflection of his attitude toward this exalted bipartisanship. In a conference call between Clinton, McAuliffe and Joseph Andrew -- the now-vanquished would-be competitor to lead the DNC -- McAuliffe rattled his sabers. "Let George W. Bush have a good week. Let him have a good inauguration. But we need to give these Republicans the same honeymoon they gave us: none." I don't know about you, but I don't recall hearing one word of condemnation of these pugnacious words from the man poised to lead the Democratic Party by any Democrats or any of the mainstream media. Does that mean they condone that tone? If so, my earlier prediction of the Democrats' planned four-year war is even more of a no-brainer than I thought. But there are further disturbing aspects to McAuliffe's ascension to leadership. It shows that Clinton, if not directly calling the shots for the party after the expiration of his term, will at least be playing a major role in its decisions. The Clinton-McAuliffe combination is a strong statement from the Democratic Party -- stronger even than Tom Daschle's promised recalcitrance. As Clinton's alter ego McAuliffe will ensure partisan warfare for the unforeseeable future. I'm not talking here about healthy partisan battles on substantive policy disagreements. I'm talking the same old dirty politics that have dominated the past eight years -- the very kind of politics George Bush is determined to eradicate. Remember that McAuliffe is the guru who presided over Clinton's 1996 reelection effort, which the Washington Post described as "the most scandal-plagued harvest season in recent politics." Clinton and McAuliffe would doubtless have us believe that the campaign finance scandal involved not the Clinton campaign itself, but the Democratic National Committee. But the truth is that Clinton was intermingling the funds and activities of the two entities, and micromanaging each in flagrant violation of the campaign finance laws. Clinton purposely blurred the distinction between soft money and hard money so he could get around the legal limitations applicable to hard money contributions. McAuliffe, unwittingly or otherwise, had to have been complicit in this arrangement. In fact, that's one of the things that so troubled both FBI Director Louis Freeh and Charles La Bella, the head of the Justice Department's Special Task Force investigating the campaign finance scandal. They both noted that there was strong evidence that Clinton had personally controlled the Democratic Party's advertising campaign and used its funds in support of his re-election effort. Don't you think it's reasonable for Republicans to be concerned over Clinton's continued involvement and the Democrats' apparent willingness to let that happen? Maybe they still view Clinton, warts and all, as their only salvation -- even his successor Al Gore couldn't hold on to the baton. Again, I hope I'm wrong, but it occurs to me that Clinton's influence could be more than a bit mischievous. He's the guy who not long ago reminded us that Republicans still haven't apologized to the nation, meaning to Bill Clinton, for impeaching him. So let me get this straight: Bill Clinton's not sorry for the Lewinsky scandal; he's not sorry for the campaign finance scandal; his wife's a new senator; and he's got his finger on the hot button of the Democratic Party apparatus. Does anyone smell revenge in the air?
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