Desperate times -- desperate measures

Posted: Aug 04, 2000 12:00 AM
PENNSYLVANIA -- The liberal lapdogs laboring in the media vineyards have always been happy to proselytize on behalf of Clinton-Gore & Co. But they were pushed beyond frustration this week at the First Union Center in the City of Brotherly Love. They may be in recovery for weeks -- or at least until the Democratic Convention/Playboy Mansion fundraiser in Los Angles next week. Back in 1856, Republicans gathered here in Philadelphia for their first-ever Republican convention. And this week, like their predecessors, the 2,066 Republican delegates, their alternates, and thousands of party activists who convened in Philadelphia for the 37th Republican National Convention came to mark a new beginning and the start of something great. This year, Republicans are more optimistic, cohesive and confident about the future than they have been in many years. They have reason to be. In 1994, the American people decided to give Republicans control of both houses of the Congress and more statehouses and state legislatures than any time in this century. And now, after six years of cleaning up the budget mess, reforming welfare, eliminating the deficit, balancing the budget and laying the foundation for economic prosperity, the public has more confidence in Republican leadership than ever before. It also appears that the voters are now prepared to reward a job well done and test the full mettle of Republican leadership by entrusting the GOP -- in the person of George W. Bush -- with the presidency of the United States. At least that's what the polls show in the aftermath of this week's convention in Philadelphia. But you don't need to be a Republican delegate or a pollster to know that the scent of victory is in the air. It's obvious -- in the desperate attacks by the flailing Gore campaign -- and in the frustration evidenced by the members of the media seeking evidence of Republican discord -- and finding harmony instead. The whining of the media bigwigs that the convention was "too scripted, too much sweetness and light" and devoid of villains is perhaps understandable. When your motto is "if it bleeds, it leads," you hope for controversy, anger and dissent -- not 30,000 Americans talking about tolerance, inclusion and a positive, upbeat message. But try as they might, the potentates of the press couldn't get the Republicans off message. Elton John's lifestyle may be too colorful for most Republicans, but they like the sound of "Philadelphia Freedom." What did come as a surprise was the viciousness of the attack from the Democrats who know, as vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney so eloquently put it on Wednesday night, "it's time for them to go." Lacking any kind of a positive message of his own, the Alpha Male dispatched legions of hatchet men from his self-described "slaughterhouse" to assault the Republicans in general, their candidates in particular, and their message en toto. The well-oiled Clinton-Gore attack machine, tuned to perfection during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and now wearing media credentials, swarmed over the Republican convention, like hoards of cockroaches -- spewing disinformation and distortion. Familiar old spinners like Lanny Davis, the unapologetic defender of Bill Clinton's infidelity and deceit; Mike McCurry, the former White House Press Secretary; James Carville, the man who put Ken Starr on trial; George Stephanopoulos, the consummate spinner; and Al Sharpton, the divisive preacher from Harlem were all there. And when it became obvious that these subversive surrogates weren't up to the task, they called in the Master Basher, the Maligner-In-Chief, William the Impeached, to sling mud and spit venom. In a series of unprecedented attacks by a sitting president, Bill Clinton threw out the venerable tradition of studied silence during the opposing party's political convention. The man who disgraced the Oval Office like no other, attacked the Republican presidential nominee, his father, the vice-presidential nominee and belittled the GOP's "compassionate conservative" campaign theme as nothing more than "a pretty package." The viciousness of the Clinton assault prompted Governor Bush to "depart from the script" and respond that Bill Clinton is "so desperate to have his legacy intact by getting Al Gore elected that he'll say anything, just like Al Gore will." George Bush's reply may be "off message" -- but it's right on the mark. The visceral, personal attacks by the Clinton-Gore machine are also evidence of another problem they are having as they head to Los Angeles: Nobody but nobody cares what's happening in the Gore campaign. For a month before the GOP went to Philadelphia, there was extraordinary interest in who George W. Bush would pick as his nominee for vice president. But even now, on the eve of the Democrat convention, there is but muted speculation about who will have the ignominious distinction of joining Al Gore on his oft-reinvented stumble toward a humiliating defeat. That's why all the attacks are on Bush-Cheney. The LibDems are desperate -- and it shows. It is indeed, "time for them to go."