Anticipating Gore's Poll-Driven Election Strategies
By Sara McPeak
Back in 1992 Clinton and Gore announced their "Third Way" political
strategy -- what they didn't explain was that the basis for subsequent
policy decisions would be nothing more than public opinion polls. Their
agenda has therefore been fluctuating as rapidly as their perception of
the ever changing tide of public opinion. By declaring neither a
liberal nor a conservative opinion, this administration embodies both
and therefore cannot be offensive to either. From a credibility
standpoint, however, this has proven to be a very shallow approach,
allowing the shifts of the economy and the mood of the electorate to
determine shifts in policies.
For example: Clinton began his administration by immediately changing
the liberal views upon which he had been elected. He changed his modus
operandi after a meeting with Alan Greenspan, conservative hero and
friend and confidante of Ayn Rand. As reported by the New
Statesman, March 27, 1998, "On 3 December, 1992 the Federal Reserve
Board Chairman, Alan Greenspan, flew down to Little Rock for what was
scheduled as a two-hour 'getting acquainted' session. He stayed through
lunch and through tea, and missed his last flight back to Washington,
but reckoned it was worth it because America’s central banker had
persuaded Clinton to ditch the Keynesian-style 'economic stimulus
package' on which he had won the election."
Clinton had won the election as spokesman for liberal views and he began
his first term with conservative economic endeavors. This speaks well
for Greenspan’s persuasive abilities and his conservative viewpoints,
but speaks poorly for Clinton re. his lack of conviction and willingness
to break the promises he had made. Republicans: take note -- Clinton was
smart enough to utilize a conservative viewpoint; we must be smart
enough to explain this fact to the American public.
Senator Byrd has admitted to bowing to the Third Way mentality. It is a
sad commentary on our times that Senator Byrd refused to convict Clinton
even though Byrd believed that Clinton’s perjury and obstruction of
justice offenses did rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Senator Byrd is content to ignore the rule of law, which he had sworn to
defend when he took his position in the highest lawmaking body of our
land. The rule of law falls in front of public opinion polls and
partisanship. Would Senator Byrd have voted to convict the President if
the stock market were at an all time low and the public was unhappy with
the economy? Probably not, because the partisan aspect of this acquittal
would always exist. But the point is that Byrd said that his reason for
his not-guilty vote was the polls, which show the American public is
happy with the President, the economy and the jobless rate. He blatantly
ignored the rule of law in favor of the Third Way poll-driven strategy.
The Third Way policy has given the Clinton administration constant cover
as they refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. This cover
comes in many forms, such as, 1) new ideas for policies and endeavors
which take the public's mind off of the fact that former promises have
not been kept, 2) outright lying, as mentioned above -- that the economy
is booming because of a liberal administration, when in fact this
administration has empowered a conservative economic agenda, and 3)
attacks on others for the exact offenses committed by Clinton.
A current example of this third form of political cover recently
occurred when Al Gore asked Janet Reno to study "cyber stalking" against
women. According to the AP, Gore is very concerned about the possibility
of violent treatment of women which starts as harassment on the
Internet. Said Gore, "These are not just family matters, these are
crimes... As a society, as a country, as a national family, we don't
have to put up with this kind of abuse, and we will not." Is this just
another cover up for the violent and abusive attack by President Clinton
on the 5th Jane Doe? Clinton must first accept responsibility for his
actions before his administration can lead the country in eradicating
violence against women.
The Third Way is merely a self-sustaining mechanism for a leader who is
more concerned with his image and position than the public good.
Reason magazine's April issues reports: "We may never know why
[Vince] Foster killed himself. Yet three years after Foster’s death, the
White House was indirectly blaming him for 'Filegate,' the scandal
involving illegal snooping in the FBI files of more than 900 former
White House employees." The Reason article goes on to say, "The
Clintons promised to repay all their subordinates’ legal bills. But they
closed down their legal defense fund earlier this year, still owing more
than $3 million themselves.... Finally, there’s the first lady. In
interviews on NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s Good Morning America, Mrs.
Clinton blamed a 'vast, right-wing conspiracy' for the president’s
troubles... Here’s what Hillary Clinton is really saying: The people who
are accusing my husband have vile motives; as a consequence, whatever my
husband did, he isn't responsible for his actions."
Commitment, therefore, should be a central theme of the Republican
agenda as the personal and public promises of this administration have
been hollow. The present administration will not accept responsibility
for their actions and Republicans must convince the electorate that they
have been betrayed.
Irresponsible behavior is exemplified by lying. Unfortunately some of
the most visible feminists stand firm with Clinton even though he has
been impeached for lying about his offenses toward women and obstructing
justice regarding his offenses toward women.
There are, of course, a few feminists who buck White House political
pressure: "What I really care about is that Clinton has consistently
lied on matters of policy," said Jo Ellen Green Kaiser in the Nov/Dec
'98 issue of Tikkun, "What I care about -- as a feminist -- are
Clinton’s affairs of state... Perhaps the worst offenses of the Clinton
regime have come in the realm of foreign policy. Just weeks ago, we
bombed a factory in Sudan, a country so poor and so desperate for
investment that they are willing to overlook the source of those
investments. Sudan may, in that way, 'harbor terrorists,' but it is
hardly a Libya or an Iraq. We were told at the time of the bombings that
that factory made chemical weapons. Now, reports trickle out on back
pages and muttered under newscasters’ breaths that the factory may have
been making life-saving drugs after all, the only pharmaceutical
manufacturing plant in the entire country. Is bombing such a factory not
an abuse of power?"
We can imagine the disastrous effects of Third Way politics applied to
education -- a strategy we can expect from Gore if elected in 2000. If
we allow education to be jockeyed hither and yon according to the whims
of political pundits and their irresponsible polling practices, our
nation will suffer due to a lack of abilities in the information age.
Already we see the necessity of grabbing calculators out of the hands of
liberal grade school educators who find learning mathematical tables too
tedious for the youth of this nation. What else will Gore have in store
for education? Only the polls will tell.
Just as Republicans have observed Clinton bowing to conservative
viewpoints on the economy and the "welfare mentality," a strong
Republican candidate must now stand on these two issues and further
define education in conservative terms. The GOP must present a spokesman
as talented as Clinton to argue against Gore's predictable Third Way
This article copyright © 1998 by Sara McPeak, and may
not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its
author. All rights reserved.