Gore's Plunge in the Polls
By Sara McPeak
Al Gore is lagging behind this month in the presidential contender
polls. The spin from Gore's camp blames the historical lame-duck
doldrums, which they say occur halfway through any second-term
administration and relate to both the prez and veep. But doesn't their
March spin conflict with the February high approval rating spin that
convinced Democrat Senators to vote an acquittal for Bill Clinton? And
wouldn't the supposed high approval rating for this administration
relate to both the prez and the veep?
A more obvious and much more logical reason for Gore's lag in the
presidential contender polls relates to public perception of his agenda
and of Gore himself. This perception has been formed over the last six
years as the public watched a myriad of mistakes, inconsistencies and
abuses by the Clinton administration, which by definition includes Al
Gore. And Gore assumed a very solid part in these exploits (remember
it's not about sex) by defending Clinton's actions as well as his own
throughout this erratic term.
Gore is lagging in the polls because both his upcoming agenda and he,
himself, are large targets for Republican candidates who can support
their own potentially workable agenda items by merely contrasting them
with Clinton/Gore shortcomings. Dan Quayle, a candidate whose popularity
is on the rise, and Bill Kristol, his former domestic affairs advisor
and chief of staff, recently found that when targeting Gore, the slings
and arrows actually stick!
On March 17 Quayle shot a hole through Gore's record on crop insurance
and risk management tools for farmers: "Although they have repeatedly
promised to address this agriculture crisis, Bill Clinton and Al Gore
have failed to make any real effort to protect farmers from devastating
crop losses. We all know Al Gore puts 'global warming' ahead of
agriculture, and including 100 million dollars for global warming and
nothing for crop insurance proves it." Quayle struck at the modus
operandi of this administration, i.e., the constant broken promises and
placement of personally important issues ahead of the public good. This
strengthens Quayle's image at the same time that it denotes his agenda
and reveals Gore's inconsistencies.
The same day Quayle made his attack on behalf of American farmers, Gore
was suggesting to Iowa farmers that he spent his youth in the same types
of fields and confinement lots the farmers know so well. Is this the
same Al Gore who grew up in Washington? Also that same day, Alvin
Woodward of the AP quoted Kristol's reaction to Gore's belief that he
created the internet: "Earnest boastfulness does not play well...
certain gaffes hurt when they fit a stereotype... I think Gore's comment
taking credit for the internet is an example of that. I think it's a
damaging gaffe because it reinforces something out there." Could that
"something out there" be that Gore is prone to lying? Is he mimicking
Clinton's behavior? And is it possible that Americans are refusing to
continue to condone this behavior?
The polls certainly could be a sign that the electorate is very
concerned about the formulation of a viable international policy for the
year 2000. The Clinton administration has fallen flat on this aspect of
their agenda. The issue regarding China has recently become a potential
thorn in the side in what Gore calls his campaign "vision." Republican
candidates will find the China question an easy target in Gore's
upcoming vision. The emerging story that this administration tried to
prevent Congress from learning about Chinese espionage is a frightening
saga on Clinton/Gore credibility in the areas of security and defense.
The crux of the China matter hinges on the trade issue vs. national
security, morality and possible communist aggression. Republican
candidates can quickly shed their outdated mantle of big business
enthusiasts by offering a contrast to Clinton's Chinese policy -- a
policy founded upon potential business and campaign contribution
profitability. Republicans can turn instead to restricting trade with
China based on security and moral issues.
Gore will continue to sink in the polls as long as responsible policies
of Republican candidates, such as Quayle's, are juxtaposed with the
obvious failures of the Clinton/Gore term.
This article copyright © 1999 by Sara McPeak, and may
not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its
author. All rights reserved.