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Tuesday, March 30, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 119

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Guilt by association
Clinton will cause Dems the 2000 election

R. Alex Whitlock

Scandal after scandal, lie after lie and unanswered question after unanswered question, President Clinton has seemingly survived an endless barrage of attacks and moral failures his entire political career. Through it all, everyone around him has suffered so that he could persevere.

His former Lt. Governor and later successor Jim Guy Tucker is in jail. Susan McDougal is in jail. The list goes on and on. The final victim: the Democratic Party.

How do I figure? After all, it's the Republicans that are "in trouble" and they got the brunt of the negative emotions after the whole impeachment affair was over.

While true, a lot of good came to the Republican Party because of Clinton. First of all, they have a Speaker of the House that the press won't kick around. Secondly, there is for the first time serious talk within the GOP about how much more important it is that they win the presidential election in 2000 than it is they nominate someone ideologically "pure."

They have learned the lesson the Democrats learned after losing three consecutive elections with liberals like Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis: even a moderate in your own party is better than the selection of another party.

On the congressional side of 2000, it is possible that the public will remember their actions in 1998 when the elections roll around, but who's going to remind them? I'm sure the Democrats won't score any points for bringing up the year that everyone wants to forget.

Having spent time in both Democratic and Republican circles, I have noticed a distinct change in their outlooks: Republicans, despite their defeat, are incredibly energized and optimistic. Democrats, despite their victory, are curiously demoralized and worn out.

The Republicans are rallying around Governor Bush and Elizabeth Dole for 2000. The Democrats are almost locked in with a more specific victim of the Clinton affair: Al Gore.

To be sure, Gore is unfairly paying the price for Clinton's sins. His poll numbers have been falling steadily since the President's admission of inappropriate conduct.

Besides Clinton, who will be fading away by 2000, the Democrats lack leadership and it increasingly looks like Vice-President Gore will be unable to motivate the party or the voters.

If Gore's numbers continue to fall, many Democrats will sit out the 2000 election and choose not to vote. This will undoubtedly affect the congressional elections and negate the disadvantage the Republicans have with those that will not forget what happened in 1998.

For those of you who doubt it, consider all the Democrats who stayed home because of Bush's invincibility, costing John Sharp and Paul Hobby their bids for lower offices.

On the other hand, there may be a certain amount of poetic justice in 2000. With Al Gore's certain nomination (no vice president to run for the nomination has ever lost since 1952; Quayle will be the first) and increasingly probable defeat in the general election, it may just cost the Democrats the one thing they sold their soul to retain in 1998.

After all of the Democrats foolishly lined up to protect the president, many of them never liked to spite the accusers whom they like even less (the GOP). They may cost themselves the presidency.

If they would have just let President Clinton go, Gore would have had the incumbency in 2000 and would very likely have won his office back in this political period that can only be dubbed "The Age of the Incumbent." To Mr. Gore: an apology.

To the Democrats: learn the hard lesson of what loyalty to Clinton gets you.


 
Whitlock, a sophomore information systems technology major,
can be reached at rwhitloc@bayou.uh.edu.
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