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WASHINGTON — America’s a nation of winners, always has been. We work
to win and even play to win. When we’re not getting on top or getting
rich, we’re getting in the end zone.

That winning attitude earned us our independence, freed the slaves,
whipped Tojo and Hitler and swept the Evil Empire into the dustbin of
history. We’re the last remaining superpower. We’re also the biggest
economy — still. Only now we can also boast the world’s most productive
workers.

And, oh, how we love a winner. Losers are discarded like yesterday’s
trash. To the victor go the parades, the endorsements, the book
contracts, the White House, whatever the reward. As it should be.

But is it just me, or has something changed? Didn’t we take a more
romantic view of winners in the past? They didn’t have to be perfect, or
even heroic. But they couldn’t be cheats, and certainly not criminals.

Take boxing champs, for starters. Muhammad Ali may have dodged the
draft (and paid for it), but he never raped a beauty queen or
cannibalized a foe in the ring (only to be rewarded later with more
matches, more billboards, more pay-per-view deals, more fans and more
money).

Or football greats. Many people, to this day, side with O.J. Simpson,
the Heisman winner, even though anyone with a pulse could grasp his
guilt based on the scientific evidence, which without a logical doubt
showed he stabbed and slashed to death two innocent people in cold
blood. But hey, “Juice” still looks like a winner tooling around
in that golf cart, doesn’t he?

Then there are the politicians. Polls show Bill Clinton still has
lots of fans as well.

I have no doubt that if he could run again as president, he’d garner
a healthy share of the vote — despite serious and credible proof he’s a
rapist, a perjurer and a terrorist against the very people he swore to
protect. He abuses the awesome power voters
entrusted in him by having concerned private citizens investigated,
audited, smeared in the press, threatened with jail and even jailed.

Doesn’t matter. By today’s warped standards, Clinton is still viewed
as a winner. He won several elections in Arkansas. He took the White
House in 1992 and again in 1996, the first Democrat to do that since
FDR. He beat the impeachment rap, now the Filegate rap. He even won a
war without having to use a single body bag. And the robo-president just
keeps going … and going … and. …

In our new, promiscuous love affair with winners, we don’t care who
they are, how they act, what they stand for or how they win — just so
long as they win and keep winning.

Won by lying? OK, just deny you lied — and be sure to smile whenever
you do it. Won by cheating? Hey, it worked, didn’t it? Won by breaking
the law? Sure, just stonewall investigators till after the next
election. Won by selling out the country? Uh, don’t want to know. Just
tell me the score.

Judging from recent primary results, our blind obsession with winners
isn’t fading.

Al Gore shut out Bill Bradley, the more honest and decent candidate
in the Democratic race. Why? Voters know Gore will do anything and say
anything to get elected in November. They know he plays to win, even if
it means playing dirty and trampling on the truth.

You see, it doesn’t bother the millions of politically active,
well-informed people who voted for Gore in the primaries that he’s an
accomplished phony, brown-nose, liar and shakedown artist (and was so
long before he hooked up with Clinton). No, all that matters is that he
can win.

Those who counted Gore out last year, when he trailed George W. Bush
by embarrassing margins in national polls, have now realized they
underestimated him — or at least his win-at-any-cost attitude. Gore’s
now running neck and neck with de facto GOP nominee Bush.

Your politics aside, the fact that someone as dirty as Gore is even
in the White House, let alone competitive in a national race for
president, proves my point that, over the last decade or so, we’ve put
winning above dignity, honor, decency, honesty, the law and even
country.

Our ancestors, who gave their lives to win epic battles against evil,
would be mortified to witness such crass expediency. We are all losers
for choosing such immoral winners.

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