The first debate is over, and Bush came out quite all right. It
wasn’t a rip-roaring victory, but it was enough of a victory. The only
thing Bush couldn’t adequately answer was Gore’s repeated assertion that
the Bush tax plan would give the 1 percent richest people in America the
biggest tax break. Gore hammered away at that point even though the
question that Jim Lehrer asked had nothing to do with the subject. And
that idea will remain in people’s minds until Bush provides an adequate
answer. What Bush could have said is that that same 1 percent pays
something like 40 percent of the taxes collected by the IRS, and that it
is only fair to let them keep more of their money.
Gore played the class-warfare, rich-poor envy card to the hilt. His
face kept reshaping itself after each word. It was like watching a
plastic doll have an epileptic fit. Gore said nothing new. He
reiterated everything he’s been saying since the convention. Bush on
the other hand offered a vision of the future in that Washington would
have less to say about our lives. He talked of people taking
responsibility, of giving young people a chance to make their own
investments for retirement.
All the talk about school testing was dry and uninteresting. Gore
dragged out the lady from Iowa who collected cans to help pay for her
prescription drugs. Whose fault is that? It’s the Clinton
administration’s fault. Where have they been during the last seven and
a half years? Gore also told us that the lady from Iowa drove all the
way to Boston in her Winnebago with her poodle. A lady with a Winnebago
and a poodle doesn’t sound like a starving senior citizen who has to
pick up cans to pay for prescription drugs. How much does she pay for
grooming her poodle?
Gore was as boring as ever, mouthing the same boilerplate solutions
to America’s problems. When Bush pointed out that the Gore program
would require 20,000 more bureaucrats in Washington, Gore replied that
his reinventing government program had cut the number of bureaucrats by
some huge number. Since nobody knows how many bureaucrats there are in
Washington, Gore can get away with anything.
What Bush projected was mildness of manner, a clear command of his
agenda, and a kind of thoughtfulness that was quite appealing. He was
selling common sense, while Gore was selling snake oil. Oily is a
perfect description of Gore, and his plastic face goes well with that
Bush was successful in drawing a clear distinction between
philosophies of government. He spoke of his trust of the people to spend
their own money in ways they knew best, while it was clear that Gore
believes in bigger nanny government. Also, Bush made it clear that he
is pro-life, and Gore affirmed his total devotion to a woman’s legal
right to destroy her unborn child. These are clear enough differences
between the two candidates. Gore is in the pocket of what Rush Limbaugh
calls the “feminazis.”
On the issue of choosing Supreme Court judges, Bush said that he
would appoint men who would uphold a more literal view of the
Constitution, men who would not turn the court into a legislature. Gore
said he would appoint judges who would uphold Roe v. Wade.
On the matter of energy needs, Bush was quite clear that we have to
find more energy resources in our own vast territory, including the far
reaches of Alaska in order to be less dependent on OPEC. Bush was more
concerned about the needs of the consumer, while Gore, radical
environmentalist, argued that it is more important to preserve a huge
area of Arctic Alaska as a beautiful scenic refuge, which few Americans
will ever have the occasion to visit. Besides, all there is up there is
ice. What we’ve learned from the Alaskan pipeline is that the animals
love it because it gives off some warmth.
Gore talked of new technologies to conserve energy. We’ve all heard
about solar panels, windmills, and electric cars. None of that is new.
The reason why they’ve been slow in development is because they are so
much more expensive and less effective than gas and oil. Alternatives
will be developed when oil and gas become permanently more expensive
than the alternatives. Meanwhile, our economy runs on oil, and blasting
Big Oil is ridiculous since it is only Big Oil that has the resources to
find oil in remote places like the Arctic Circle and off-shore and bring
it to market.
It is so obvious that Gore’s going after Big Oil and the drug
companies that produce their miracle drugs is intended to create
hostility against capitalism and its market functions. This is quite in
keeping with Gore’s socialist views. Gore plays on the fears of the
elderly. He claims that he is going to fight for them against the big
interests. Is that the job of the president of all Americans to fight
the most productive sector of our economy? The “big interests” include
anybody who has a stake in what Congress and the President do that may
Democrats will claim the debate to have been a hands-down victory for
Gore. Republicans will congratulate Bush for having done a dignified,
creditable job. He offered no verbal pyrotechnics to wow the
electorate, but he offered some interesting new ideas. Gore, on the
other hand, had nothing new or interesting to offer. Throwing more
money at the public schools, advocating smaller class size, training
more teachers is stale rhetoric that goes down like 10-day-old bread.
We’ve been hearing that broken record from educators for the last forty
years, and Gore is the NEA’s dog, trained to repeat the trick.
It was a very dull debate. The only thing that made it interesting
was watching to see how Bush handled it. He did OK.