Question: Why was Bush so ill-prepared to challenge Gore’s argument
that the Republican tax cut would mostly benefit the richest 1 percent
of Americans? The argument was not new. Gore had been hammering away
with the 1 percent idea for quite some time. So the Republican campaign
staff knew about it but they didn’t provide their candidate with a
strong, effective argument against it. Why?
Maybe the reason has to do with mole suspect Mark McKinnon, whom the
Republicans hired to be their top media adviser. According to the
Drudge Report, McKinnon “got his political start by volunteering for a Texas Democrat’s 1984 Senate campaign, where he worked with political operatives James Carville and Paul Begala.”
Did anyone at Republican headquarters bother to check McKinnon’s resume? Juanita Yvette Lozano, McKinnon’s assistant who was filmed by a security camera at the Post Office sending an express package, graduated from a Democratic training program for activists in 1990. Speaking of moles, how McKinnon and Lozano managed to snooker the Bush people into hiring them is a question we’d all like an answer to. Believe it or not, the master copy of the videotape, as well as a confidential briefing book, were kept in McKinnon’s office. Why didn’t the Bush people hire some smart conservatives like yours truly, for example, who know how to argue against the likes of Al Bore?
The label on the Express Mail package received in Washington by Tom Downey, a former congressman and Gore supporter, corresponds to the time and date Lozano sent a package from the Austin Post Office. The package not only contained a video tape of Bush practicing for the debate but also a half-inch stack of documents and an unsigned note on plain white paper saying, “Here’s some material that might be helpful to you. I’ll call in a few days to see if you need anything else.” Was the note typed or handwritten? If it was the latter, it should be easy enough to check handwriting.
Lozano insists that she was returning a $19.99 pair of khaki pants McKinnon had bought and was returning to the Gap. But why would she send it by Express Mail at a cost of $11.75? And since she admits having sent an Express Mail package, she must have a receipt. McKinnon has also been spreading the idea that someone in the Bush camp deliberately sent the video as a dirty trick in order to embarrass the Gore campaign.
When Downey received the material, he called the FBI. Obviously he had to review the tape in order to know what was on it. So he knows its contents. He could have even made a copy of the tape as well as copied the documents in the package before turning them over to the FBI. Has he been in touch with Al Gore or someone else on the campaign staff?
Remember the couple in Florida, driving their car and recording a phone conversation between conservative Republican congressmen on cell phones? That tape also wound up in the hands of Democrats in Washington. This sort of spying seems to be routine among Democrats. But what this mole story tells us is that George W. Bush is surrounded by a bunch of amateurs who bring the enemy into the inner sanctum and actually pay him top money to advise the candidate. In fact, Newsweek of Oct. 9, has a picture of McKinnon coaching Bush as he was preparing for the debate. At least Gore can’t accuse Bush of being surrounded by a bunch of right-wing conservatives!
Apparently, the mole did a great job of coaching Bush, who was totally unprepared for Gore’s strongest and most repeated argument against the Bush tax plan. Where was the Bush research staff? Why didn’t they check Gore’s numbers? All Bush could say was that Gore was using “fuzzy” math. But it didn’t sound fuzzy to the people watching the debate. Gore repeated his assertions in unequivocal, authoritative terms and, because Bush could not come back and challenge Gore with figures of his own, it looked like Gore was right. The mole must have laughed in delight.
In preparation for the debate, Bush should have found out how many taxpayers make up that now infamous 1 percent, and how much they have all paid in taxes to the IRS. Then he should have spelled out how much lower everyone’s taxes would be under his tax plan. Then Bush should have explained what rich people do with their money besides pay taxes: they create charitable foundations, they invest in companies, they buy big ticket items that create jobs and keep certain industries going. In other words, the money of the rich is used productively. But would you expect a Democrat mole to suggest such arguments to Mr. Bush? He made Bush look as if everything he was doing was for the rich alone.
Meanwhile, Gore has fired the campaign staffer who boasted to a friend that there was a mole in Bush campaign headquarters. The poor idiot was not very good at keeping a secret. And I imagine that McKinnon and Lozano thought that the Bush people were so stupid that they’d never find out what was really going on. Indeed, we wonder if that was the first package sent to the Democrats or that McKinnon and Lozano are the only moles in the Bush campaign.
Our advice to the Bush campaign is not to characterize Gore’s math as fuzzy but as lies — and do the research to give substance to the accusation. We now know that Gore lied about being in Texas with FEMA during the floods. He also lied about the girl in a Sarasota high school who had to stand in her chemistry class because there were no more seats in her crowded classroom. It turns out that the classroom was crowded with crates of new equipment for the chemistry lab and that the situation lasted only one day. And we’ve also learned that the
can-collecting grandma from Iowa has a rich son quite willing to pay for his mother’s prescription drugs.
It seems that Gore has this compulsion to twist reality to conform to his political needs. In other words, he’s a congenital liar. Do we need another one of those in the White House? Gore came across as pushy, smarmy and rude — a know-it-all — robotic in his repetition of the same phrases over and over again. Will the electorate buy his snake-oil?
In stark contrast, Bush came across as honest, decent, self-effacing and affable. He is far more likable than Gore. He’s also kinder. He believes in protecting the unborn from being killed and he is concerned about the elderly. He appears to have good instincts.
Meanwhile, we hope he can find some good conservatives to replace the moles.