Sunday, August 13, 2000

Be fair

Equal abuse for Al Gore

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There's a national shortage of invective. The pejorative supply is almost tapped out and caustic, mocking cynicism is as scarce as $2 gas. It must be time for the Democratic convention.

        It happens every four years. The press swarms all over the Republican convention like ants covering a sticky lollipop. No matter how much sugar the GOP puts on a stick, the ant colony makes it look so creepy-crawly the rest of us can hardly stand to look.

        But by the time the Democrats throw a picnic a few weeks later, the ants have lost their appetite.

        It's not bias.
Can't be. Ask the 90 percent of reporters who voted for Clinton twice and they will say, “We are completely objective in the way we cover scary right-wing extremist fundamentalist Republicans.”

        They don't mean to be unfair and give Democrats a pass. They're just a quart low on skepticism.

        Not me. After two weeks on the beach, I'm rested and ready to point out all the moldy nuts, rat hair, red dye and chemical additives in the Democrats' gooey candy bar. It's right there on the label that Al Gore has stuck onto George W. Bush.

        When Mr. Bush picked Dick Cheney, 59, the Democrats and obliging mediacrats called him an “old guard” geezer and extreme right-winger who ducked the war in Vietnam.

        So what about the old coot Mr. Gore picked? Sen. Joe Lieberman is 58 — just a year less senile than Mr. Cheney. He gets 80 percent ratings as a liberal extremist from Americans for Democratic Action, and as far as I can tell, the closest he came to the military is the Senate Armed Services Committee.

        I think Mr. Lieberman is a better candidate for president than Mr. “no controlling legal authority” Gore. But the way he is being sanctified as a “centrist” of “integrity” and “conscience” is harder to swallow than ants on baloney.

        His name has appeared next to the word “moral” more times than “Clinton” has appeared next to “Lewinsky.” All because he was the first Democrat to say what was nauseatingly obvious: Bill Clinton was a disgrace.

        Good for Sen. Lieberman for saying it. But his gleaming “conscience” medal was tarnished when he later admitted he did it to give cover to other Democrats. And where was all that integrity when it was time to show the courage of his convictions? Mr. Lieberman scorched Mr. Clinton's X-rated porn presidency as “irresponsible and immoral” and said it “raised serious questions about his judgment and his respect for the high office he holds.”

        Then he voted to let him off the hook. Not exactly a profile in courage.

        So the next time Mr. Lieberman says he wants Al Gore to be president, reporters should ask why he didn't vote for that when he had a chance to boot Mr. Clinton and give the job to Mr. Gore.

        Or maybe someone will ask how Mr. Lieberman reconciles his deep faith as an orthodox Jew with his nearly flawless record of voting for abortion, including the most grisly method that dismembers babies just a breath away from birth.

        But don't hold your breath. The press corps is exhausted and ready for a nap during the Democratic Party/NEA/AFL-CIO/UAW convention.

        The same pundits who said it was “tacky” for Mr. Bush to mention his faith will yawn and applaud Mr. Gore for making religion a bigger campaign issue.

        The same talking heads who can't stop carping on Mr. Bush's family connections won't connect the dots when Democrats preach about Saint John of Kennedy.

        The watchdogs who snarled at “fat cats” in Philadelphia won't bark at the Democrats' cash cows in L.A.

        They're worn out. And I can see why. The Free Ride for Gore has hardly begun, and I'm tired of it already.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.