Wednesday, August 09, 2000

It's time for the political games

        Last week I was in Philadelphia — which my luggage enjoyed so much it stayed an extra day — at the Republican love fest/infomercial/lets-sound-like-Democrats convention, but the political news goes on.


        God help them. The Associated Press reported that in their first act as the Democrats' presidential ticket Al Gore and Joe Lieberman prayed.

        Good move. This pair is going to need all the help it can get.

        Mr. Gore, who will accept his party's nomination at next week's Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, has tapped Mr. Lieberman for one apparent reason — he is the anti-Clinton.

        Mr. Lieberman, a 12-year U.S. Senate veteran from Connecticut, made national news and probably secured a modest place in history by breaking party ranks during the Lewinsky scandal and slapping around Bill Clinton, calling the president's behavior “disgraceful” and “embarrassing.”

        Mr. Gore is clearly looking for cover from what the Republicans will throw at him between now and Election Day. The GOP will, at every turn, try to link Mr. Gore to the scandals of Mr. Clinton. So Mr. Gore taps a running-mate who not only knocked Mr. Clinton but generally has the mantle of being the conscience of the Senate.

        Mr. Lieberman has a squeaky-clean image and the aura of maturity, a man of sage wisdom and high moral character. And by picking Mr. Lieberman, the first Jewish person on a presidential ticket, the Democrats show they truly are the Big Tent party.

        Mr. Lieberman's selection does give Mr. Gore's campaign some badly needed focus and direction.

        And voters may tire quickly — as they did during the impeach ment proceedings — of hearing about Mr. Clinton's sex life and how bad he has been for the country.

        But is Mr. Lieberman really nothing more than a vehicle for Mr. Gore to distance himself from Mr. Clinton?

        On issues that include school vouchers and investing a portion of Social Security taxes in the stock market, Mr. Lieberman is actually with Mr. Bush rather than Mr. Gore.

        Let's get nasty. Forget all those sappy speeches you heard during the GOP convention about a positive presidential campaign. State Republican Party Vice Chairman Damon Thayer expects an all-out political war this fall and he, naturally, blames the Democrats, though both parties will surely partake.

        “I expect the most mean-spirited, negative, fraudulent attacks we've ever heard,” Mr. Thayer said. “These people are desperate, bad people.”

        Yep, the gloves are off. Let the swingin' begin.

        Face time. Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd headed out to western Kentucky over the weekend to attend his first Fancy Farm political picnic.

        Mr. Murgatroyd has been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate for statewide or congressional office. Fancy Farm is noted for its opportunity to give ambitious pols face time with party activists and leaders.

        “I just wanted to see what it was like,” Mr. Murgatroyd said. “I've never been there, so it was fun. But I'm not looking at any other race other than the judge-executive's race in 2002.”

        Right. And I attended the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States dinner during the GOP convention last week just for the food.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for the Enquirer. He can be reached at 578-5581, or (502) 875-7526 in Frankfort.