And now for Gore?

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Sat Sep 5 09:06:30 PDT 1998

> From this side of the Atlantic it looks as if the Democratic
> Party has just cracked.

The split, such as it is, is not ideological. It's organizational. The White House and Administration have an interest in propping up Clinton, since their jobs and possibly freedom from incarceration are intertwined.

The Congressional Dems are more ambivalent. On the one hand, the scandal hurts them by association with Clinton in some places. It also dominates public debate and prevents development of national issues that could give them a chance of regaining control of the House. Clinton has been criticized as much by liberals as by his own ideological kin in the Senate (e.g., Lieberman, Kerrey, Moynihan). In addition, Gebhardt and Wellstone have an interest in keeping Clinton in the WH because it blocks the elevation of Gore, which would make him harder to beat in primaries. The one with the greatest interest in Clinton leaving is Gore, but he is prevented from saying as much.

Patrick B. is wrong that Clinton has eviscerated the liberals. Liberal policies, yes. Liberal candidates for Congress have done pretty well the last two times around. The top House Dems are Gephardt, Bonior, and Barney Frank, all pretty liberal on economic issues. The ones who got shellacqued were the centrist 'new Democrat' types, Clinton's own kin. that's why the DLC (centrists) have been making overtures to labor and liberals; they realize they're not happening and they need us. So far they haven't offered any concessions, except in the realm of labor law reform.

> . . .
> I have been impressed but also a little surprised at the
> forebearance of US
> contributors to discuss Clinton. Why gossip about what was obvious? I
> presume was the feeling. Plus a sense that while you would not want to
> campaign for him, he was better than his predecessors, and than his
> political attackers. But is there also a reluctance to discuss such
> differences openly for fear of backing a bourgeois party?

Our discussion of this will no bearing on the elections, or likely anything else. The obviousness is a big factor.

An interesting question is whether the left ought to come out asking Bill to resign. At this point, it's not clear to me that this would be more hurtful than helpful in the upcoming elections.

We're now looking on the one hand at the possibility of a Dem comeback in the House, regaining control, or at the other of 'veto- proof' majorities for the GOP. The latter would, I'm afraid, usher in a set of new policies which would make us nostalgic for Newt's Contract with America. We'd get a flat tax, Medicaid and Food Stamps would go the way of AFDC, etc. etc.

> . . .
> So I want to ask questions about Gore. It seems possible that one factor
> maintaining Clinton's political position has been that as long as the
> economy holds up, the Republicans may not have wanted to move in for the
> kill. They would rather not have to fight an incument president
> at the next election. But for Democrats at a certain pain threshold, the
calculation becomes different.> . . .

The Republicans definitely prefer a crippled Clinton to two years of Gore. Another upside of a Gore ascension is that he would probably tilt more to the left in order to secure his left flank against a Gephardt campaign and to lock up labor endorsements. His lack of enthusiasm for Social Security privatization reflects this.

> Without imagining that he will end capitalism is it possible to analyse
> some of the issues around Gore? We know little of him in England
> apart from his 1992 book "Earth in the Balance"

Your quotes from Gore are interesting, but Clinton's a pretty smart guy too. Their environment matters more than their innards, I would say. This can be good or bad, depending on the environment, which right now is not good, as everybody can see.

Gore may have a more right-wing posture relative to Clinton, but with less variance around the mean, so to speak, in contrast to Clinton's enormous lurches to the right in selected cases. Among Dems, there are worse people imaginable, such as Bob Kerrey.


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