The issue: Contest for the White House
Our opinion: By experience, ability, policy preferences and, yes, character,
Bob Dole is a much better candidate to lead the nation into the 21st century.
Ignoring the web of deceit and the smell of scandal that surrounds his
administration, President Clinton keeps repeating his tiresome talk about being
a bridge to the 21st century.
It is, in fact, just one more example of his camouflaging reality with
rhetoric. The bridge he is selling is an illusion. The future of prosperity he
says it leads to is delusion.
Bob Dole, the Republican challenger, is the one with all the necessary
qualifications to lead this great nation to a great future in the 21st century.
He does not need a bridge. His feet are on solid ground.
At this point let us dismiss the presidential candidacies of Texas
billionaire Ross Perot, consumer activist Ralph Nader, and a host of others.
The contest is really only between Democrat Clinton and Republican Dole.
Four years ago, Clinton ran as a "new" Democrat. But, after he won, his true
inclinations were quickly visible in that crumbled monument to statism, his
plan to "reform" the way health care is delivered in this country. Now he is
embracing the political center again, but the record pretty much says this is
an embrace of expedience.
Dole, driven by political circumstances of his own, has veered to the right.
But he cannot be comfortable there; if he is elected, expect him to return to
moderate conservatism, where the vast majority of the American voters today
stands. He is with them.
The President keeps pointing to the economy as a sterling accomplishment of
his. The Republicans are needlessly denying the fact that the economy is in
pretty good shape.
It is true that millions of new jobs have
been created. It is true that inflation is
low. It is true that the annual federal
budget deficits have been declining. It is
true that the stock market keeps reaching new highs.
What is not true is that this is all Clinton's doing. A Republican Congress
in Washington, D.C., and Republican governors all over the country, like Jim
Edgar of Illinois, have played a major role. Credit must also go to some
Democratic governors, like Evan Bayh of Indiana. And don't forget that most
powerful unelected Republican, Chairman Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve
Board. Without his largely invisible but firm hand, Clinton might not have had
much to brag about.
What is also open to serious question is whether this run of good luck can
continue for another four years if Clinton is re-elected. Dole's economic plan,
including his proposal for a 15 percent cut in individual income tax rates and
50 percent cut in the capital gains tax rate, seems more likely to succeed in
giving the economy the kind of tonic it would need beginning next year and well
into the next century.
A reduction in taxes, as happened during the Kennedy-Johnson presidencies,
would put money into the hands of the people instead of the federal government,
and that money would be spread everywhere, creating successive waves of growth
in prosperity. This, in turn, would produce significant increases in tax
revenues not only to offset the tax cuts but also to help eliminate budget
Clinton, on the other hand, not only would retain a strong role for the
federal government, with all the adverse consequences the country has become
all too familiar with, he also seems intent on postponing solutions to tough
problems. His modest tax cuts would expire in 2002, but his tax increases would
continue, as would the renewed upward surge of annual budget deficits. His
philosophy is: after the second term, the deluge.
And deluge it will be if the thorny problems of keeping Social Security and
Medicare solvent and taming the deficit are not addressed honestly and
On foreign policy, Clinton as president has not been as consistent or tough
as he was when running for the White House in 1992. There have been flip-flops
on Bosnia and coddling of China; Saddam Hussein's repressive regime is stronger
in Iraq; relations with Britain, France, Russia and Canada need repair, and
most of the countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe have been angered
because of Washington's election-year crusade to oust U.N. Secretary-General
And the character issue. We are not even talking about the personal and
political scandals Clinton left behind in Arkansas from his days as governor.
We are talking about the dark clouds hanging over the White House in the form
of allegations of Whitewater coverup, patronage-prompted firing of the staff of
the travel office, missing FBI files, tainted campaign money, etc.
For those who prefer to avert their eyes from character issues because such
issues have to do with personal life, not public office, we ask: What is the
difference now? How long can you avert your eyes?
In an ironic way, this year's situation is reminiscent of 1972. Richard
Nixon, the consummate politician who won a narrow victory in 1968, was running
high in public opinion polls for re-election - despite a strong smell of
scandal. He smashed the hapless George McGovern, his Democratic challenger, on
Election Day. Then, after having astonished the nation with his assertion that
he was not a crook, he resigned in disgrace in August 1994.
In the 1972 election, however, McGovern's own far-left views were also a
factor in Nixon's landslide victory. A large number of voters, including
traditional Democrats, felt he was not a viable choice. This year, in Dole, a
man of accumulated wisdom, precious experience, tested leadership and sterling
character, the country does have a solid choice.
For the sake of the country, that choice should be taken. We urge our
readers to ignore the opinion polls and vote for Bob Dole.