It should be no surprise that George W. Bush is turning out to be one of the worst U.S. Presidents in memory, one who may be leading the country toward a financial debacle. When Mr. Bush was running for office, it was pointed out that he’d never been successful at any career he’d tried his hand at; all of his opportunities had been created for him by others, who were bound to him by family connections. And when he goofed, there was always some dark-suited fixer who could clean up his mess. The problem is that the mess Mr. Bush is now making involves the entire country and the world at large. And the men and women in dark suits surrounding him are not providing him with any balance.
As a chorus line of Democratic candidates jostle for the job of taking on Mr. Bush next fall, there may be one who seems to have what it takes to actually win and save the country from four more years of Mr. Bush’s stunning ineptitude. We’re talking, of course, about Wesley Clark.
As a candidate, he’s about as good as they get. The other Democratic hopefuls will have a hard time dimming the lights on General Clark’s résumé: a Southerner who was first in his class at West Point, a Rhodes scholar, wounded in combat in Vietnam, a recipient of the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, a general at the young age of 43, a distinguished military career in which he rose to be America’s top commander in Europe and NATO’s supreme military chief. When he was commanding NATO forces, General Clark created an alliance of 19 nations to join forces in the war in Kosovo-a stark contrast to Mr. Bush’s cowboy diplomacy in Iraq. The general is also said to be intensely competitive-“He is competitive drinking coffee with you,” said a senior State Department official-a quality which will be necessary to neutralize the President’s $170 million re-election campaign.
George Bush is clearly in way over his skill level. Running a country takes intelligence, judgment and occasionally wisdom. Instead, this President’s decisions fly in the face of logic and common sense. Rather than grappling with the very real problems facing America-a ballooning federal deficit, the threat of Islamic terrorism, a growing number of families living below the poverty line-he offers a risky tax cut and a foreign policy that gets us into a hugely expensive war with no exit strategy and that alienates our previously reliable allies. Rather than level with the American people and ask for sacrifices, he just recedes further into a land of make-believe, exhibiting the flawed character of a man who would choose to preserve his own popularity at the expense of the well-being of the country.
Where are the wise counselors who will save Mr. Bush from himself? Certainly not in his administration; there doesn’t appear to be anyone there with a smart economic bone in his or her body. And Mr. Bush’s foreign-policy advisers are still living under the outdated delusion that the U.S. can control nations and cultures with its might.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, George Bush has been hiding behind a false cloud of bravado and patriotism. If Wesley Clark becomes the Democratic nominee, he stands a good chance of calling Mr. Bush’s bluff and returning the country to a saner, wiser place.
A Foul Odor in Brooklyn
Why is Clarence Norman, newly indicted for allegedly misappropriating campaign funds, still running the Brooklyn Democratic Party?
This is a political organization, after all, which apparently is concerned about its image, according to news reports. This sounds like a bad joke: Brooklyn Democrats worried about their supposedly pure image? Please. Maybe the local hacks have forgotten that the Gowanus Canal has nothing on the borough’s political clubhouses when it comes to foul odors. In any case, Mr. Norman remains in place as the chairman of the Kings County Democratic Committee, despite having been arraigned on felony misconduct charges on Oct. 10. Mr. Norman, who entered a plea of not guilty, was accused by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes of using his substantial campaign funds as a “personal piggy bank.” Even though Mr. Hynes was originally looking for a bigger coup-allegations that judgeships may have been for sale under Mr. Norman’s watch-the indictment as it stands hardly paints an admirable picture of the Brooklyn chairman.
You’d think that members of Mr. Norman’s organization would be mighty annoyed to hear that the chairman allegedly misused the party’s money on personal expenses. That money, after all, is supposed to be set aside so that the Brooklyn Democrats can funnel it to favored vendors, election-law attorneys and other political leeches. Instead, according to the indictment, it wound up in Mr. Norman’s hands.
But if you’re looking for outrage, look elsewhere. The Brooklyn Democrats are not embarrassed to have an indicted man as their leader. The public, which is less forgiving of political mischief, should demand that the Brooklyn Democrats replace Mr. Norman. While he is innocent until proven guilty, revelations about his tawdry affairs show that he is not fit to be in charge of an organized political party. His continued leadership would be a scandal. But perhaps some Brooklyn Democrats consider that a plus-part of their party’s tradition.
It’s hardly a secret that millions of baseball fans are rooting against the Yankees in their playoff series with the Boston Red Sox. The Sox, perennial runners-up to the Bronx Bombers, are the eternal underdogs, the team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1918, when Boston sold the Yanks a star pitcher named Babe Ruth.
So the Sox are something of a sentimental favorite, especially when they’re playing their archrivals from New York. But recent events have shown that the Yankees are the class of this series. In Game 3, Boston’s ace pitcher, Pedro Martinez, tried to decapitate Yankee outfielder Karim Garcia. Later, Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez overreacted when Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens threw a high fastball that didn’t come close to hitting him. During the ensuing brawl, the 31-year-old Mr. Martinez bravely threw 72-year-old Yankee coach Don Zimmer to the ground. It was a disgusting sight. And yet, the following day, it was Mr. Zimmer who apologized for charging in Mr. Martinez’s direction. There were no apologies forthcoming from the Red Sox organization.
Even Yankee-haters have to admit that Joe Torre’s team has exhibited nothing but class. The Red Sox and their fans, by contrast, have shown that they are neither the class of the field nor the feel-good team of this year’s baseball playoffs.
The real question is, if the Yanks win and play the Chicago Cubs, who will Hillary root for?