Here's the ticket: Tsongas-Rudman

April 16, 1992

Paul Tsongas, erstwhile Democratic candidate for president from Massachusetts, and Warren Rudman, soon-to-retired Republican senator from New Hampshire, say they may team up. That does not -- repeat not -- mean they are running as a new-fangled bipartisan national ticket for president and vice president. Too bad. If they shared the same platform, these two politicians would talk so much economic sense that voters would suffer from an overdose. After all, as Senator Rudman has observed, Americans are used to being lied to.

Political common wisdom confirms that an independent Tsongas-Rudman ticket is an impossibility. Even more than having a Texas billionaire reckon as how he might try to buy the presidency for a paltry $100 million. Ross Perot can afford it; Paul Tsongas and Warren Rudman cannot.

So what are these New England iconoclasts up to? So far all they profess is a common impulse for "doing something together" on behalf of responsible economic policies. Mr. Tsongas said he stands for "fiscal discipline" and Mr. Rudman said he stands for "fiscal integrity" when they co-starred on CBS's "Face the Nation" last Sunday. Coming from most politicians, such statements could be passed off as humdrum boilerplate. Coming from the Messrs. Tsongas and Rudman, they resonate with a sincerity that is downright unsettling

In his now-abandoned campaign for the White House, Mr. Tsongas told Democrats they can't be anti-business and pro-jobs at the same time. He dismissed congressional leadership proposals for a middle-class tax cut as a form of "pandering," just about the harshest epithet in the Tsongas vocabulary. He said Americans have to face up to tough times and lower living standards if the nation is to be saved from economic decline. Mr. Rudman, in announcing he will leave the Senate, warned that unless runaway medical and retirement entitlement programs are "means-tested" -- in other words, cut back for the affluent -- the government faced unending deficits.

Since there is absolutely no hope for a Tsongas-Rudman presidential bid, we would like to suggest how they should "team up" -- at least for starters. Let them form a new-fangled bipartisan truth squad. Let them trail after the likes of George Bush and Bill Clinton (and maybe Ross Perot) to give instant, utterly candid appraisals of what comes out of their mouths. It could be enlightening. It most certainly would be amusing. And it might encourage candor in place of claptrap.

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