The mocking of a president, 1996 Rhetoric: Speakers at the Republican National Convention were not shy about insulting Bill Clinton. Will the Democrats resist temptation to take the low road?

The Political Game

August 20, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

THE REPUBLICANS achieved this much: They put a little drama into the Democrats' conclave next week in Chicago.

Will Dems turn the other cheek? If so, they would be running

against the grain of inside political wisdom: Nice guys usually fall in the polls.

New thinking, however, suggests that slinging dirt also hurts. So what will it be, high road or low?

High, insists the president.

But it would be so un-Democratic to shackle speakers the way the other guys did. And the temptations will be great.

If Clinton was vulnerable to GOP mockery for past comments on how long it should take to balance the budget, can Dole be made to look equally ridiculous with old quotes about the folly of candy-store tax cuts or about his vice presidential running mate and occasional opponent, Jack Kemp?

One wonders if anything can be more surreal than interviews with spin doctors talking openly in front of the spinees about the "new" image they hope to impart, not just for their candidate, but for their party as a whole.

To look more egalitarian, the ringmasters dictated the scripts. Colin Powell came off as absolutely revolutionary when he used the word "choose." Dole was presented as the most honest man in America even as he prepared to run on a tax cut platform that would have horrified him as a senator.

And what about the attack on Hillary's book, "It Takes a Village"? The title comes from African folk wisdom, but calls to mind American approaches to the well-being of children -- Boy Scouts, Little League and other nurturing activities.

E9 GOPs and Dems beware: What spins around comes around.

Glendening speaks on slots, racing, labor

Gov. Parris N. Glendening gave himself important running room last week when he vowed to veto any legislation to allow slot machine gambling in Maryland. That issue would have dominated the political environment and obscured other issues he wants to accentuate.

If he had it to do over again, he said in an interview later, he would not have given any hope to those who wanted the slots at state racetracks. "That was the crack in the door that people took advantage of," he said.

He had these further observations: For economic salvation, Maryland racing interests must look to their own stewardship.

"They haven't reached out to younger people. It's my understanding you see the graying of America at the tracks. And there's been little investment in plant facilities."

Business opposition to his order providing limited collective bargaining rights for state employees is "nonsense," he added. Without organized labor, he said, American workers would be getting Third World wages.

He said he accepts virtually all of the campaign fund-raising reform proposals being pushed by some legislators -- computerization of records, disclosure of contributors' occupations and banning lobbyists from raising money for statewide races as they are now barred from General Assembly campaigns.

Referring to state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., he said he was amused to see Assembly leaders who blocked reforms in the past now leading the charge to pass them.

Pub Date: 8/20/96

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