The Democrats’ new fractiousness

All the post-election talk about bipartisanship and cooperation ignores the fact that when the 104th Congress convenes in January, the president’s party will be dominated by men and women with no desire whatsoever to adjust to a new reality, reinvent their party or run around proclaiming themselves “new” Democrats.

The House Democratic caucus has been moved considerably to the left as a result of the Nov. 8 debacle, for the very simple reason that the survivors tended to come from safe, urban Northern districts or minority districts that send the most liberal representatives imaginable to Washington. Those who lost, on the other hand, were among the more moderate Democrats from the South or from rural and suburban areas where partisan realignment has been progressing rapidly.

The bottom line is that the Democratic Leadership Council -which, remember, was most recently chaired by Oklahoma’s now ex-Rep. Dave McCurdy – will have far less visibility and clout than the Congressional Black Caucus for the simple reason that numbers count for more than ideas. Pundits and the president himself can muse about the wisdom of moving right to accommodate the new majority on substantive issues like welfare reform or symbolic ones like school prayer, but when it comes right down to it, Mr. Clinton has to worry about the reaction of the Democratic base that remains.

In politics, a party can face an almost impossible crisis when its support drops below the critical mass needed to allow it to reach out beyond its core. As its support falls, only the purists remain, and they tend to demand that those they support take positions that make it more and more difficult to attract the non-purists.

The leadership of what remains will make any comeback more difficult by projecting an image of a party that is more liberal than ever and more dominated than at any time in recent memory by exclusionist minorities wedded to big government and the very solutions the public is rejecting in ever increasing numbers.

This is what is likely to plague the Democratic Party as Bill Clinton and his advisors begin analyzing the new political reality with which they will have to contend. Cooperation with Newt Gingrich and his buddies will outrage the new congressional core of his party, and the ensuing unrest will quickly spread to party activists out in the country who, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, don’t “quite understand” what the voters were trying to say on election day.

Unrest there will, in turn, stimulate opposition not only to the president’s programs, but should he persist to the president himself. He has to worry not only about re-election but renomination, and he has to know that every Democratic president since John Kennedy has faced intra-party opposition in seeking a second term.

The opposition has always come from the purists within the party and has been beaten back by a party establishment that has included congressional leaders, governors and local officials with ties through the national party to the White House. But many of those power centers are gone. Many of the governors, state legislators and other local establishment Democrats, who would historically be expected to bolster the power of an incumbent president, are gone -along with the voters who they could deliver for the candidate of their choice.

Consider Mr. Clinton’s dilemma if he is forced to face a liberal challenger enjoying the active support of Jesse Jackson and the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus in the south on Super Tuesday 1996. By that time, Mr. Clinton may be almost the only white Southern male still associated with his own party, and he’ll have to run in a primary completely dominated by liberal activists and blacks. If he presents himself as a new Democrat, he’s liable to get the same welcome Ralph Reed could expect at the editorial offices of the New York Times.

Even before the current election, Democrats in the Congress were at a loss as to how best to deal with the Black Caucus and its willingness to countenance the anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan and his ilk, who seem determined to drive the small but politically important Jewish vote out of any party with which they are associated.

Jewish voters remained largely loyal to the Democrats this year. But one has to wonder how they will react to a party increasingly dominated by elements hostile to protecting their interests and values, but willing to provide safe haven to their most virulent enemies.

In the past, Jewish voters have been held in line by a cultural antipathy to a party dominated by folks who, as Mike Barone of U.S. News & World Report puts it, wouldn’t let them into their country clubs. But the GOP, like the Democratic Party, is changing. The intellectual foundations of the new conservatism dominating the GOP were laid by Jewish intellectuals and activists like the lake Frank Meyer, Ben Stein, Victor Gold, Bill and Irving Kristol, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Michael Medved, Mona Charen, Don Feder and a host of others.

And now even the Christian right is working closely with Jewish groups like Rabbi Lapin’s Toward Tradition to overcome the cultural nervousness that has until now prevented a lasting political alliance from developing. As Jewish voters begin to realize that their continuing support of a Democratic party increasingly dependent on interests hostile to them, yet another traditional Democratic group of voters could fall away by 1996.

So Mr. Clinton finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He has few attractive options. Cooperation with the GOP and a recognition of what the voters were saying on Nov. 8 might help him in his quest for a second term by finally convincing Americans that he is, in fact, the New Democrat he professed to be in 1992. But to win a second term he must first be renominated by a party that has been forced to the left as a result of his failure to keep his promises in the first place.

And that could be a tall order.

Craig Shirley is a GOP consultant.

LOAD-DATE: November 23, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved

Inside the Conspiracy

President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have accused their political opponents of undertaking a “well-financed, well-coordinated campaign” to “smear them.” Indeed, Clinton has specifically cited a $ 1 million “slush fund” allegedly amassed by the GOP to “get” the Clintons.

As a lifelong political activist I was, of course, appalled. I thought I’d been part of every conservative conspiracy since we sicked that killer rabbit on Jimmy Carter back in ’79.

I immediately called David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and demanded to know, what was this “conspiracy thing?” And where could I sign up? Keene apologized and replied that it was simply an oversight; that, in fact, the “Get Clinton” conspiracy group was meeting that afternoon. “Come over,” he said.

What a pleasure it was to get together with Rush, G. Gordon, Ollie, The “Vig” (AKA Richard Viguerie), Buchanan, Floyd Brown, the staffs of the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the staffs of the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC, Pat Moynihan, Cliff Jackson, Newt, Al D’Amato, Ralph Reed, the Arkansas State Troopers, the Teamsters and other card-carrying members of the “Get Clinton” conspiracy.

We met in secret at RFK stadium. Keene called the meeting to order noting there was barely a quorum as every woman who Bill Clinton had the troopers approach was not present. Also missing were Bob Novak, who was off clubbing baby seals, and Bob Tyrrell, who was giving assault weapons and cocaine to nine year olds.

“Beginning with old business, let’s review what has been arranged by the Sub Task Forces on Whitewatergate, VinceFostergate, Fornigate, PaulaJonesgate, Travelgate, Hillarygate, HealthCaregate and HillaryRodhamClintonCommoditiesgate, Floyd, please give us your Report,” Keene said.

“Well David, we had great success in arranging for Robert Altman to hold three clandestine meetings in the White House to brief the staff on the RTC investigation into Madison Guarantee and Whitewater. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to persuade Mr. Altman that this course of action was all good for Clinton and that there was no downside in subverting the ‘Feds’ investigation. We then alerted the members of the Senate Banking Committee on these meetings.”

“Nice bait and switch, Floyd.”

“Thanks David.”

The group murmured its approval. “But really, the credit must go to good ol’ Jim McDougal when we met with him years ago and bribed him to bribe the Clintons into all those shady dealings. David, let me say you were wise to organize the ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy twelve years ago,” concluded Brown.

“Thank you Floyd. Let’s now hear from Richard Viguerie on the membership recruitment drive for our top secret ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy,” Keene said.

“Thanks Dave. We’ve so far been able to keep this under wraps although Sidney Rodham Blumenthal and some journalists have begun sniffing around. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t end up exposed like the JFK conspiracy and I’ve asked our friends with the FBI, the CIA, the WPA, the NSA, organized crime, the Pentagon, the Military Industrial Complex and the Salvation Army to not let this leak out like they did last time!

“So far, active dues-paying membership in our conspiracy is in the neighborhood of 73 million people, give or take a hundred thousand. But we’ve got to be careful. Clinton the other day said we had a $ 1 million dollar slush fund. As we all know, it’s now in excess of $ 1 billion dollars and stashed in accounts in the Caymen Islands and Switzerland. But it’s important to keep this quiet, David.”

“Thanks Richard.”

“Given our time constraint, I suggest the report on HillaryRodhamClintongate be moved up since we were so successful in getting the New Yorker magazine to get their reporter to get Betsy Wright to say they’re preparing Hillary for a presidential bid. Lets hear from (identity withheld) of the CIA on this.”

“Thanks David. Although the public poll numbers on Hillary have shown steady erosion of support, we all know that her approval rating according to our own surveys is actually 96 percent favorable. But we were able to buy off all the pollsters in America to get them to ‘cook’ bad numbers for Hillary. One of our best moves was to arrange for Hillary to start off 1992 with the ‘baking cookies’ comment. Some of our operatives were able to convince Clinton’s braintrust of Jim Carville and Paul Begala that if Hillary said this, it would appeal to the ‘man-hating-leftist-granola-crunching-strike-oriented caucus.'”

Keene said, “Given the lateness of the day, also put a motion on the table to delay the other reports until the next meeting — is there a second?”

Sen. Bob Kerrey seconded. The group unanimously passed the motion. As the group was breaking up, Recording Secretary Gennifer Flowers announced the time and place of the next board meeting. “It’s on the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument,” she said. “But don’t forget — it’s a secret.”

LOAD-DATE: October 11, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 Campaigns & Elections Publishing Corporation, LLC

The ‘Get Clinton’ meeting comes to order

President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have both accused their political opponents of undertaking a “well-financed, well-coordinated campaign” to “smear them.” Indeed, Mr. Clinton has specifically cited a $1 million “slush fund” allegedly amassed by Republicans and conservatives to “get” the Clintons.

As a lifelong political activist I was, of course, appalled. I thought I had been part of every conservative conspiracy since we sicced that killer rabbit on Jimmy Carter back in ’79.

I immediately called David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU) and demanded to know, as a board member of the ACU, what was up with this conspiracy thing. And where could I sign up? Mr. Keene apologized and replied that it was simply an oversight – that, in fact, the “Get Clinton” conspiracy group was meeting that afternoon. “Come on over,” he said.

What a pleasure it was to get together with Rush, G. Gordon, Ollie, the “Vig” (AKA Richard Viguerie), Pat Buchanan, Floyd Brown and Dave Bossie, the editorial staffs of The Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the staffs of the Republican National Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, Pat Moynihan, Cliff Jackson, Newt, Al D’Amato, Mike Isikoff, the Arkansas State Troopers Association, the Teamsters and other card-carrying members of the “Get Clinton” conspiracy. We met in secret at RFK stadium. Mr. Keene called the meeting to order, noting there was barely a quorum, as hardly any of the women Bill Clinton had the troopers approach was present. Also missing were Bob Novak, who was off clubbing baby seals, Bill Kristol, who was writing a memo, and Bob Tyrrell, who was giving assault weapons and cocaine to 9-year-olds. “Beginning with old business, let’s review what has been arranged by the Sub Task Forces on Whitewatergate, VinceFostergate, Fornigate, PaulaJonesgate, Travelgate, Hillarygate, HealthCaregate and HillaryRodhamClintonCommoditiesgate. Floyd, please give us your Task Forces’ Report,” Mr. Keene said.

“Well David, we had extraordinarily good success in arranging for Robert Altman to hold three clandestine meetings in the White House to brief the staff on the RTC investigation into Madison Guaranty and Whitewater. I can tell you it wasn’t easy, but I was finally able to persuade Mr. Altman that this course of action was all good for Mr. Clinton and that there was no downside in subverting the feds’ investigation. We then, of course, alerted the members of the Senate Banking Committee on his meetings at the White House.”

“Nice bait-and-switch, Floyd.”

“Thanks David.”

The group murmured its approval. “But really, the credit must go to good ol’ Jim McDougal when we met with him years ago and bribed him to bribe the Clintons into all those shady dealings. David, let me say you were wise to organize the ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy 12 years ago,” concluded Mr. Brown.

“Thank you Mr. Floyd. Let’s now hear from Richard Viguerie on the membership recruitment drive for our top secret ‘Get Clinton’ conspiracy,” Mr. Keene said.

“Thanks Dave. We’ve so far been able to keep this under wraps, although Sidney Rodham Blumenthal and some journalists have begun sniffing around. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t end up exposed like the JFK conspiracy, and I’ve asked our friends with the FBI, the CIA, the WPA, the NSA, organized crime, the Pentagon, the Military-Industrial Complex and the Salvation Army not to let this leak out like they did last time!

“So far, active dues paying membership in our conspiracy is in the neighborhood of 73 million people, give or take a hundred thousand. But we’ve got to be careful. Clinton the other day said we had a $1 million slush fund. As we all know, it’s now in excess of $1 billion and stashed in accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. But it’s important to keep this quiet, David.”

“Thanks, Richard. Given our time constraints, I suggest the report on Hillarygate be moved up, since we were so successful in getting the New Yorker magazine to get their reporter to get Betsy Wright to say they’re preparing Hillary for a presidential bid. So now, let’s hear from [identity withheld] of the CIA on this.”

“Thanks, David. Although the public poll numbers on Hillary have shown steady erosion of support, we all know that her approval rating according to our own surveys is actually 96 percent favorable. We were able to buy off all the pollsters in America to get them to ‘cook’ bad numbers for Hillary. But I think one of our best moves was to arrange for Hillary to start off 1992 with the ‘baking cookies’ comment. Some of our operatives were able to convince Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Paul Begala that if Hillary said this, it would appeal to the ‘man-hating-leftist-granola-crunching-strike-oriented-caucus.’ Also, our operative on her Health Care Task Force convinced her to write a plan that would anger almost everybody in America. Our work is proceeding, and we’ll have a full report at the next board meeting on the yeoman work done on Hillary by Red Bone.”

At this point, I leaned over to Newt and asked, “Tell me again how you convinced David Watkins that it was okay to take that helicopter.”

Mr. Keene said, “Given the lateness of the day, let me express the board’s many thanks to the College Republicans for arranging for that girl to ask Clinton the underwear question. That was a master stroke worthy of Donald Segretti. Let me also put a motion on the table to delay the other reports until the next board meeting – is there a second?”

I seconded.

“All in favor?”

The group unanimously passed the motion. As the group was breaking up, Recording Secretary Gennifer Flowers announced the time and place of the next board meeting: “It’s on the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. But don’t forget,” she said, “it’s a secret.”

Craig Shirley is a GOP consultant, lacrosse coach, and newly registered member of the “Get Clinton” Conspiracy Working Group.

LOAD-DATE: June 21, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved

Can GOP find unity in crime?

Political consultant Arthur Finkelstein theorized some years ago that the Republican Party was, in fact, made up of three separate and distinct parties with but one issue, anti-communism, holding them and thus the GOP together.

Those three parties were social conservatives as represented by Jesse Helms, economic conservatives as represented by Jack Kemp, and foreign policy-national defense conservatives as represented by Jeanne Kirkpatrick.

Each of those three factions could find differences with one or two of the others (and often did) but it was compelling opposition to oligarchic collectivism that held the party together and made it, for most of the 1970s and all of the 1980s, the political majority in America.

With the collapse of Soviet communism – some say, due to Ronald Reagan’s staunch policies – came the irony of the American voter in 1992 not having to consider for the first time in more than 40 years a presidential candidate’s ability to stand up to communist aggression, which played to Bill Clinton’s advantage and to George Bush’s detriment.

Many in the GOP remain firmly convinced that George Bush’s broken tax pledge and appearing to not care about the American economy led to his defeat. But it was also the collapse of communism that contributed to his loss in 1992.

The party today remains approximately the same. But due to the deterioration of the foreign policy wing of the GOP, the social conservatives, though not larger, seem more influential. This was witnessed by the 1992 Houston convention where the Bush campaign actually had a good foreign policy story to sell (to wit: Desert Storm) and a good economic story to tell but did not do so. The media and thus, the American people, came to believe that social issues were all the GOP was about.

Of compelling interest to the GOP today should be the effort by Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party to steal the crime issue, which, for Republicans, could become the new “anti-communism” and therefore the new glue to hold together the party, including the growing libertarian (read anti-big government) faction within the party.

Historically, crime has been a GOP issue. Democrats were seen in their alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union, their opposition to the death penalty, the defense of Vietnam protesters and the like, as being “soft on crime.” After all, Richard Nixon ran on “law and order” in 1968 and Ronald Reagan talked about freedom consistent with “law and order.”

The danger for Republicans is that Mr. Clinton is making progress on this issue. Call it cheap symbolism, but his anti-crime rhetoric is hitting home with people weary of crime and all its symptoms.

However, the GOP can bring this issue back home if it rejects the rhetoric of Sarah Brady, Mr. Clinton and others and take a page out of the book of George Allen’s campaign for governor of Virginia.

John McLaughlin, Mr. Allen’s campaign pollster, saw early last year in his polling that Mary Sue Terry, the Democratic nominee for governor and the sitting attorney general, would win the Virginia election unless that group of voters most concerned with crime could be convinced that the issue was not gun control but crime control

The research also indicated that voters saw her version of gun control, a waiting period, as ineffective, and Miss Terry’s strident attacks on the National Rifle Association as a gimmick. Further, they thought a five-day waiting period wouldn’t do anything to stop crime, but they did believe that having more cops on the street, tough sentencing and reducing recidivism were real solutions. They also expressed a high degree of support for Virginia’s existing Instant Check Program.

Consequently, Mr. Allen hammered away at the failure of the criminal justice system, the frightening statistics about repeat offenders. And by Election Day, that group of voters were firmly in Mr. Allen’s camp, thus delivering the election to the GOP.

The Republican National Committee just held its winter meeting here and it should remember that no GOP candidate ever lost on the gun control issue despite the handwringing by the Washington intelligentsia.

Too many in the GOP offer too much “me tooism” as it is. So if they want to once again become the political majority in America and thus the governing majority, they ought to reject Mr. Clinton’s and the Democrats’ solution to crime and come up with their own. They must devise a set of ideas and goals that the American people will support. Anti-crime can be the new anti-communism for the Republican Party. But it requires the same will as the party had in opposing communism.

Craig Shirley is president of a Washington public relations and political consulting firm.

LOAD-DATE: February 20, 1994

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1994 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved

"There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right." – The Gipper