Magazine article Insight on the News

Between '94 and '96, GOP Must Counter Centrist Clinton

Magazine article Insight on the News

Between '94 and '96, GOP Must Counter Centrist Clinton

Article excerpt

Imagine the speech emanating from the Oval Office the morning after this fall's midterm elections. Exhausted, his eyes bleary, his voice virtually gone from nonstop campaigning, President Clinton addresses the country.

"You may have difficulty hearing my voice right now, but I have heard yours," he begins. "The elections are over, and the American people have spoken. After four decades of Democratic control, the next Congress of the United States will be a Republican Congress. I accept your judgment. You have asked for change, and change has come."

Biting his lip, the president continues: "In the days and weeks to come, I will announce a new White House staff, a new Cabinet and, most importantly, a new agenda. You have given me another chance, and a Congress I can work with. I thank you, and I will not let you down."

By afternoon, liberals awake to the danger before them. Not only have they lost Congress, they simultaneously have lost the White House. Clinton has flip-flopped yet again; now he's a "centrist." By day's end, George Mitchell, Jesse Jackson and Michael Kinsley all announce their intention to run against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1996. Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, go into shock: What now?

Such a scenario may not be altogether fanciful. Clinton is twitching and in need of intensive political care, but he is by no means dead and buried, thanks to the 46 "cockroach" Republicans who voted with him on the crime bill. Indeed, a Republican landslide in the midterm election actually could bring the president up from the political grave.

First of all, a drubbing of Democrats at the polls in November would allow Clinton to say he has been "sobered" to reality. The country is pleading with the president: Go right, young man. Were he to internalize and embrace that message, he would be back in business.

Second, the president could say he now is "liberated" from the straitjacket Capitol Hill liberals "imposed" upon him. Clinton promised to provide middle-class tax cuts, end welfare as we know it and revolutionize government by "eliminating wasteful spending, limiting special interests, stopping the revolving door from public office to private lobbying, and reforming campaign finance and practices. …

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