Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Leaders' Identity Crisis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Leaders' Identity Crisis

Article excerpt

I worked as a reporter in Montgomery County, a wealthy Maryland suburb, for five long years. Never did a county care so much about good government. Officials there talk about zoning and sludge as rapturously as Newt Gingrich talks about dodos.

So I was thunderstruck to read that the county is dropping the word "government." The Democratic county executive, Douglas Duncan, has decided that the word is "arrogant" and "off-putting" and has ordered it banished from official letterheads, cars and business cards.

Perhaps the times call for such Orwellian solutions. With the capital plunged into a crisis of identity, maybe it would help to simply drop certain words: conservative, party, revolution, establishment, loyalty, principles. Oh, and two more: identity, crisis.

As the president shape-shifts into a kinder and gentler Gingrich and the general discovers the wonders of conservatism, Democrats and Republicans are doing internecine battle over the essential natures of their tribes.

Democrats are in a fresh rage over the president's perfidy. They learned that President Bill Clinton urged support for the Senate welfare bill, even though his own administration had done a study showing that it would push more than a million children into poverty. The president ignored an ugly reality that was not politically convenient. Imagine!

Despite Mrs. Clinton's interminable comparisons of herself to Eleanor Roosevelt, this is a White House that has proved it will sell out anybody - from close friends to congressional allies to poor children - to win again.

The Democratic harrumphing over the president's latest guru, Dick Morris - the man who spent so much time coaching Republicans on how best to belittle Clinton - is hilarious. Clinton did not hire him despite his sinister flexibility. He hired him because of it.

In a town full of hacks - excuse me, professionals - who work both sides of the street, Morris simply does it better. For a president who wakes up every day on both sides of the street, Morris provides the satisfaction of a harmonic convergence.

Republicans are in a scorching fight over what it means to be a conservative. …

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