Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Moralistic Dole Says, `It's the Tax Cuts, Stupid'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Moralistic Dole Says, `It's the Tax Cuts, Stupid'

Article excerpt

Bob Dole committed the largest heresy of this year's carefully scripted Republican conclave. After three days of enough manufactured emotion to supply 100 years' worth of Oscar television specials, Dole gave a frankly partisan political speech.

That was a relief. The troubling news is that Dole, having properly pushed his party away from the excesses of racial politics and immigrant bashing, intends to demagogue the issue of government. Once again we will have a pretend argument about a pretend problem: the notion that the government in Washington is huge because lots of silly bureaucrats and IRS agents have cooked up all these schemes that the voters never wanted.

The best line in the speech will outlast the election because it so nicely recaptures the finest days of Spiro Agnew. Here's Dole: "It is demeaning to the nation that within the Clinton administration a corps of the elite who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned, should have the power to fund with your earnings their dubious and self-serving schemes."

Try to list all the messages contained in that sentence and you lose count. Here are a few: It's a reminder of the old stories about the Clinton administration being run by a bunch of kids. It tells us that Dole comes from the Good Generation that won the Good War, and that Clinton comes from the Bad Generation, ruined by the affluence of the 1960s. It recalls that Dole was wounded in his war and that Clinton dodged his. And it suggests that your taxes are high because these spoiled brats want to waste your money on idiotic ideas they cooked up in some undergraduate seminar.

That is one powerful sentence.

Leave aside the stunning assertion that this nameless elite corps "never did anything real," which presumes that Dole will be the arbiter of what's real and what's not. The substantive problem is that the size of government has absolutely nothing to do with the scheming of effete snobs. It has everything to do with four things: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Defense Department. Dole promises to protect Social Security and to be the president who "preserved, protected and defended Medicare. …

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