Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Candidates Clinton and Dole Just Don't Get People Jumping

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Candidates Clinton and Dole Just Don't Get People Jumping

Article excerpt

'Apathy" isn't a strong enough word. The lack of public enthusiasm in the current run for the presidency beats anything I can remember. Sure, it's the summer doldrums and the race inevitably will stir up more interest come August and the conventions. But most people aren't paying any attention to the contest. And if they are, they aren't giving the contestants any more than one or two cheers.

Indeed, the feedback I've been getting indicates that there's more than the usual number of voters around the country who would put a check by "neither of the above" if provided the opportunity in the November election.

President Clinton looks good in the polls. He's way ahead of Bob Dole and up relatively high in ratings of his performance. But the polls that probe a little deeper into public attitudes are showing that a majority of Americans have serious doubts about Mr. Clinton's record in both the Whitewater and the FBI-files controversies.

This voter questioning of Clinton's character apparently isn't undercutting his current political standing. But public trust in the president isn't today - and hasn't been from almost the beginning of his presidency - very high. Thus, a lot of people who apparently are going to help Clinton to a second term aren't too happy about what they see as their only choice.

That brings us to Mr. Dole who, given this widespread tepid feeling among Clinton's supporters, might well be poised to take advantage of the situation. But enthusiasm for Dole isn't there either - and isn't showing any signs of making an appearance.

So in this vacuum of enthusiasm for either candidate, an incumbent president - with all the visibility that naturally comes to a sitting chief executive and with Clinton speaking out on some issue every day and thus making the most of the spotlight - retains the edge. Clinton is also the beneficiary of an economy that won't hurt him in November. …

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