Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Dare Speak His Name

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Dare Speak His Name

Article excerpt

Set him free!

Sure, they hate Bill Clinton in the swing states and they can't abide him in the rural counties, but nobody's perfect. In the Gore campaign, the president is known as "the ice on our wings."

But just wait. That supercilious Nashville crowd is going to have to let Clinton do a little more than get-out-the-vote rallies and ads. They're going to have to let the big dog run.

When Clinton is asked about his role in the campaign of his vice president, who refuses to campaign with him, he says, "I just want to do whatever is best." But you can see the pop-up bubble: "Give me a shot at Bush. I can take him."

We all knew that Bill Clinton was going to make this election about himself sooner or later. This is a man with needs. Unquenchable needs.

On the whole, the president has been patient about Al Gore casting him as Lord Voldemort, the Harry Potter villain who inspires such fear no one dares speak his name.

Clinton has also been game, relegated to political vaudeville for a year, forced to headline at small-bore fund-raisers in boring cities with bad restaurants and candidates that no one has ever heard of. He fell off the wagon only once, really, when he did that fabulously cheesy gladiator walk at the L.A. convention -- a cry for attention if there ever was one.

But think how awful it has been for the poor president, pacing around his Oval Cage as Al Gore frittered away this huge, amazing gift that had been bestowed on him: the best economy in the history of mankind, a burgeoning surplus, a declining crime rate, minuscule unemployment and inflation, vertiginous approval ratings.

Gore is willing to campaign with any big-name Democrat except the man who may be the most popular and articulate leader in the world.

The vice president does not even deign to ask Clinton's advice. Like Hannibal Lecter in his locked body cast, the president was forced to peer through a slit as his vice president fell behind the son of the man he had dispatched so certainly eight years ago.

How on earth do you lose an unlosable election to a rich little daddy's boy who has been governor of a state for six years where governors don't even have much power -- a slacker who can't talk and won't think, who is on the wrong side of the issues, whose only theme is to offer change to a country that is thrilled with the way things are? …

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