Democrats paid a
price on Tuesday for a decade of Clintonian disinterest in personal ethics
and Republicans gained a prize for a long history of interest in personal
ethics. All the electioneering about the inexperience of Arnold Schwarzenegger
and the last minute sliming of him by the different official and informal
organs of the Democrat Party were doomed to failure. Californians did not
care about the particulars of policy; they cared about having a decent man
Repeatedly over the last eleven years, Democrats have behaved abominably.
Casper Weinberger was indicted five days before the 1992 election and the
day after George H. Bush lost the election, Senate Democrats miraculously
“concluded” their eight year “investigation” of President Bush, determining
-- surprise! -- that he had not done anything wrong. These two dirty
tricks may have cost President Bush his reelection, but they also bartered
away the last few tokens of Democrat honor.
What followed in the next few years was not just the exposure of insatiable
corruption by the Clintons, but the general acceptance of corruption by the
Democrats. The House Banking Scandal should have been a wake-up call
for Democrats who, after all, had been running the House for decades.
Yet the graft of powerful Democrats like Dan Rostenkowski, who was in Washington
long before Clinton, blossomed into a criminal conviction after Clinton took
After the 1994 Republican landslide, Democrats should have gotten another
wake-up call. Instead, they hit the snooze button and went back into
the business of exploiting government for selfish ends. Before and
after that landslide, reasonably decent Democrats like Sam Nunn, David Boren
and Bill Bradley were bailing out of a party that no longer seemed to honor
Democrats had a chance to cure themselves in 1996. Clinton was obviously
a scoundrel, and had any significant Democrat challenged Clinton for the
nomination that year, the party itself would have had to rectify its behavior.
No one did. The silence in the Democrat nomination of 1996 was deafening.
Republicans, by contrast, nominated two good men -- lousy campaigners, but
good men -- and in losing that election Republicans won a major campaign.
The divide between the party of ethics and the party of corruption was manifestly
During the impeachment, when Democrats scooped up mud to throw against Republicans
like Henry Hyde and Bob Livingston, what did Republicans do? They acknowledged
their trivial peccadilloes and, in the case of Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston,
these Republicans gave up the second most powerful post in the American government
-- Speaker of the House -- and even resigned from Congress.
In the Democrat nomination for the 2000 election, Democrats again had a chance
to scrub themselves off. Bill Bradley was fundamentally honest, and
Al Gore was steeped in Clintonian criminality. But Bradley did not
focus on the obvious and gaping ethical problems of Clinton-Gore. He instead
fiddled around with policy and positions, as if that trumped the problems
of a corrupt presidency.
The gutter politics of Democrats after the 2000 election was in stark contrast
to the noble behavior of Richard Nixon in 1960, who chose to spare the nation
all the savagery of a prolonged fight after the election for the presidency.
The Democrat Party had become less ethical than the least ethical Republican
Gary Condit was manifestly odious, and yet Democrat leaders equivocated,
wondering how much damage he might do and whether his re-election was critical
to their chances of re-taking the House of Representatives. After nearly
all the muck was public, Dick Gephardt said that if Gary Condit won the Democrat
nomination in his district, then Gephardt would support him. Quietly,
America gasped “Support him?”
As the criminality of Robert Torricelli began increasingly apparent, Tom
Daschle was busy counting how many seats the Democrats might win or lose
in the 2000 election, and Democrats in New Jersey who believed that that
wretched man could be re-elected, and become a cipher of the Democrat side
of the aisle, re-nominated Torricelli. Only when the calculation indicated
that he would lose, did Democrats decide to dump him (illegally, of course.)
That same year, California Democrats looked at Gray Davis and saw that he,
too, would win despite his sale of California government and campaigning
tactics that made other statewide elected Democrats want to “puke.”
So Gray Davis was re-nominated by California Democrats. Republicans nominated
a good and virtuous man, and Davis tore into Bill Simon with every rotten
When Democrats showed themselves unwilling or unable to fight the vices and
dishonesty of politically successful Democrats, they left Republicans a gaping
hole. The image of Democrats as crooks was indelibly planted in the minds
of voters: Rostenkowski, Clinton, Rodham, Gore, Condit, Torricelli and now
The landslide recall was a knock on the door of the Democrat Party.
“We want honest government by decent and ethical elected officials,” the
people have said. Eleven years ago, a shyster from Arkansas said, “It’s
the economy stupid!” No, it really was not the economy, even in the recall
election of a deeply distressed California. Instead, it was all about
Democrats need some soul-searching now. If they focus on 2004 to the
exclusion of every noble instinct and personal ethic, then their political
party is very near extinction. Once men like Mike Mansfield, Daniel
Patrick Moynihan and Hubert Humphrey led a party that was too liberal, but
was not too rotten. Where are those men now?
Bruce Walker's articles can be found at the Conservative Truth.