Features

All sizzle, no steak

National | Clinton deceptions a feast, but the media aren't hungry

Issue: "Dole: Looking for a VP," May 25, 1996

The anger some Republicans feel about President Clinton's stealing their economic and social ideas in a blitzkrieg of deception is now heard from the lips of members of Congress in private conversation. After the dinner honoring Billy Graham for receiving the Congressional Gold Medal-where Mr. Clinton made an appearance, praising Mr. Graham and speaking of his own relationship to God-a Republican senator who attended the event told me, "Bill Clinton is the biggest liar I have ever heard." In Washington, that is quite a distinction.

The evidence favors the senator's view. President Clinton has not only governed opposite what candidate Clinton promised, but throughout his term he also has frequently demonstrated intellectual and political irregularity. In fact, Mr. Clinton changes faster than the seasons, faster even than the time of day.

While Bob Dole's difficulty is communicating who he is, Bill Clinton's political strength is-with the help of the big media-masking his real self. Promises are broken almost as quickly as they are made, and not enough reporters take note.

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Ask yourself why Mr. Clinton is not being attacked by liberal congressional Democrats who once worried he would gut their favorite spending programs. They're not concerned because they know Mr. Clinton uses conservative rhetoric insincerely.

Ronald Reagan used image to enhance his substance. Bill Clinton uses image to hide his. During the 1992 campaign, candidate Clinton said that the Bush economy was the worst in 50 years. In the first quarter of 1992, the economy grew 4.7 percent. Now, the administration's economic advisor Laura Tyson says a 2.8 percent growth in the first quarter of this year "is plain and simple good news for the American economy and more evidence that the president's economic strategy is paying off."

President Clinton claims to be cutting taxes and spending, but payments to government at all levels grew 8.6 percent last year and salaries grew only 5.5 percent, according to the Commerce Department. So if you got a raise, the government took most or all of it.

For the four quarters ending in April, personal income was up only 4.9 percent, according to the Joint Economic Committee. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Dominici (R-N.M.) said, "It's very difficult when the president gives a speech saying he will make government smaller and presents a budget that does the opposite."

Much has been written about how the president's proposals for balancing the budget by cutting spending won't take effect until he leaves office. Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) noted that "the weakness in it is there is no way in God's green earth that we're going to cut $90 billion from discretionary [spending] in 2002."

Most of the proposed Clinton cuts come at the expense of defense, which has alarmed the president's own chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. John Shalikashvili told The Washington Times in March, "I believe we risk future combat readiness of the U.S. military if we fail to adequately fund recapitalization, starting in [fiscal year] 1997."

Is the era of big government over, as President Clinton says? Watch what he does, not what he says. The Wall Street Journal noted that Mr. Clinton "has vetoed every bill that would actually reduce the size of government ... over this past year Bill Clinton has been an obstacle to reform; whatever his misleading rhetoric, that record is written in his vetoes."

Can anyone doubt that the sudden interest in cutting the gas tax, promoting adoption (while favoring pro-abortion policies), and welfare reform for teenage mothers is the equivalent of stealing the intellectual property of Republicans and a response to polling that shows the country growing more conservative?

A television ad campaign, showing "Clinton vs. Clinton" sound bites, would be a good way to open the eyes of the public to a world-class deceiver. Let's demonstrate that Bill Clinton is the slickest, trickiest president we've ever had.

© 1996, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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