How Low Can You Go?


Throughout the scandals of recent years, the public has seemed a lot more sober than the reporters. Take the Dick Morris affair. You have to work yourself into a state of extreme delusionary rectitude to be shocked by a relationship between a political consultant and a prostitute. Indeed, when I first heard that Morris had been caught with a prostitute, I thought he might just have been by himself.

What was surprising was not Morris's affair, but that it was treated as such a big story, even in the supposedly high-tone press. Time magazine put Morris on its cover two weeks in a row; I don't recall any world leader getting such back-to-back treatment. Reporters gave their profound opinion that the latest scandal could only damage the President. In fact, it didn't even cause a blip in the polls. Most people hadn't heard of Morris and, quite sensibly, didn't care. This was not Profumo betraying national security.

Maureen Dowd, who devoted at least two of her columns in the New York Times to Morris, later wrote that the tabloids had won, "driving the coverage in '96 and dragging the rest of us along on scoops about kinky consultants." Dragged along? Please. The National Enquirer should sue her on false charges of journalistic rape.


It was absurd enough when Bob Dole and other Republican leaders claimed at their San Diego convention that they had not bothered to read the party platform that conservatives had written. But Dole has since been outdone by none other than Ralph Nader, presidential candidate of the Green Party.

Nader insists that not only isn't he bound by the Green Party's platform but that he never talks with any of the party's leaders. Apparently, he doesn't want to comply with any of the financial disclosure requirements of the Federal Elections Commission; and if he spends less than $5,000 on his campaign, he doesn't have to. He campaigns on the cheap; his problem is the expenses of the Green Party. But, in his lawyerly view, as long as he avoids coordinating his campaign with the Green Party, he need not count the party's expenses toward his total.

Coming next: presidential candidates who claim never to have heard of the party that nominated them.

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"It's about women and children being tortured and murdered," began the full-page advertisement for Court TV.

"It's about a no-name tavern keeper from Bosnia who they say became a monster and a defendant who says they've got the wrong guy."

"Which means it's about everyday people testifying at a whodunit criminal trial . . . "

Imagine what Court TV could have done with Nuremberg or the Spanish Inquisition. They've got the genocide and torture market sewn up.

-Paul Starr

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