In the past, the great post-World War II institutions of international economics--the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the enforcement bodies of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)--have operated under the cover of bureaucratic darkness. Some lobbyists in Washington knew about them, but few voters knew what the Kennedy Round was or what the IMF did. But in the past year, the operation of these international institutions has become a major issue in Congress and the presidential campaign, and their conduct has already sparked the kind of militant left-wing demonstrations not seen for three decades.
In South Carolina, the National Right to Life Committee ran radio ads bludgeoning Arizona Senator John McCain. "If you want a strongly pro-life president," the ads said, "don't support John McCain." But McCain has never voted for abortion and until this election has always been known as a pro-life senator. Why the attack ad? The reason is that McCain has sponsored campaign finance reform, which the National Right to Life Committee adamantly opposes. But instead of criticizing McCain for backing a measure that is popular, even among many Republican voters, the committee has portrayed him as being the patron saint of baby killers.
Karl Rove, George W. Bush's chief campaign strategist, has compared this year's election to that of 1896 and Bush himself to victorious Republican presidential candidate William McKinley. Rove argued that just as McKinley's election created a new political alignment that reflected the industrial revolution of the late nineteenth century, Bush's election in 2000 would create a new political alignment that reflected the new high-tech economy of the twenty-first century. "We're at a unique moment where the governing philosophy and government model that we choose in this election is likely to be the philosophy and model for the next 20 years," Rove said.
As Bill Clinton prepared to leave office and public attention swiveled toward the incoming administration, the outgoing president spent his last months in the Oval Office making recess appointments and issuing a flurry of new regulations and executive orders. Many of these have been in the works for years but were blocked by the Republican Congress. With very few exceptions, these orders and appointments represented the suppressed liberal aspirations of the Clinton administration.