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.
The Framers of the Constitution, as we remember from our civics lessons, sought to design a government so well checked and balanced that it would resist the unruly passions of the multitude. During the impeachment of President Clinton by the House of Representatives, it was impossible not to feel that those expectations had been inverted. The frenzy was in the government, while public opinion remained a rock of stability. Indeed, throughout the past year, sensational events have come and gone, yet the public's judgment of President Clinton and what ought to be done about him has hardly changed. The storm rages, the pundits thunder, but the sea is quiet--people shake their heads, go about their business, and hope only that the unruly mob in their capital will calm down.
The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats are now merely the reflecting "moon" of American politics and Republicans the "sun." But demographic and voting data suggest the Democrats could create a new majority without sacrificing progressive concerns.
Even before this campaign, he was a familiar figure in our public lifethe high-minded politician, detached from partisan passions, divorced from interest groups, devoted to higher purposes for the good of all, disdainful of image-making, fundraising, and negative campaigns. To varying degrees, Adlai Stevenson, John Anderson, and Paul Tsongas played the part; now it is Bill Bradley's turn, and we will see whether he plays it to the same conclusionpolitical defeat.