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EVERYBODY LOVES DANFORTH - AGAIN | 2000-06-09

Time for another Whitaker's Law: "It is impossible to underestimate the intelligence of a moderate Republican."

Since P.T. Barnum pointed out that, "Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American public," you would think intellectually underpowered moderate Republicans would be the very people to get elected by that same public. But it isn't so. Moderate Republicans sell out their principles to be "pragmatic" -- to win --and they lose doing it. They are both immoral and unsuccessful.

Probably the prime example of a moderate Republican is Gerald R. Ford, the man of whom Lyndon Johnson made the original observation, "He's so dumb he can't walk and chew gum at the same time."

Needless to say, good old Dumb Ford was beloved of liberals. So when Nixon and Agnew resigned, everybody readily agreed to make Ford the new president. He promptly made Nelson Rockefeller his vice president. This was the ultimate kick in the teeth to conservative Republicans.

As America's only unelected president, Gerald Ford got the Republican nomination in 1976, but he barely got it against the insurgent candidacy of Ronald Reagan. To show conservatives what he thought of them, Ford did not select a running mate to satisfy the half of the convention which went for Reagan. Instead his vice presidential choice was a fellow dumb midwestern moderate, Bob Dole.

As is normally the case with middle of the roaders out here in the real world, Ford lost. As a famously dumb man, he has never ceased to push his brilliant "middle of the road" strategy at every opportunity for the entire quarter-century since his defeat. He never slowed down during the Reagan triumphs of 1980 and 1984. The big Gingrich win in 1994 didn't phase him.

Likewise, the fact that Bush and Dole both lost as moderates in 1992 and 1996 did not cause Ford to slow his campaign for "pragmatic" moderation one iota. Such placidity in the face of all reality is the reward of the truly, deeply, and sincerely stupid.

Liberals always say moderate Republicans are winners. Meanwhile, back here in the real world, almost every congressman and senator who is actually elected to office has a very conservative or a solidly liberal voting record. In national elections, Republicans only won when they went forgot the "middle of the road" nonsense and went far right. This happened with Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and with the Contract With America in 1994.

But reality never bothers an official political expert. They are selected by liberals, and it is not for accuracy.

Bill Schneider is Ted Turner's - aka Mr. Fonda's -- official political expert on CNN. In 1992, Schneider kept insisting that Republicans could win if they went "to the middle of the road" with Daddy Bush's new (anti-Reagan) image. They lost, of course. In 1996, he said that Republicans could win if they went "to the middle of the road" with Bob Dole. They got the same bare forty percent of the vote with that strategy in 1996 that they had gotten with Bush's "new image" in 1992.

In December, 1996, Schneider declared David Beasley's switch against the Confederate flag to be really Shrewd Politics. He gave Beasley his "Political Play of the Week." Beasley has since said that that Shrewd Move cost him the governorship.

So Schneider is delighted with the rumor that Bush will make John Danforth his vice presidential running mate. I discussed former senator Danforth on September 18, 1999 in "Everybody Loves Danforth." That was when it looked as if Attorney General Reno would tap Danforth to look into the Waco mess for the official record. The fact that Reno trusted him to produce her kind of report gives you a clear idea of what kind of Republican Danforth is.

There are more reasons for the delight about Danforth on the part of Schneider and his owner, Mr. Fonda. He supported the Panama Canal giveaway. He engineered a compromise to pass the "Civil Rights" Act of 1991.

But in one aspect, Schneider's delighted discussion of Danforth was dead accurate. He said that the nomination of Danforth as Bush's vice presidential candidate would "complete the Bushification of the Republican Party."