Dumping Dole
Jude Wanniski
July 22, 1996

 

Memo To: John McLaughlin
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Dumping Dole

I was glad to see you devoted one of your "McLaughlin Group" segments to the grapevine hallucinations about Bob Dole bowing out on the eve of the GOP convention, just when his dream of a lifetime is within his grasp. Which is to say, the GOP presidential nomination. John Sears made the observation several months ago that Dole has never dreamt of being President, only the party nominee. Which is why he doesn't convey any sense of what he would attempt to do as President. I concluded 18 months ago, when I threw in the Dole towel, that he believes the President goes to work in the morning and looks in his "In" basket, and then decides what to do. Still, I think the party will gamely rally around and hope to present a reasonable face to the voters in November. Dole will close the 20-pt gap when all the factions in the GOP realize they have squeezed as much as they can out of him by threatening a "Dump Dole" movement. This will not be enough to overcome Clinton's advantage which is that he has been able to unify the Democrats around a defense of the social safety net. Normally the best offense is not a good defense, but in this case it is, because Dole does not have an offense. Your suggestion that he did well this week by attacking the teachers' union is not right, I don't think. It seems to be part of the general GOP attack on the safety net, which includes the public school system.

You should invite Ross Perot on your McLaughlin "One on One," to discuss his ideas on how to fix the nation's problems. Larry King isn't equipped to get at Perot's substantive ideas, and Jim Lehrer gave up too soon. He was getting close to peeling away the Perot veneer. The way to do it is to ask him what he thinks of the various ideas and strategies put forward by the major party candidates. If Perot had some good answers, he would advance in the polls. If he did not, he would fall back into the single digits. I'd love to watch such a show. Russ Verney told me that Perot did like Jack Kemp's June 18 op-ed in the WSJournal, which laid out a basic supply-side strategy. It would be nice to see you get him to open up, one way or another.

P.S. I agree completely with your argument that Joe Klein did absolutely nothing wrong in insisting upon anonymity in writing "Primary Colors." The press corp is having a hissy fit because he thought of doing the book, that he carried it off and made $6 million, that he writes fiction better than any other working journalist, and that the book made the Clintons look bad. If he had written the book around the life and times of Speaker Newt, everyone would be having a good laugh, and Joe would be the toast of the town.