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Gore Is The Lesser Evil, But Not By Very Much
Published on August 15, 2000 in the Los Angeles Times
Gore Is The Lesser Evil, But Not By Very Much
by Robert Scheer
Is the U.S. Supreme Court the ball game? As liberal delegates at the Democratic convention hold their noses in support of a ticket they'd condemn if it carried the Republican label, the one compelling caveat to any party disloyalty is what could happen to the makeup of the Supreme Court if the Republicans win. Faced with supporting a ticket full of holier-than-thou bluster, a ticket that is poised to move right of President Clinton on affirmative action, vouchers and defense spending, the court becomes the main justification for a vote for Gore-Lieberman.

The devil is now found in the "pro-life" stance of George W. Bush, even though he's qualified it, saying it would not be a "litmus test." And let's face it, if Republicans hope to hold, and not just win, the presidency, they would be out of their minds to bring back the good old days when women routinely killed themselves with wire coat hangers or died on dirty operating tables in Tijuana because our government was complying with a notion of God's will.

One has to respect Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who spoke to Democratic delegates this week. His pro-life position includes government support for poor children and opposition to the death penalty. Such is not the case with the Christian rightists who have made so much mischief out of the abortion issue and who viciously cut government programs that assist the children of the poor. These are also the same people who support lowering the age of executions and, as in a recent case in Gov. Bush's Texas, killing a man of such low intelligence that he couldn't have understood what was happening to him or why. Clearly, a God worthy of worship would not put such a seriously impaired person on this Earth to test him but rather to measure the charity of spirit of the powerful.

No one has failed that standard more callously than George W., who, undeterred by DNA tests or new evidence that raise doubts about the guilt of numerous prisoners, continues the Texas killing spree with the aplomb of a weekend duck hunter shrugging off any feelings for the dead birds. How can this man be so popular with the media that travel with him when the executioner's blood on his hands should make their skins crawl?

Sadly, the Democrats do not always offer much of an alternative. Clinton allowed the execution of a man in Arkansas who expected to finish his dessert afterward. In California, Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, has said he will not appoint a judge who does not believe in capital punishment, and the Democratic ticket to be selected this week boasts of the Clinton administration's record of adding a number of capital crimes to the federal code. So it's not likely that a Supreme Court appointed by Democrats will be more inclined to reverse hanging judges.

And what about civil liberties? Are the Democrats better on free speech issues? Need one ask, after the selection of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who scapegoats Hollywood with a passion that at times exceeds that of Jerry Falwell? If Gore's people at the helm of the Democratic Party were willing to humiliate California Rep. Loretta Sanchez in her backyard for daring to raise money for voter registration at the Playboy Mansion, they will likely indulge similar displays of bleeding-heart Puritanism in court appointees.

Playboy's a problem, but, like the Republicans, the Democrats seem to just love corporate sponsors at their convention, such as Chevron, AT&T and Raytheon. The latter is eager to impress--being a big potential beneficiary of the $60-billion missile defense boondoggle--and must be heartened that Lieberman is so enthusiastic in his support of this and other military rat holes.

Hopefully, the strong presence in the party of labor money and delegates will make a Democratic administration slightly more concerned about worker, consumer and human rights as we enter the so-called New World Order, but I wouldn't count on it. Corporate giveaways these past years have been studiously bipartisan, and it's paid off in pro-business legislation that has passed muster with pro-business courts. One good example: The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which gave away the store to the broadcast and phone companies without even making a pretense of considering the public interest.

So, too, last year with the Financial Services Modernization Act, which allowed banks, insurance companies and stockbrokers to merge for the first time in 65 years and also share your most intimate personal data through the Internet. The media wing of big business has of course reported favorably on these developments.

So what to do? Are the Democrats the lesser evil deserving of our support? I hope so, but I can't deny that Ralph Nader is looking better all the time.

Copyright 2000 Robert Scheer


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