Now that they have taken the House (and probably the Senate), Democrats should start acting like Republicans. I don't mean theRepublicans of today; I mean the Republicans of the late 1990s. Inits behavior during Bill Clinton's final years in office, the GOP offers a template for how Democrats should approach the final yearsof George W. Bush's presidency. In Clinton's concluding years, the GOP played a brilliant game of good-cop-bad cop. In Congress, the Gingrich revolutionaries wagedan all-out effort to emasculate the Clinton presidency.
The snickering began as soon as the shock from the 1994 election wore off. The Republicans had won back the Senate, and Alfonse D'Amato would become chairman of the Senate committee looking into Whitewater. Al D'Amato? The name was synonymous with sleaze. Would anyone take an ethics investigation under his direction seriously? Probably not--or at least not without the help D'Amato has received from a New Jersey prosecutor with an ethical record that is the reverse image of his own.
Midway through last Thursday's Democratic debate in New Hampshire, co-moderator Peter Jennings decided to have a little fun with Al Sharpton. The reverend wants to be treated as a serious presidential candidate—even though he has never held elective office, has visited New Hampshire only four times (twice for debates), and has offered no real policy proposals. So Jennings decided to play along. If “you have the opportunity to nominate someone to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, what kind of person would you consider for the job?” the ABC News anchor asked.
Before rejoining the Dole campaign I fly with my friend Barbara Feinman to Detroit. I have made a deal with myself, as an incentive to get out of bed in the morning. For every three days I spend with Bob Dole I will allow myself a day with someone who is not Bob Dole. Normally, I would have waited until I had earned the reward to collect it. But circumstances--namely Barbara--intervened. Until a few months ago Barbara was happily making a living helping famous Washingtonians—Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward, a pride of senators—write their books.
Last March Senator Alfonse D'Amato was having din- dinner at his favorite restaurant in New York City's Little Italy when he was told he had a phone call from President Reagan. The president was personally calling senators to line up support for an upcoming vote on the MX missile, a cornerstone of the administration's defense buildup. The outcome very likely could be decided by a single vote. “Molinari, you creep, cut this bullshit out,” D'Amato barked into the phone at Reagan.