Too Far, Too Fast, Too Shallow 

Too Far, Too Fast, Too Shallow 
Posted by FoM on September 07, 1999 at 18:44:02 PT
Why George W. Bush isn’t ready for prime time 
Source: MSNBC
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 — George W. Bush is perfectly capable of answering questions about whether he ever used drugs. But he shouldn’t do so. He seems incapable of answering questions about important public policy. But he’d better start.
 I suspect he can’t deal with issues because he’s come too far too fast. Although a decent man, Bush is simply too shallow and too callow to discuss issues in depth.    That’s why he refuses to be interviewed on public affairs shows like “Meet the Press.”    As a principal strategist for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, we, too, had a candidate who moved from being an unknown governor to a front-running candidate faster than perhaps we’d wanted him to. We, too, were bedeviled by dark questions from his distant past. We, too, pleaded for a zone of privacy, for forgiveness, for perspective.    WHAT’S THE WORLD VIEW?    But unlike Bush, Clinton came into the race for the presidency with a well-formed world view and a host of new ideas. So when the fertilizer hit the fan, he could cast his campaign as “public ideas versus personal attacks.” Bush comes only with a winning personality, which is why personal questions are especially troubling for his candidacy.    For Ollie North's side of the story, click here:       Now that I have moved from being a presidential advisor to the co-host of a political talk show, I want to make George W. Bush the kind of offer I wish someone had made to Bill Clinton: Come on our show, Governor, and I’ll only ask questions pertinent to the performance of the presidency. And because I know you haven’t had enough time for your advisors to brief you on your deeply held convictions, I’ll give you the questions in advance. To sweeten the pot, you can bring notes, books, briefing papers, even advisors to whisper in your ear. Here’s what I’ll ask: Do you support the President’s proposal to have Medicare cover the cost of prescription drugs? Do you support the GOP platform’s call for the abolition of the Department of Education? Do you believe federal patient protection laws should give citizens the same right to sue their HMO that Texas law gives citizens of your state? Why did you mock Karla Faye Tucker’s plea for mercy in TALK magazine? Why did you say you didn’t care where Kosovo is? Can you name three issues on which Jerry Falwell is wrong? How about the NRA? What do you disagree with them on? Or the Chamber of Commerce-Bill Clinton disagreed with big labor on trade. Do you believe Big Business is right on every single issue? Republican House Whip Tom DeLay says the Columbine killings were caused by legalized birth control pills, child care and the teaching of the theory of evolution. Do you agree? Last year you said, “Higher education is not my priority.” Why not? And the special bonus question, worth a $1,000 donation to your favorite charity: Do you support or oppose Sen. Ted Kennedy’s bill to raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour?    I first offered this bounty on July 16. Bush was reported to have responded, “Tell Begala to keep his powder dry.” Governor, my powder is bone dry. If it was any dryer it’d blow away. But I’m still waiting. It’s not that hard.     Chat with "Equal Time" co-hosts Paul Begala or Ollie North on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET. Click here: to join the chat or read chat transcripts.    Democrats like Ted Kennedy say we need to raise the minimum wage by a dollar an hour so millions of hard-working Americans can raise their children out of poverty. Republicans like Dick Armey say they oppose the minimum wage with every fiber of their being. Where do you stand?    These are the kinds of questions the media ought to be asking. No sex. No drugs. No touchy-feely, what-animal-would-you-be-and-why. Just issues.    LANGUID PRESS CORPS  One of the enduring lessons of the Bush cocaine affair is that the political press in America has two modes: puffball and sleazeball.     To be fair, I can’t blame Bush entirely for his campaign’s failure to take strong stands. Few of the questions on my quiz have been asked of Bush by the political press. One of the enduring lessons of this whole affair is that the political press in America has two modes: puffball and sleazeball. A few months ago the political press was the George W. Bush Suck-Up League. The toughest question he was asked by one big-time network reporter-pundit was, “Have you been surprised by the crowds?”    If Bush truly wants a campaign of ideas and not the politics of personal destruction, he would do well to ignore questions of substance abuse, and answer questions of substance. You have an open invitation, Governor.    By Paul BegalaMSNBC   Paul Begala is former counselor to President Clinton. He is co-host, with Ollie North, of MSNBC’s “Equal Time,” which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday on MSNBC cable. Bush's Drug Past No Laughing Matter - 8/29/99
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