A4 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJournal ©aol.com Quote of the day "A campaign is not only a contest between ideas and dreams but also between the manner in which two candidtes project themselves to the voters. Clinton, all fuzzy and warm smiles, understood this. But Dole, chilly and buttoned- down, did not." Marianne Means Hearst Newspapers Washington correspondent OPINION I CLINTON By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal BUI Clinton THE ISSUE President of the United States THE ARGUMENT BUI Clinton is still our best choice A s president of the United States, Bill Clinton has moved our nation in the right direction. Not as far as he promised. Not as fast as some hoped. And not without raising real ^^ concerns ^^ about his 4i personal character. But look back four years, and the movement is clear. Look ahead, and the direction his rivals wish to chart is truly frightening. Four years ago, Clinton promised he would cut the budget deficit in half. He did that, with tax policies that favor the working family over the rich. Clinton's tax increase only hit the top strata of Americans, while cutting taxes for the working poor. And it did not, as Republicans warned, wreck the economy. The rich are still rolling in it. But many more working families see their work pay off because the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit. This direction should be continued. Clinton is wrong to take so much credit for the nationwide drop in violent crime. But crime is down, and his policies — more cops on the street and reasonable gun control — didn't hurt. Clinton has not moved as far or as fast as some would like in protecting the environment. But he has been much more of a friend of the Earth than any active Republican would be. Clinton has not worked out the problem of affirmative action. But he is the best leader we have seen in a long time in terms of building bridges between racial, ethnic and religious groups. If anything about Clinton seems genuine, it is his realization that America enjoys relative peace while, in so many nations of the Earth, different races and religions are killing each other in great numbers. His desire to keep it that way is not only real, it is the most important thing a leader can offer us these days. Bob Dole has served his country with courage and devotion for 50 years. But so have many other people, and it does not qualify any of them to be president. Dole's personal behavior raises fewer questions than Clinton's, to be sure. But Dole's wrong-headed political behavior — coziness with rich special interests, kowtowing to the radical right and, worst of all, caving in to voodoo economics with his 15 percent tax cut — undermine his claim to leadership. Bill Clinton has not given us a reason to carve his likeness into Mount Rushmore. Chances are that he never will. But he is the best choice we have for the White House for the last four years of the 20th century. T POINT OF VIEW Matters of character Good people may not be able to stay that way in public office T he current national political dialogue places character at the forefront of the public mind. Two words are useful to the common citizen attempting to make sense of this discussion: acceptable and tolerable. Citizens probably don't like any flaws of character in their political leaders but they tolerate them because of the limitations: the choice is often between poor and worse, or poor and ineffective. The choice at any particular moment defines what the public tolerates and what it will accept. For instance, sexual character flaws may not be * acceptable but likely are tolerated because so many persons have similar per- spnal experiences or aren't troubled much about sexual ethics. However, the public will not tolerate politicians who dip into the public treasury, or commit egregious deception. Character makes a difference, but we ought not assume that simply electing "good" persons guarantees improvement in the political system. Individuals with good personal character don't necessarily know how to work for the public good. Their instincts may be right but their comprehension of public issues and skill in working toward the public good may be lacking. MARSHALL STANTON for the Salina Journal On the other hand, individuals who aren't so personally fine may want to work for the public good and become very effective in accomplishing that. Moving to Washington separates politicians from their roots, their communities, families, friends and church. They are removed from the very context which gave meaning and value to their lives. They live in a high- pressure atmosphere where everyone is either asking a favor for someone else or seeking to get something for themselves. All humans are subject to greed, self-centeredness and the passions of the flesh. The pressures of the Washington scene place every human flaw and weakness under great duress. Only the strongest persons survive Washington with integrity and honor. It is unusually rare for persons to survive and to be effective in working for the public good. If given a choice, we should elect persons with good character for public office who seem to have a grasp of the public good, but not assume we have guaranteed effectiveness in public servants. It is not known how they will stand up to the great pressures of office, how they will translate their personal values into the public good, or how they will survive in a system which seems toxic to most high values. The only assurance we can wager is to elect persons who have well-served in lesser offices where they have proven themselves. Jesus' parable is apt, he who is faithful in little can be trusted in much. • Marshall Stanton, Salina, (MStanl51@aol.com) is president of Kansas Wesleyan University. NOTICE IM THE 18^ % MR. SOMEBODY £?/DA/'T *We Gof RTESV To U3£ /A/ 7He/?n£ME6ATE. BUT WE'LL GET THIS BoZ.0 OUT OF THE tJiUTE VloUSE SDONll ^^^" V I * ' ^^ •THE LEGENDARY Douewn* OF WHICH THERE AWE so pew ACTVAL •Ws* T TORY NOTIONS A dry sterile thunder without rain Bill Clinton's campaign was dishonest; Bob Dole's was unintelligible I t was a campaign between a man whose plasticity of conviction permits him to say anything sincerely, and a man whose intellectual indiscipline prevents him from saying anything convincingly. This ^ autumn's protracted rumble of "dry sterile thunder without rain" demonstrated how to achieve a victory barren of a mandate and how to lose without a dignifying purpose. Bill Clinton's low, dishonest campaign was fueled by financial corruption and.nourished by immigrants rushed onto voting rolls by naturalization procedures that trashed the idea of citizenship. However, the campaign's intellectual corruption made all other * forms pale by comparison. His campaign revolved around what amounted to a promise not to deal honestly with entitlement reform. His campaign radiated a cynicism honed during the early days of the 104th Congress, when Democrats discovered that the media were megaphones for the canard that Republicans aimed to savage the school lunch program (by limiting the growth of spending on it to 0.7 percent less per year than Democrats favored). From there it was a straight downhill slog to the swamp of demagoguery about Medicare. When, ere long, Democrats call, as surely they will, for a bipartisan Medicare commission, like that which recommended the Social Secu- T SUNDAY FUNNIES GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post rity reforms of 1983, Republicans should say: Sorry, you have made this problem your toy, so you play with it all by yourselves. Bob Dole's unintelligible campaign — the "Finnegan's Wake" of presidential politics — was premodern in its indifference to the rhetorical dimension of the modern presidency, and postmodern in its randomness. His contention that the liberal media made matters worse called to mind the sign on the ruins of an ancient British church: "Anyone damaging these ruins will be prosecuted." Reagan faced media much more hostile than the often affectionate media Dole faced, but Reagan won because his candidacy, unlike Dole's, was about something larger than the candidate's lust for the last rung up the ladder. Which is to say, the secret to getting out a message is to have one. William Jennings Bryan lost three presidential races but articulated the anxieties of aggrieved classes and regions, and breathed life into a new theme — government as a countervailing power, controlling the emerging entities of industrial capitalism. Barry Goldwater lost 44 states but brought conservatism from the fringe to the center of America's political conversation. In contrast, Dole, by an incoherence and superficiality born of his intellectual laziness and the incompetence of his staff of rented strangers, trivialized every issue he touched, from the coarsening of the culture as exemplified by partial-birth abortions to the Balkanization of the country by racial preferences. On Tuesday the country will make the mistake of extending a squalid presidency, but the country cannot be said to have missed the chance for a luminous presidency. Dole has cried out to the country, "Where's the outrage?" Well, there are overflowing reservoirs of it in Republican ranks regarding Dole's running mate, whose campaign was a prolonged dance of narcissism. Like the Cheshire cat's grin, nothing lingers from Jack Kemp's campaign but the image of him preening about being too virtuous to be "divisive" by making a sustained, principled attack on the people who, by enforcing racial preferences, are dividing the country with a racial spoils system. Kemp, who scolded some Republicans for not being loyal team players, said, shortly before Dole belatedly took up the issue of racial preferences, that Dole, too, was too pure to do that. Kemp's traducing of conservatism and common sense was wide-ranging. Evidently prompted by a crackpot adviser (Jude Wannis- ki, who thinks the Second World War was caused by Germany's tax and monetary policies), Kemp praised the "wonderful" message of the lunatic Farrakhan. Kemp attacked Clinton's foreign policy from the left ("Don't bomb before breakfast"), by criticizing Clinton for asserting American power without seeking the permission of allies. Republicans should apologize to the country for proposing to put Kemp near the presidency. When Clinton is re-elected and proposing, say, "targeted" tax incentives to get children to floss after brushing, discerning liberals will be more depressed than conservatives. Robert Kuttner, an editor of the fine liberal bimonthly The American Prospect, notes that "despite the ending of 12 years of Republican rule and four years of a Democrat in the White House, the center of political gravity is somewhat further to the right than it was the day Clinton took office." Which underscores how remarkable it is that the Republican Party could not produce a ticket that could make a convincing case to voters, 72 percent of whom currently chose to live under Republican governors. The key question: Is it fat-free? If all this food has the fat taken out, what are they doing with all that fat? R tion. ecently, a reader named Jim Cornell sent me a postcard with a picture of insects on it, posing an interesting ques- DAVE BARRY The Miami Ilemlit (No, the insects were not posing a question. As far as I know.) Jim stated that he, like every other American above the age of 4, is on a low-fat diet, and he noted that we have become & basically a non-fat nation. This is true; virtually all edible substances, and many automotive products, are now marketed as being "low-fat" or "fat-free." Americans are obsessed with fat content. DOCTOR: Mrs. Stoatbonker, you will die within hours unless you take this antibiotic. PATIENT: Is it fat-free? DOCTOR: I don't know. PATIENT: I'll just have a Diet Pepsi. •* So anyway, Jim, after noting that "millions of pounds of formerly fat-rich food is now de-fatted," asks: "What are they doing with all that fat?" Jim, that is an excellent question, and I intend to answer it just as soon as I have written enough words to make a column. (Don't you wish you had a job like mine? All you have to do is think up a certain number of words! And they don't even have to be true! Plus, you can repeat words! And they don't even have to be true!) First, however, we need to consider exactly what "fat" is. Just off the top of my head, without glancing at a dictionary, I would define fat as "any of various mixtures of solid or semisolid triglycerides found in adipose animal tissue or in the seeds of plants." A "triglyceride," as I vaguely recall from my high-school years, is "any of a group of esters, CH2(OOCR1)CH(OOCR2)CH2(OOCR3), derived from glycerol and three fatty acid radicals." But what does this mean? One thing it means, of course, is that "Three Fatty Acid Radicals" would be an excellent name for a rock band. But it also means that fat is some kind of chemical item that nature puts inside certain plants and animals to make them taste better. A good rule of thumb is: The more fat something contains, the better it tastes. This is why we eat hamburgers, but we do not eat ants. Ants have a very low fat content, so nobody eats them except unfortunate animals such as birds, who, because of a design flaw, cannot use drive-thru windows. Human beings, on the other hand, enjoy hamburgers, because they (the hamburgers) come from cows, which are notoriously fat. You will never see a cow voluntarily going anywhere near an Ab- dominizer. Of course, there have been efforts to make low-fat "hamburgers." In researching this column, I purchased a product called "Harvest Burgers," which are "All Vegetable Protein Patties" manufactured by the Green Giant Corp. Upon examining the package, the first thing I noticed was that the Jolly Green Giant has apparently had plastic surgery. He no longer looks like the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" guy; he now looks like Paul McCartney on steroids. Check it out. The second thing I noticed is that the key ingredient in Harvest Burgers is "soy." This ingredient is found in many low-fat foods, and I think it's time that the Food and Drug Administration told us just what the hell it is. A plant? A mineral? An animal? Are there enormous soy ranches in Nebraska, with vast herds of soys bleating and suckling their young? As a consumer, I'd like some answers. I don't want to discover years from now that "soy" is an oriental word meaning "compressed ant parts." This is not intended as a criticism of the "Harvest Burger," which is a well-constructed, extremely cylindrical frozen unit of brown foodlike substance. The package states that it contains "83 percent less fat than ground beef; I believe this, because it also tastes exactly 83 percent less good than ground beef. Nevertheless I highly recommend it for anybody who needs more "soy" or a backup hockey puck. Oh, sure, there will be people who will claim that soy patties taste "almost as good" as real hamburgers. These are the same people who have convinced themselves that rice cakes taste "almost as good" as potato chips, when in fact eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling. You could fill a container with roofing shingles and put it in the supermarket with a sign that said "ZERO- FAT ROOFING SHINGLES," and these people would buy it and convince themselves it tasted "almost as good" as French toast. Yes, we have become a low-fat society, which brings us back to the question posed by Jim Cornell: What's being done with all the fat? Jim offers this theory: "I suspect that they're dumping it in some small town in Texas or Mexico." No way, Jim. Our government would never allow a major fat-dumping facility in the same region where we're storing the dead UFO aliens. No, the truth is that the fat is being loaded into giant tanker trucks, transported by night, and pumped into: my thighs. There was no choice: Marlon Brando was already full. But I'm happy to do my part for a leaner America, so don't bother to thank me. Are you going to finish those fries? POSTSCRIPT. After I wrote this column, my editor, Tom Shroder, sent me a note saying he thinks he read somewhere that ants do contain fat. I think he's wrong, but since we're both professional journalists, neither of us will look it up. I will say this: If ants do contain fat, it's only a matter of time before somebody comes out with low-fat ants.
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