Why Voters May Choose a Man They Don't Trust
Jude Wanniski
September 23, 1996


Memo To: Paul Gigot, WSJournal
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your column Friday, 'Why Voters May Choose a Man They Don't Trust'

Your column Friday listed four reasons why you think the voters may re-elect President Clinton, who you indicate they say they do not trust. The four reasons all suggest, to one degree or another, a deficiency on the part of the voters. First you offer the theory that voters think all politicians are corrupt, the inference being they will vote for Clinton even though he is corrupt and Dole is not. Two, you present the theory that Americans are as corrupt as their politicians, one you specifically reject although you say it is always tempting to reach for a "fall of Rome analogy." Third is a "diminished presidency" theory, which offers the idea that maybe voters "just don't think the White House matters anymore." Fourth is the theory that because there is a special prosecutor at work on Whitewater, etc., the voters will not conclude that President Clinton is corrupt until he is indicted. Your own favorite is the first, which is that the President merely fulfills voters' low expectations for all politicians.

My own theory is that the voters do not trust the combination of Bob Dole in the White House and Newt Gingrich in the Congress. The only reason I would trust them is that I know the Dole/Kemp team is far better than its campaign. Dole would be a moderating influence on the tendencies of a GOP Congress to want to shrink the government before the need for government has been shrunk. As long as the campaign is being run by Tony Fabrizio and political consultants who want Dole to run for sheriff, it only magnifies the concerns of Americans who fear the Gingrich approach to governance. The Dole/Kemp campaign ignores the fact that Newt did shut down the government and threaten to allow it to default on its debt. The public has good reason to fear Dole when he takes such a hard line on the deficit, when he does not tell anyone how he plans to pay for his $550 billion tax cut. I believe if he is elected, with Kemp in the adjoining office, that the Reagan Revolution would get back into high gear and living standards would rise significantly for people at the bottom. But the voters are not getting that message from the campaign. If there is to be any chance for the campaign to overtake a re-election landslide by the President, it must focus on tearing out the present tax system root and branch, to rid the system of the corruption it breeds, as well as to invite rapid economic growth with a new system. The Dole/Kemp team knows how to grow the economy rapidly without inflation. The Clinton/Gore team does not. I'm not even happy with the official Dole goal of 3 1/2% growth, as we should be able to do 5% or 6% for a number of years until we get closer to utilizing human potential.

There is no deficiency in the American electorate, Paul. The political marketplace is as efficient as the economic marketplace. There is still time for Dole/Kemp to win the trust of the American people, but not if he continues to run for sheriff. He should forget about the President's "character," which has been an enormous distraction to the GOP. The team has to back the Kemp effort to crack the solid black vote, which is also the only way it can possibly close the gender gap.