I spent much of the latter half of yesterday on planes bound for San Francisco, which is where I am as I write this. We hovered above the city for more than an hour before landing–a combination of bad weather and President Clinton taking off from the S.F. airport. I didn’t find out until much later that he’d been here, and I didn’t find out why he was on the West Coast, or rather one of the reasons he was supposed to be on the West Coast, until I picked up the morning papers. Riots? What decade is this? (And over trade issues? Is Pat Buchanan trying to jump-start his campaign?) I don’t know about the coverage back east, but it’s quite something out here. If you covered the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle–“Turmoil in Seattle Streets”–and just looked at the picture of official-looking guys with clubs and helmets and prole-looking folks in heavy coats and scarves, you’d think it was some Eastern European war zone.
Also on the front page of the Chronicle, a story about W.’s tax plan (is there no escaping the guy?), which I gather he’ll detail today in that hotbed of economic-policy analysis, Des Moines. Tax breaks for the working poor and no reduction in capital gains taxes … hmmm. I’m sure the conservative Republican establishment will fall right in line. Here’s my favorite part of the article: “Response to the Bush tax plan was swift. Even before knowing the details, Vice President Al Gore criticized it yesterday.” Even before knowing the details. Sheesh, couldn’t he have waited five seconds before attacking the guy? I can see it now: “Republican candidate George W. Bush said today that Tipper Gore is the sexiest woman alive. Even before knowing the details, Vice President Al Gore criticized Bush’s choice as a ‘hog.’ ” Actually, my fave Gore quote is that Bush’s plan is a “truly reckless tax scheme.” The new bogeyword of American politics: scheme. When a pol hates something these days, it’s never a proposal; it’s a scheme, as if Snidely Wiplash cooked it up in his evil lair.
And then there’s Hillary, attacking Rudy’s plan for the homeless in the Times and elsewhere. Let’s put aside the relative merits of how Rudy’s treated everyone but Christyne Lategano the last few years. The mayor has cleaned up New York City, made it liveable again–made it visitable again. Even if he’s been cruel to the squeegee guys–and, c’mon, he has–this is not an issue with legs for the first lady. There are a lot of Upper West Side libs who will publicly nod at her in assent but privately want the streets free of moochers and hookers and the like. I had hopes for Hillary, who seems senator material to me: smart and pompous and possessed with a regal bearing totally out of proportion to her dime-store roots. I’ve been saying for months that she can win–I’ve even got a $50 bet on the race with one of W.’s media guys, Stuart Stevens–and I still think her chances improve if your favorite political candidate of the millennium, Dollar Bill, gets the Democratic presidential nod and brings Knicks voters out of the stands and into the polling place. But she’s shown absolutely no traction so far, and if the next 11 months go the way I expect for the GOP, she’s gonna have to pull a rabbit out of her hat to win.
Or a joint. For a fleeting moment late last night, I thought I saw a reference on Drudge to some story about Hillary having acknowledged smoking pot. (Oh, do you think?) Sadly, it did not carry the typical inflamed/outraged/engorged Drudge headline – “First Lady in Spliff Shocker!” I’m with you on this: I think I’d respect her more knowing she spilled her share of bong water way back when. Maybe she even bongoes naked. Hillary-McConaughey in 2004: Talk about your Democratic par-tay.