The Breakfast Table

The Jesse Factor

Dear Stuart:

I love the Cravath story, which I am sure is just as true today, and could be repeated across the country. My great frustration is that so much political capital and energy has been devoted to the fight to save race-based preferences, when it is clear that the fight is certain to fail, and that preferences don’t accomplish what they should. And I believe that there are many in the Clinton administration who understand this as well as you and I, but that it is the worst sort of politics that makes Democrats unwilling to abandon the old-line politically correct position in support of preferences. Your old friend Jesse Jackson is making noises about running for president, which is almost certain to cow Democratic candidates into toeing the line so they don’t give him an issue.

What’s particularly ironic about this is that I’m convinced that one of the lessons Clinton clearly learned from 1984 and 1988 was the futility of trying to appease Jackson, and the huge price you pay for it. But what allowed Clinton to tell him off, as he did in ‘92, was the fact that Jesse had no delegates to the Convention, and therefore couldn’t make trouble. This is why he’s making noises again about running, which might be why Gore will continue (although I hope not) to give offensive speeches like the one he did last January in which he compared opponents of affirmative action who hide behind the term “color blind” the way hunters hide in a duck blind, and fell into the trap of impugning the motives of those who disagree with him (which is to say, calling them racists …)

But I don’t think you can blame Clinton for Dick Morris, at least not entirely. What galls me about Morris is not just the charges he makes, but the way they’re dealt with by the media. He’s a “consultant” to Fox News and there he is, with the aura of legitimacy, libeling those he disagrees with today, making up a secret police force based on no facts to support it, and going unchallenged, invited back, much sought after as a guest. It’s the television scandal industry, and it depends on people like Morris. In print, you have an editor … on television, people say whatever they damn well please, accusing people of things that are unsupported by facts, and now it’s time for a break … We’ll be back with more in a moment. Balance? Facts vs. opinions? Give me a break. You and I have always acknowledged a point of view in writing columns. But your head could spin trying to figure out who is reporting, who is opinionating, who has any basis for actually having an opinion, and who just looks pretty.

As for the papers, my favorite story (I promise no Clinton this afternoon) was the so-called friends of Hillary Clinton who told the LA Times page 1, above the fold that the president lied to her back in January, and that she believed him. My queries: Why are her “friends” telling the papers this? Are these friends? She’s out there defending him, they’re out there trashing him … or is it that they are trying to make themselves look better? Are we supposed to like her more for hearing this, like him less, think they are both crazy, or that we are?

As for Dukakis, who seems quaint for firing John Sasso over what would now be considered laughable, the point is he lost. We had nobody investigating Bush’s sex life, as far as I know. It wouldn’t have occurred to me. It isn’t why I did politics. I didn’t want to be in that business, and Dukakis wouldn’t allow it. He didn’t even like negative ads. Now he teaches. Clinton won. Carville and the crap I don’t like was part of it. This is the game until someone changes it. So far, all the movement seems to be in the other direction..

But enough of that. I’m going to read my horoscope. In the LA Times, they label it as entertainment. At least they’re honest about one section.

Best, Susan