4:47 p.m. Friday 8/30/96
To return to the most exciting subject. I think the Morris affair would have made no difference if Morris had been adviser to, say, Calvin Coolidge. But as matters stand, it only serves to confirm the impression of what kind of people “they” are, meaning the Clintons and their friends.
It is amusing to hear the Democrats say that they want a civil debate with no aspersions about “personalities” of the president and, particularly, of his family. Of course, they realize that they lose a contest about personalities. It is as if the Republicans were to say that the question of age should be ruled out of order.
Morris is being blamed for getting Clinton to betray Democratic principles and sign the welfare bill. There seems to be no recognition that the accumulation of evidence could convince even the most bleeding-heart liberal that the present welfare system is less compassionate than the one now adopted. There were suggestions before Clinton’s speech that he might explain that he had learned something, that he was no longer the green, young governor from Arkansas, and that his present policies were not just a poll-induced lurch to the center. I would have applauded that, but he didn’t do it.
There is no point trying to analyze Clinton’s speech as if it were an article in the Journal of Political Economy. It wasn’t. It probably didn’t have much effect on anyone, which is probably what the front-runner wanted.
Looking at both conventions, I have the feeling that each helped to solidify the party with its own base and neither did much to convert voters from the other party’s base.
Anyway, you can remember this season and tell your grandchildren that you were present at the end of the national conventions as we knew them.
I thank the panelists for remaining awake to observe these proceedings and for responding promptly with acute observations. Maybe we can get together again, after the election.
The Committee of Correspondence will resume on Sept. 9 with a discussion of “Is the Economy Great or Terrible, and Who Did It.”