THE RESPECTABILITY FIX | 2000-01-22
Bill Bennett was on CNN demanding that Bush and McCain order South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag. In case you have forgotten him, Bill Bennett is yesterday's media-beloved respectable conservative. He and his partner, Jack Kemp, fought hard for the position of Liberal's Most Beloved Conservative.
It seems like a long time now, but there was a time when Kemp was a darling of conservatives. He declared himself a "bleeding heart conservative," and the press ate it up. He was the John McCain of the mid-nineties. And he acted a lot like McCain is acting. The media would say something about how great he was, and he would giggle and say more things about how great minorities were and how unfeeling other conservatives were.
In 1996, Dole named Kemp as his vice presidential candidate. Then came the vice presidential debate with Gore. Kemp agreed with every nasty thing Gore said about how bad other Republicans were and how uniquely loving Kemp was. It got so bad even Dole's operatives were sickened by it.
Like Kemp, McCain always says something to put down conservatives and gladden the press. His trimmed-down tax cuts with all the right words about the poor was just what the media wanted. He denounced the Confederate flag as a symbol of bigotry and slavery. But then he said it was up to South Carolinians to decide what to do about it. I am sure he wanted to do what Bennett tells him to do, but he is desperate to win the primary here.
McCain hasn't gone over the edge yet, but four years ago, Kemp hadn't gone over the edge yet, either. But the media addiction is working on him.