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Politics: It's Best to Work Together
U.S. Senator Al D'Amato
Clinton Faces Personal Attacks
The election is over, but, judging from the behavior of some conservatives, you wouldn't know it.
Apparently unable to accept the judgment of America's voters, some right wingers have resumed their blind partisanship and their attacks on President Clinton.
Despite some early utterances by Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., about ending the consensus-shattering diatribes that began almost before Cllinton first ran for president, the same old tired personal charges -- including Whitewater and Travelgate -- have been resurrected.
And the issue of campaign finance reform, particularly involving foreign sources, had been raised again and stepped up by opponents of the president.
I find it hard to understand why Republicans are so obstinate about Clinton in light of his re-election victory. Personal attacks on Clinton obviously didn't work because they are disingenuous.
Americans had four years to watch Clinton in the White House, and they clearly liked what they saw. While he is politically saavy, he displayed none of the characteristics that the GOP, and their standard bearer Bob Dole, tried to lay on him. It hadn't worked for George Bush, either, and that was before Clinton had a chance to show what he could do in the Oval Office.
And, while Clinton tries to fend off the incessant, partisan attacks of Republicans, some liberals, too, are at his heels accusing him of moving too far toward the center -- and even nudging a bit to the right! Improvements in Mexico's economic situation have quieted some criticism about the trade agreement with that country, but Clinton's signing of welfare legislation and his stance on saving Social Security and Medicare have come under widespread criticism.
The whimpering of the Republicans is, unfortunately, to be expected, but Democrats should take a more enlightened view.
Sure, the welfare legislation was far from what Democrats and anyone with compassion might have wanted, but does anyone seriously think that a Democratic president can get 100 percent of what he wants when the American people chose to elect a majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress?
Clinton promised he will make an effort to fix the welfare legislation. While it's too late for many who already are suffering from the effects of the welfare changes, the future may hold something better for others. As long as the GOP holds its majority in Congress we can expect they will call many of the shots on Capital Hill. The president is not all powerful, and I'm sure we wouldn't want him to be.
Social Security Targeted
Conservatives are continuing their efforts to dismantle Social Security and Medicare -- now proposing to revise the way we measure the Consumer Price Index. The fiscal realities of the situation obviously call for changes, but there are ways to fix the program without draconian methods being pushed by fiscal conservatives.
One proposal for fixing Social Security has great promise; Creating retirement accounts for each worker in which his contributions, in lieu of taxes, would be held in his name until retirement. This would not be privatization, but rather personalization.
More importantly, let's not do anything rash!
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Jan. 25, 1997.