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Uncivil War

Two emotions war within many of us as we contemplate the 1996 presidential election. Who could not be elated that the electorate is poised to reject the Gingrich agenda? The public's formation of a profoundly negative opinion of Newt -- despite little criticism from the major media -- renews a skeptic's faith in the populace.

Yet President Clinton and his party seem sadly unequal to the governing opportunity that may stretch before them. Tactically energetic, they lack soul. Clinton's Mephistophelian pact with his former political adviser Dick Morris was sealed in secrecy but not ignorance. The tabloid disclosures that have ensued seem consonant with our sense of the White House betrayal that may await us.

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The most powerful elected officials in this country (Clinton, Vice President Gore, Speaker Gingrich, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott) are all career politicians from the South. At the risk of stereotyping, one can say Southern politicians tend to exhibit two broad characteristics: volubility in the name of populism and cold ambition in the service of the rich. Oratory becomes an end in itself and gets pitched only to commonplaces -- values, family, security, and the like -- in order to divert attention from one's patrons.

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