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Victory Takes Fun Out of Politics

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You are probably wondering what happened to all the Democratic harmony and good will you witnessed on Inauguration Day.

The love feast is over, and people are snapping at each other’s ankles.

Here’s the problem: For 12 years the Democratic cultural elite gathered in each other’s living rooms in Georgetown to cuss out the Republicans and their leaders. It was a contact sport, and everyone thrived on making patronizing remarks about President Reagan and President Bush. You didn’t need a log fire to keep warm.

All you had to do was hear someone say “Sununu” and the blood rushed to your head and you developed goose bumps all over.

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The choice of people to criticize for ruining the country was inexhaustible--starting and ending with Dan Quayle. As soon as the brandy was poured, it was open season on the Republican Party. As an opposition party the cultural elite was in fat city.

Then disaster struck. The country elected Democrat Bill Clinton to be President. By wresting power from the GOP and putting one of theirs in the White House, the Dems had taken all the fun out of American politics for themselves.

I know this because last week there was a gathering at George Stevens’ house. Instead of being in a festive mood, people appeared to be uncomfortable and ill at ease. I sensed it when Winnie asked me what I thought of Clinton’s inauguration speech.

I told her that I’d give it a B.

This enraged George who said, “Bill Safire gave it a B-plus on public television.”

I responded, “She didn’t ask me what Bill Safire gave it. She asked me what I gave it. Why are you so defensive?’

“If you go around telling everyone that Clinton only got a B, you could hurt his entire Administration and sabotage his plans to save the country.”

“I could?”

“When the cultural elite knock Clinton, how do you expect the rank and file to act? We should never discuss his flaws in public.”

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I asked George, “Are we allowed to criticize Clinton at all?”

“Sure,” he replied, “if he’s going to do something wrong, which he is certainly not going to do. I’m not saying that the Administration is perfect, but it’s awfully close to it.”

“What about the hat?” I asked. “Can I talk about Hillary’s hat?”

“What about the hat?” Harriet said. “I thought it looked very nice and it did match Tipper’s coat.”

“OK, forget the hat,” I conceded. “But I think it’s unfair for George to muzzle me for the next four years. I have to make a living, and just because we were all part of the golden age of Cap Weinberger doesn’t mean that I can’t be critical of the present White House. I’m sure that President Clinton wants us to point out errors when it’s in his best interests.”

The living room was divided between those who insisted that I remain politically correct about the President, and those who felt a gentle joshing would show people that Clinton supporters could laugh at themselves.

George led the PC group. “We’ve waited too long to have a person like you make light of the greatest leader in the free world. If you want to stoop to your juvenile media tricks, do it in someone else’s home.”

I left in a huff. It’s amazing what one li’l old Democratic presidential victory will do to lifelong friendships.

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