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1994 Elections: Is It the End of an Era?
Think Tank Transcripts:1994 Elections: Is it the End of an Era?
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MR. WATTENBERG: Hello. I'm Ben Wattenberg. Last week Americanvoters sent congressional Democrats to a crushing defeat. Does thislop-sided election signal a major realignment in American politics,or was it simply a natural swing of the electoral pendulum? Joiningus to sort through the conflict and the consensus are E.J. Dionne, aresident scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center forScholars and author of 'Why Americans Hate Politics'; Michael Vlahos,senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation; Karlyn Bowman,a colleague of mine and a resident fellow at the American EnterpriseInstitute; and Stephen Hess, senior fellow at the BrookingsInstitution and author of 'Live From Capitol Hill: Studies ofCongress and the Media.'
The topic before this house: 'The 1994 elections: Is this the endof an era?' This week on Think Tank.
Why did Americans vote the way they did? And where does thiselection fit in the American electoral history? Is it a post-New Dealrealignment, the rise of neo-populism, or did fed-up voters just wantto throw the bums out?
Nasty, aggressive and very expensive election campaigns were therule on both sides in 1994, but American voters turned out toregister their displeasure chiefly with the Democrats. TheRepublicans picked up well over the necessary 40 seats to wrestcontrol of the House from the Democrats for the first time in 40years. In the Senate, Republicans gained eight seats. Across thecountry powerful politicians lost to upstarts. Voters in the 5thDistrict of Washington ejected Speaker of the House Tom Foley. DanRostenkowski's Chicago voters ousted him after 36 years. Somethreatened Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy, Charles Robb and DianneFeinstein, held on to their seats, but in January Republican Bob Dolewill be majority leader of the Senate, and Newt Gingrich will be thenext speaker of the house.
E.J. Dionne, was this election and earthquake, a tidal wave, aso-called realigning election that you as a young man will have tolive with the consequences for the rest of your life?
MR. DIONNE: Well, I think it was a tidal wave, but like a lot oftidal waves, you don't quite know what the effects are going to bewhen it hits. I think part of it, especially in the South, was partof a continuing realignment toward the Republicans. And I think partof it was an expression of discontent that's been out there for someyears and could continue to take different forms as time goes on.
MR. WATTENBERG: Steve?
MR. HESS: Well, obviously any election that produces a RepublicanHouse for the first time in 40 years has to be at least a tidal wave.I think I may be a good deal more skeptical than some of mycolleagues about realignment. An electorate that throws outRepublicans two years ago and elects Democrats, two years laterthrows out the Democrats that they've just elected and electsRepublicans? Well, who knows what they're going to do two years fromnow?
MR. WATTENBERG: Karlyn?
MS. BOWMAN: Tidal wave, tsunami, watershed -- I'm not sure whatthe appropriate word is, but I'm not sure I'll see another electionlike this in my lifetime. The last time the Republicans won amajority of the popular vote for the House was 1946.
MR. WATTENBERG: That's almost half a century ago.
MS. BOWMAN: That's right. A major change.
MR. WATTENBERG: Okay. Michael?
MR. VLAHOS: Well, it could be a realignment, and it could be thebeginning of a long Republican stewardship, but that is going to haveto be up to them to create the vision that follows the shift inCongress. This happened in the 1890s, and that's Newt's favoriteperiod, and he brings up Mark Hannah a lot. In the 1890s you hadDemocrats controlling Congress for nine out of the 10 Congressesbefore then, and then suddenly it shifted by almost 100 seats, morethan 100 seats, in 1895. And that was followed up the next year by awatershed presidential election which decided the course for thecountry. And --
MR. WATTENBERG: That was William Jennings Brian versus --
MR. VLAHOS: Right. And McKinley. And basically --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- Grover Cleveland -- versus McKinley, right.
MR. VLAHOS: But basically you had a struggle going on betweenbackward-looking populists and forward-looking sort of immigrant,urban industrial Republicans, and the Republicans won out and set up35 years of dominance.
MR. WATTENBERG: So what you're saying is that this will be a --may well be a realigning election only if a Republican wins in 1996?
MR. VLAHOS: No, no. No, only if the Republicans capture a vision,and of course --
MR. WATTENBERG: Capture a vision? MR. VLAHOS: Yeah, they could winin '96 and still blow it, but --
MR. WATTENBERG: Oh, I understand.
But if a Republican president wins in '96 and they keep control ofboth houses, Steve, would you then --
MR. HESS: Well, when you talk --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- be convinced that --
MR. HESS: Yeah, sure, because you've got to have an event. Whenyou talk about realignments, we talk about Jackson, we talk aboutwhat happened in 1828 --
MR. WATTENBERG: Andrew, not 'Scoop.' (Laughter.)
MR. HESS: Andrew, not 'Scoop.' You talk about a realignment thatwas the Civil War, you talk about the realignment that Michael talkedabout with monetary and industrial policy after the panic of 1893,you talk about the Great Depression producing an alignment.
I don't think that there is a comparable issue today. I knowMichael disagrees with me, but he does it by collecting a variety of--
MR. VLAHOS: Issues aren't always clear.
MR. DIONNE: I think Michael's right in picking the 1890s as arelevant period, but I'm not sure we know it comes out quite thatway.
MR. VLAHOS: Yeah.
MR. DIONNE: Because I think what we're going through now as acountry is a kind of series of crises related to globalization,technological change. That's creating a lot of uneasiness amongvoters. It's the same kind of uneasiness that happened duringindustrialization in the period from the Civil War to the 1900s. Youcan talk about the realignment toward the Republicans with WilliamMcKinley, but that was also followed immediately by the ProgressiveEra, and I think you can make a case that the country could move inone of two directions. It could move toward a kind of conservativevision, or it could move toward something like the progressives didin terms of reform, including social reform.
MR. WATTENBERG: Now, you talk about the globalization of theeconomy and technological change, and I want to ask you all whatcaused the voters to vote as they did. But I want to mention one ortwo polls beforehand so you might get a slight clue as to what Ithink. Shortly before the election, a Washington Post/ABC -- E.J.,you work for The Washington Post -- an ABC -- a Washington Post/ABCpoll showed 68 percent of the public regarded social issues as themost important problem, while only 13 percent said it was economicissues.
MR. VLAHOS: But don't confuse the two. I mean, we're in a periodof economic transformation, just like the 1890s, and the socialdislocation that comes out of economic transformation is the issuethat affects people. Their lives are being torn apart. And that'swhat's going on.
MR. WATTENBERG: Hey, look, this social issue stuff -- I was justreading Barry Goldwater's 1964 --
MR. VLAHOS: Right.
MS. BOWMAN: Good choice.
MR. WATTENBERG: -- speech to the convention. He lists out thecrime and the welfare and all of these social issues as if it wascontemporary. This is -- this didn't just start.
MR. VLAHOS: No, it didn't, but now it's being --
MR. WATTENBERG: That's 30 years ago.
MR. VLAHOS: I agree with you, and it didn't just start in 1896either. That whole industrial transformation had been going on fordecades in the country. If you remember the labor disturbances of1876, all the depressions that went on -- there were threedepressions in the 1890s -- it culminates over a period of time, andwhat we're seeing is that people are finally confronting a realwatershed in their lives, and the economic transformation, which wecan call globalization, information revolution, is all bound up inthe change in American life. Americans are very uncertain. They'relooking for a vision of where we go from here.
MS. BOWMAN: But then I think --
MR. WATTENBERG: Let --
MR. HESS: Let's have the micro picture, though.
MR. VLAHOS: Okay, sure.
MR. HESS: We can get too macro about that. We've just gone throughan election where the polls, the most recent Washington Post poll,showed that three out of four Americans couldn't name their member ofCongress, where two out of three Americans who are eligible to votedidn't vote -- MR. VLAHOS: Right.
MR. HESS: -- where we have a uniquely unpopular president, where25 percent of the people simply detest him and detest him in a waythat's very interesting. When they detested Ronald Reagan, it wasideological, so there was a comparable group that loved him. There'sno comparable group here. These are really very unique situations inwhich I think we have to be very gentle in looking --
MR. WATTENBERG: You don't --
MS. BOWMAN: Ben, I think you're --
MR. WATTENBERG: Go ahead, Karlyn.
MS. BOWMAN: I think you're right that issues involving moraldisintegration of the society are weighing very heavily on people'sminds. And if you look back to the '50s, the last time this happened,Americans were concerned about our science and technology, could wecompete with the Soviets. And now the overwhelming concern in thepolls that I see is about moral fiber. I mean, that has manydimensions. It has economic dimensions. Are we going to be able tocompete with other people in Southeast Asia, for example? But it alsohas a great deal to do with the problems we have here at home, theones that we are not very confident that government can solve. Andthat's a sea change.
MR. WATTENBERG: Look, Steve, you said that it was unique -- aunique election in part because Clinton was so detested by so manypeople.
MR. HESS: Yeah, so to that degree it is a vote of confidence. Imean --
MR. WATTENBERG: Well, but wait a minute. Wait a minute.
MR. HESS: -- the beloved Tip O'Neill was not right that allpolitics is local.
MR. WATTENBERG: Right, but --
MR. HESS: Neither is all politics national. But there was an awfullot that had to do with Bill Clinton in this election.
MR. WATTENBERG: Yeah, but --
MR. HESS: Bill Clinton isn't going to be around forever.
MR. WATTENBERG: You're telling me. But the -- but suppose -- Imean, isn't there an ideological component to not liking apolitician? Suppose Clinton had governed as a new Democrat and he gotall the liberals angry, he coalesced with the Republicans in thecenter, in other words he governed the way he ran, as a new Democrat.I think three-quarters of those who hate him would be hailing him.
MR. VLAHOS: Well, what if it goes beyond ideology? I mean, what ifthe old paradigm, to use a 25-cent word, of government, abureaucratic, enlightened state that came out of the Progressive area--what if that just doesn't work anymore and in this period ofeconomic transformation people see that it doesn't work and theywouldn't through it out?
MR. WATTENBERG: Would you accept this distinction, that it is notsimply an anti-government vote, but it is ananti-what-government-does vote? And --
MR. VLAHOS: And an anti-bureaucratic state vote, because thebureaucratic state is collapsing in business. Businesses are not likeIBM and GM used to be -- pyramids. They are now adopting a totallydifferent architecture of relationship, and that's going intogovernment, and what's happening in this election is a reflection.
MR. WATTENBERG: Karlyn?
MR. VLAHOS: But --
MS. BOWMAN: Well, I think Republicans have to answer the questionabout whether this was an anti-Washington vote or an anti-governmentvote, and I don't think that that's clear. For example, if you lookat a lot of Republican governors who were elected, they thinkgovernment could do many things and they can do it well. Theystreamline government. It's a smaller government generally.
MR. VLAHOS: Right.
MS. BOWMAN: But I think Republicans have to answer that questionabout what the mood is about the city of Washington.
MR. DIONNE: And Karlyn is right about -- in pointing to thegovernors, because if you look at the governors elections, you didn'thave a lot of incumbents thrown out, with a couple of notableexceptions like Mario Cuomo. And the range of governors who werereelected --
MR. WATTENBERG: And Ann Richards.
MR. DIONNE: And Ann Richards, yes.
MR. VLAHOS: Right.
MR. DIONNE: But the range of governors reelected, they tended tobe, with a couple of exceptions, quite a moderate lot: Roy -- on theDemocratic side, Roy Romer of Colorado, Dean in Vermont. You hadpeople -- and then on the Republican side you had people likeVoinovich or Jim Edgar. These are problem-solving governors, and Ithink --
MR. HESS: E.J., you didn't have a lot of senators thrown outeither. You had Sasser and Wofford, two senators, thrown out. Inother words, look what happened there. George Mitchell decided hewanted to be commissioner of baseball or something else. He wouldhave been reelected. The seat went Republican.
MR. DIONNE: Boren might have been --
MR. HESS: Boren wanted to be governor -- wanted to be president ofOklahoma State University.
MR. WATTENBERG: Boren may run primaries as --
MR. HESS: Okay, he --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- against Clinton in my judgment, right.
MR. HESS: -- he would have won. If Lloyd Bentsen hadn't decided hepreferred to be secretary of treasury, he would be in the Senate.
MR. DIONNE: Al Gore.
MR. HESS: Yeah, Al Gore. So, you know, we could be sitting heretoday looking at a situation in which there's a perfectly logical --
MR. DIONNE: Yeah, but, Steve --
MR. VLAHOS: Bit this is part of what happens in Washington a lot,and this is one of the things you saw before the election. Peoplethought -- and I looked at the last Cuomo push, for example. It was awhole hour, and they thought that having all sorts of famous actorsendorsing him, trying to really manipulate and control people fromthe old standpoint of this ruling elite in Washington knowing how tocontrol elections, and it blew apart this time.
MR. HESS: Can't you just conclude that somebody after being inoffice for 12 years is worn out, that it wasn't a massive question ofindustrialization, but just that the people of New York were tired ofMario?
MR. VLAHOS: Well, I'm sure people in the 1890s were --
MR. WATTENBERG: Steve, when all the dominos or almost all thedominos -- you point to specific things, you know, Cuomo was 12 yearsand --
MR. HESS: Yeah, that's how politics is. It's a lot of littlepieces we put together and make -- MR. WATTENBERG: Yeah, but youcould put a lot of little pieces on the other side, but when all thedominos, or almost all the dominos, fall in the same direction,particularly in those open seats, where there's no incumbencyadvantage, and they all go roughly the same way --
MR. DIONNE: Absolutely.
MR. WATTENBERG: -- I would say, you know, you'd better starttalking realignment. This is big time stuff, particularly when youhave that lurking values issue that the Democrats had a shot at andClinton blew it.
MR. HESS: But you started off by saying that the Republicans aresaying what Barry Goldwater said. All you did is have a party thattakes a majority.
MR. DIONNE: But I think we --
MR. HESS: That's not realignment. That's the party has beensuccessful in basically what it stands for. It is a conservativeparty.
MR. DIONNE: I also think one of the things we're going to have tolook at more closely over time, is what was the nature of the turnoutin this election. See, I think that Clinton and the Democrats have avery large internal problem, that they got beat because they couldn'tcome together around a coherent program of government. And I thinkvoters were angry about that independent of their ideologicalposition, although there is certainly some ideological component toit. And then Clinton's problem in terms of his unpopularity is that,if you think of the group that's benefitted most from the recovery,they are by and large better off people because they were in a betterposition to benefit from the recovery. They didn't like Clintonbecause he raised their taxes or they were Republicans. The peoplewho would have been the natural Democrats, and I think many of themdidn't vote, were the people who haven't felt the recovery yet. Sothis side is disappointed, and the other side doesn't like Clinton'spolicies --
MR. WATTENBERG: Speaking of this side, this side of this panel isthe technocratic side, all right? They say, 'Well, there was allthese little' --
MR. DIONNE: I would never have said that --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- 'these little Rube Goldberg machines, and itdidn't quite work; we didn't quite get turned out.' And we some --
MR. DIONNE: Oh, no, I don't think it'd be a Rube Goldberg --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- ideologues over here.
MR. DIONNE: No, no, no. I don't think it's a Rube Goldbergproblem. I don't think this is, you know, pulling a few levers. Ithink this is really a matter, a deep matter, of how can Democratsgovern the country? Can -- new Democrats have said you've got torestructure the government, you've got to do a bunch of thingsdifferently. So-called old Democrats have said we've got to solvesome problems and use government. Clinton promised a synthesis, whichwas we're going to reform government -- that's the new Democrat side-- and we're going to use it -- that's the old Democrat side. And itdidn't --
MR. WATTENBERG: Hold on. I want to hear from some of theideologues here. Karlyn?
MR. DIONNE: Could I defend myself, though?
MR. WATTENBERG: Karlyn, was this election a rise of conservatism,sort of round two of the Reagan revolution?
MS. BOWMAN: I think we've seen a rolling realignment, and I thinkthe country is becoming more conservative over time, and -- thoughyou don't see that in the straight ideology numbers, but certainlyyou see that, I think, in the election that we had last week.
MR. VLAHOS: It's a different kind of conservatism, though. It'snot fiscal conservatism. It's not 'Let's be 20 percent less than theDemocrats.' It's not 'Let's be 20 percent less than FDR.' It's adifferent kind of vision. You talked about governors. It's becausepeople want to see power devolve to more local arenas. And when youlook at realignments in the past, at the time it occurs, it neverseems as obvious as it does in retrospect.
And basically, if you look at -- you saw the Times-Mirror survey,for example. You have different groups and constellation of votersmoving away from their former affiliations. The fact that Clinton wassuch a manifest failure in his promise to keep the old coalitiontogether is a sign of how far things have gone. You have a wholegroup of Perotistas basically who are right there to be grabbed bythe Republicans. You have a divide that isn't simply a divide ofideology; it's a divide of whether you look backward to thebureaucratic state or forward to a different concept of Americanlife.
MR. WATTENBERG: All right.
MR. DIONNE: Can I --
MR. WATTENBERG: Wait a minute. Hold it. I --
MR. HESS: I was writing that speech, though, for Eisenhower,though. I mean, really, seriously. (Laughter.) Seriously.
MR. WATTENBERG: What did you say, Steve?
MR. HESS: I say I was writing that speech for Eisenhower.
MR. VLAHOS: Oh, you still don't get it. (Laughs.)
MR. HESS: Let me say, is it not true that in the South at least,as E.J. started our discussion, this is a continuation, thecompletion, of a post --
MR. DIONNE: It started in '48.
MR. HESS: Certainly in '52 when Eisenhower took Texas and Floridaand Virginia.
MR. DIONNE: Virginia.
MR. HESS: So we had it at the presidential level. Then it moved tothe gubernatorial and senatorial. Now it's at the House level.
MR. WATTENBERG: I should point out to our audience that --
MR. HESS: We have completed --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- Stephen has --
MR. HESS: Yeah.
MR. WATTENBERG: -- although he's a man young -- short in tooth, ayoung man, started working in the Eisenhower administration.
MR. HESS: Yeah.
MR. WATTENBERG: He was three at that time. But -- and then youworked in the Nixon administration.
MR. HESS: Yeah.
MR. VLAHOS: Your micro-interpretation is very persuasive at themicro level, but you have to understand, I would hope, that there arethese periods when things shift and break in America.
MR. HESS: Absolutely. But, Michael, I --
MR. VLAHOS: And to deny that that's happening --
MR. HESS: No, no, no. Predictions -- I predict that tomorrow willbe like today on realignments, which means that I'm only wrong onceevery 40 years.
MR. VLAHOS: Right.
MR. HESS: I may be wrong now.
MR. VLAHOS: Okay.
MR. HESS: But the odds at least are with me.
MR. VLAHOS: You see, the --
MR. DIONNE: Could I throw one more element into the pot?
MR. VLAHOS: Go ahead. Sure.
MR. DIONNE: This is about a voter who realigned in this election.I was on the phone with one of my oldest friends, a historicDemocrats who voted straight Republican on Tuesday, and he said hewalked into his polling place and he saw a lot of people hang around,mostly guys, he said -- mostly middle-aged guys -- and he said thesewere people with kids. They were worried about bringing up theirfamilies. They thought it's their responsibility to do that. And hethinks a lot of these people voted Republican simply as an expressionof their deep belief that a certain kind of personal responsibilityshould rule and that the government isn't going to solve the problemsthat's in their heads. I think that --
MR. VLAHOS: You just hit it. Personal responsibility is the --
MR. DIONNE: I think that that --
MR. HESS: Did he move to the suburbs?
MR. DIONNE: Well, yes. And exactly right.
MR. VLAHOS: No, wait. He said different.
MR. DIONNE: I pointed out to him these were people who didn't needgovernment at all --
MR. VLAHOS: This is a really important point, though.
MR. DIONNE: -- and that that's the issue.
MR. VLAHOS: This is a really important point.
MR. DIONNE: That's exactly right.
MR. VLAHOS: That's the watchword of the future, is individual --
MS. BOWMAN: But government isn't even helping those people whoneed it, and I think that's one of the most serious problems, andthat's what part of this election was about. It's not helping peoplewho need it. And people want to see responsibilities devolve to thestates and local areas where more can be done. New federalism may beback -- Richard Nixon -- long after his --
MR. VLAHOS: Yeah, individual responsibility is really thewatchword.
MR. WATTENBERG: Now, wait a minute. Hold it. Let me just turn tosomething else. Who is going to be the next president and why?Karlyn, you can tell us that, I know that.
MS. BOWMAN: I wish I knew the answer. I don't know the answer tothat question.
MR. WATTENBERG: How many party -- how many people are going to berunning?
MS. BOWMAN: Oh, I think you could see a couple of independentcandidacies. I think you could see Clinton challenged from both theright and the left of his party.
MR. WATTENBERG: Who would challenge from the right and the left?
MS. BOWMAN: Casey in Pennsylvania. There's been some talk aboutthat, that he might challenge from the right.
MR. WATTENBERG: Uh-huh.
MS. BOWMAN: Jesse Jackson could run as an independent. There'sbeen some suggestion that David Boren could run as independent. ColinPowell -- no one knows yet whether he's a Republican or a Democrat.
MR. WATTENBERG: Bob Kerrey, we hear, might challenge Clinton.
MS. BOWMAN: Possibly. And the Republicans have obviously a verylarge group, and it's hard to -- for me to see who wins.
MR. VLAHOS: Yeah, the Republicans have two years to put together avision, and whoever best offers that vision most forcefully and mostauthentically will be the nominee.
MR. WATTENBERG: Is the --
MR. VLAHOS: No, no --
MS. BOWMAN: I'd like to believe that but --
MR. WATTENBERG: Go ahead.
MR. VLAHOS: No --
MS. BOWMAN: I said I'd like to believe that, but I think that whohas a lot of money at the beginning of this process because theprimary process --
MR. VLAHOS: Hey, we all know that, but let me finish on thisthough.
MR. WATTENBERG: Is the Contract for America a vision?
MR. VLAHOS: The Contract for America is something that was kind ofa groundwork and a first step, but I think you've got to go a lotfarther than that. You've got to talk about what's really happeningto America. But on the Democrat side, if Clinton moves to the newDemocrat to outflank the Republicans, you're going to see a thirdparty candidacy probably, and you're going to see --
MR. WATTENBERG: By Jesse Jackson --
MR. VLAHOS: -- the Democrats split up.
MR. WATTENBERG: Right.
MR. VLAHOS: So that's a real interesting prospect for the nextelection.
MR. DIONNE: First of all, I think Clinton could still be the nextpresident.
MS. BOWMAN: Yes.
MR. DIONNE: I think we are in such a strange and volatile moodthat I do not think we should rule that out as of now.
MR. VLAHOS: No, no, absolutely not.
MR. DIONNE: But I think the -- on the Republican side, a lot ofpeople are going to end up looking at these governors, because Ithink it's very important to see this election as a reaction againstDemocrats in Washington, but not against incumbents in the statehouses with those couple of exceptions, and that somebody like LamarAlexander is out there, I think, talking in very interesting termsabout how do you assemble a new Republican program. In fact, he'sgone back to the Progressive Era, too, and is talking about HerbertCrowley --
MS. BOWMAN: Absolutely.
MR. DIONNE: -- and what does a new Republican program look like. Ithink that's very interesting.
MS. BOWMAN: E.J., is it possible that those Republicans could runas favorite sons?
MR. HESS: Well, yeah, I would say that Clinton --
MR. WATTENBERG: Hold on. Let's get Karlyn's question. We'll cometo you.
MS. BOWMAN: My question to E.J. is could these Republicangovernors run as favorite sons? Because the primary process is overso early this time, about 60 -- what? Sixty-five percent of thedelegates are selected by March?
MR. HESS: You won't find that anymore. That was the way it used tobe --
MS. BOWMAN: They just won't buy it?
MR. HESS: -- before 1952. That's --
MR. DIONNE: I think that's very hard.
MR. HESS: It's interesting, but it's not going to --
MS. BOWMAN: But could they agree to think about it as a group and--
MR. DIONNE: But you could have --
MS. BOWMAN: It's -- I mean, it's just an interesting idea.
MR. DIONNE: It's an interesting question in the sense that theywouldn't be favorite sons in the old sense, but Pete Wilson couldwell carry California. Bill Weld could well carry Massachusetts andNew Hampshire.
MS. BOWMAN: Exactly. Christy Whitman.
MR. DIONNE: So you would have the effect of favorite sons withoutreal favorite sons.
MR. WATTENBERG: What about some of those Midwestern governors whoare so popular? I mean --
MR. DIONNE: Engler, Thompson --
MS. BOWMAN: Thompson.
MR. WATTENBERG: Engler, Thompson.
MR. HESS: Yeah, they're all good --
MS. BOWMAN: Edgar.
MR. HESS: -- vice-presidential candidates.
MR. VLAHOS: Yeah, you've got --
MR. WATTENBERG: Yeah, and therefore, couldn't they say to theirvoters: 'Look, you know, let me represent you out there; just -- I'monly running in this state. There are so many votes -- so many, youknow, convention votes here. Don't vote for any of those guys; votefor me.' And have a real convention?
MR. HESS: I would argue that, if Colin Powell turns out to be aRepublican, he'll be the Republican nominee. And it's not a visionwhere we're looking for, but it's a leader. We haven't got two yearsfor vision.
MR. VLAHOS: They go together --
MR. HESS: I would say that --
MR. VLAHOS: -- every time in America.
MR. HESS: -- Bill Clinton, although he's likely to get thenomination, is also a possibility to be the first incumbent presidentsince Chester Arthur in 1884 to be denied the nomination. So want toplay games? We can play it either way.
MR. WATTENBERG: All right. Let's -- we started with E.J. on a sortof round robin. Let us try that again as we close this discussion.What do you distill from this conversation that you agree upon anddisagree upon as a panel here? What would -- how would you --
MR. DIONNE: I think --
MR. WATTENBERG: -- sum up what we have just heard? MR. DIONNE: Ithink we agree that these elections were a big, big, big deal, and wedon't quite agree on what that deal means. I think that there is asense that something is roiling the country out there. I thinkeverybody agrees on that.
MR. WATTENBERG: Values, E.J.
MR. DIONNE: Yeah, I knew you'd say that.
MR. WATTENBERG: Yeah, I know you knew --
MR. DIONNE: And I think values is part of it. I think the kind ofeconomic change we're going through is part of it and affects thevalues. I think where we disagree is about how clear the direction ofthis change is. My own view is that we're in the middle of it andwe're not -- it's not clear, at least to me, what direction thischange is going to take.
MR. WATTENBERG: All right. Steve?
MR. HESS: Well, I certainly think in the short run, the next twoyears, that the president, blocked in terms of a legislative program,is going to be ironically the foreign policy president and thereinvent government president.
MR. VLAHOS: Yes, absolutely right.
MR. HESS: And that otherwise we'll go into the 1996 electionlooking for vision on both sides. The vision that E.J. suggests forClinton sort of coming down the middle I think is much too subtle andnuanced --
MR. WATTENBERG: Karlyn, how do you distill what we have learnedthis morning?
MS. BOWMAN: I agree with the agreement that we've just discussedthus far, but I think that the contract is a vision, albeit animperfect one. And there is some ground for Republicans to try tochange things in this city. But it's a very imperfect vision at thispoint.
MR. VLAHOS: This was the last hurrah of the progressive movement,and a historical era is finally over in American politics that wasprotracted far too long. And whether or not you see the Republicansrise with a new vision that carries them forward for 35 years ofdominance or not, you're still at the end of an old era and thebeginning of a new one.
MR. WATTENBERG: I agree we are at the end of an era, which asKarlyn knows I've been saying for -- what? How long? Fifteen yearsthat you've known me.
MR. VLAHOS: You've finally -- (laughter) -- MR. DIONNE: You'realways in the middle of a transition period. MR. WATTENBERG: Allright. Thank you, Stephen Hess, Karlyn Bowman, E.J. Dionne andMichael Vlahos.
And thank you. We enjoy hearing from our audience very much.Please send your comments to: New River Media, 1150 17th Street,N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. Or we can be reached via E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 'Think Tank,' I'm Ben Wattenberg.
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