The Republicans in '88

Conversations with the

candidates and an analysis of their candidacies


THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS THE PARTY OF REVOLUtion, and to Republican activists, 1980 is Year One. I found this outlook pervasive when I interviewed groups of delegates to the 1984 Republican National Convention for the Los Angeles Times. What did the delegates think of the Nixon-Ford-Kissinger foreign policy, which, polls showed, was still widely admired? Republican activists were unimpressed. “Who cares about those guys?” said one exasperated delegate. “That’s all over with. It’s prehistoric.”

History ended late last year. The Reagan revolution ran out of initiative exactly six years after it began. Its enemies did not bring it down. It simply collapsed. In part, the Administration was a victim of its own success. The President had done what he was elected to do—curb inflation and restore the nation’s sense of military security. What reason was there to continue the revolution? At the same time, Iranscam exposed the excesses of a revolutionary mentality. Reagan, a man of deep ideological convictions, attracted true believers to his Administration. He also prided himself on a management style that, in the words of the Tower commission, “places an especially heavy responsibility on his key advisers.” The combination of ideological fervor and disengaged management turned out to be explosive. It meant that zealots were tolerated and even encouraged in the White House, and that no one kept an eye on what they were doing. “None of this would have happened if Ronald Reagan were still alive” was the sardonic comment heard in Republican circles. That is precisely wrong. It happened because Ronald Reagan was very much alive.


Nineteen eighty-seven is Year One of the post-Reagan era. The problem is, Ronald Reagan is still in office. The revolutionary regime has outlived the revolution. Reagan himself is a lame duck, his effectiveness depleted and his popularity squandered.

Having been abruptly thrust into the post-revolutionary era, Republicans are scratching their heads and asking each other, “Now what?” These days, virtually all Republicans are conservatives who endorse the principles of the Reagan revolution, even if they dissociate themselves from its errors and excesses. What they have to figure out is how to change the regime while preserving the revolutionary tradition. It is very much like the problem Communist parties face when they have been in power too long. The problem is more serious for Republicans, however; unlike Communists, Republicans can be turned out of office.

All Republican Party leaders are Reaganites, just as all Communist Party leaders are Leninists. But that doesn’t prevent partisans of either persuasion from going off in different directions. Some Republicans are Old Bolsheviks, who fought at the glorious leader’s side during the great revolution. They see themselves now as guardians of the revolution, as keepers of the flame. But the glorious leader is no longer the hero he once was. His errors are being exposed. Although his close comrades will probably escape the unhappy fate of the Old Bolsheviks under Stalin, their support has been eroding quickly and their political future looks problematic.

Other Republicans are revisionists. They proclaim their loyalty to the Reagan revolution but say that their mission is to correct its mistakes. The more the mistakes that come to light, the more attractive revisionism looks. But revisionists have to be careful. If they go too far, they will raise questions about their commitment to the revolution. The line between revision and counterrevolution is a thin one.

Finally, the Reagan revolution, like all revolutions, has a Red Guard. These are the ideologues who talk about a bold new agenda aimed at extending the revolution. They preach an aggressive, not a defensive, conservatism, one that will bring new groups into the movement. They even dream about exporting the revolution to other countries.

During the next year, the Republican Party must decide which kind of conservatism—orthodox, revisionist, or radical—will be the party’s agenda for the future. The winner will end up in New Orleans, the losers in the political equivalent of Siberia.

Before the Revolution

THE CONSERVATIVE CONSENSUS IN THE REPUBLICAN Party was achieved only recently, and with considerable difficulty. Throughout most of this century the Republicans were as factionalized as the Democrats. But whereas the Democrats have traditionally been divided North against South, the major split in the Republican Party has occurred along an East-West line.

In the early part of this century the wing of the Republican party in the Midwest and the West was a hothed of progressivism, a doctrine that combined radical political and economic reform with isolationism. The eastern wing of the party tended to be economically conservative, internationalist, and big-business-oriented. The New Deal essentially eliminated the economic left of the Republican Party, by stealing the progressives’ economic thunder. Progressive Republican (and third-party) voters rallied behind FDR and were, for the most part, absorbed by the Democrats. After the progressives left, the remaining western and midwestern Republicans were mostly conservative and small-business-oriented, but were still staunchly isolationist.

Three Republican factions emerged after the Second World War: the parties of Wall Street, Main Street, and, eventually, Easy Street.

Wall Street was the eastern wing of the party. It was the Republican Party of Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, and Nelson Rockefeller. In a usage that must have been hopelessly confusing to Marxists, the Wall Street Republicans were usually considered to be the left wing of the party, since big business quickly learned to accommodate to and even prosper under the big-government economic policies of the New Deal.

Main Street was the midwestern wing of the Republican Party, its geographic and ideological center. Main Street Republicans were rural and small-town dwellers, bankers and small-business men—decent, honest, God-fearing, and tightfisted. The Republican Party of Main Street was the party of Robert Taft and Everett Dirksen, of Arthur Vandenberg and Gerald Ford.

These two wings of the party found themselves in a confrontation shortly after the Second World War. Main Street Republicans were “real Republicans,” who longed to turn the clock back to pre-New Deal America and who displayed more than a tinge of isolationism. Wall Street Republicans were “me-too Republicans” and staunch internationalists, motivated by economic self-interest and businesslike pragmatism. The showdown came in 1952, when Eisenhower, the candidate of Wall Street, defeated Senator Taft, of Ohio, for the Republican nomination.

The remainder of the 1950s saw a gradual reconciliation between eastern and midwestern Republicans. Many leading midwestern figures, like Senator Vandenberg, of Michigan, had already converted to internationalism, as a result of the Second World War. The Cold War converted the rest of the isolationists, who had objected to America’s alliance with the left but now supported a foreign policy of militant anti-communism.

Easy Street, the Republican Parry of the nouveau riche, is an altogether new phenomenon. It appeared quite suddenly in the suburbs and boomtowns of the Sun Belt, a part of the country that had never been a center of Republican strength. Easy Street Republicanism first became visible with the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater, in 1964, when Goldwater challenged and defeated the eastern establishment of the party, as represented by Rockefeller and William Scranton.

The Easy Street wing of the party espouses a vigorous, populist, anti-establishment conservatism that appeals to many working-class voters and Democrats, particularly on social issues and foreign policy. In 1964 the Goldwater movement attacked the bipartisan foreign-policy consensus that accepted peaceful coexistence with communism. In 1976 Ronald Reagan ran against his own party’s policy of détente. The backlash against civil rights also contributed to Goldwater’s southern support in 1964 and to the Republican Party’s subsequent rapid growth in the South. The 1968 Wallace vote, for example, which was almost entirely an expression of racial backlash, was essentially folded into the 1972 Nixon vote; Nixon’s worst state in 1968, Mississippi, became his best state in 1972. Outside the South, racial and social-issue backlash brought a good many white ethnics into the Republican Party. What had once been an exclusive club for the WASP elite now found itself overrun with Irish and Italian Catholics, the so-called Archie Bunker vote. The most dramatic example is the Republican Party of New York. A party once led by Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, Kenneth Keating, and John Lindsay now counts as its top office-holder Alfonse D’Amato, who was resoundingly re-elected in 1986 in a straight two-party race.

Look at the career of Richard Nixon, the dominant figure in postwar Republican politics. Although he started his career as a Communist-hunter, by 1960 Nixon was Eisenhower’s boy, the candidate of the Wall Street wing of the party. When he ran for President again in 1968, Nixon tried to repair the Goldwater calamity by presenting himself as a centrist—a Main Street Republican and party regular who avoided divisive ideological positions and promised to “bring us together.” It helped that his principal opponents for the Republican nomination were Reagan on the right and Rockefeller on the left. Nixon chose an eastern liberal as his running mate—Spiro Agnew, of Maryland, a Rockefeller supporter whose nomination was seconded by John Lindsay.

By 1972 Nixon had become the candidate of the Sun Belt, of San Clemente and Key Biscayne. He was tough in Vietnam and an uncompromising foe of liberals and radicals. Thus, in three presidential campaigns Richard Nixon traveled clear across the Republican Party spectrum, from left to center to right, and on into oblivion.

The final reconciliation between Main Street and Wall Street Republicans came in 1974, when President Gerald Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller his Vice President. Reagan, when he challenged Ford for the 1976 nomination, tried to undo this alliance by designating Senator Richard Schweiker, of Pennsylvania, as his prospective running mate. Reagan gambled that eastern Republicans, who controlled the margin of victory at the convention, would not see much difference between a Main Street conservative like Ford and an Easy Street conservative like himself. He was wrong, although his move did shake up the convention and keep his candidacy alive for a while. Ford’s eventual choice of Senator Robert Dole, of Kansas, as his running mate did little to placate the Reagan forces, who saw Dole as just another Main Street Republican.

The triumph of the Easy Street Republicans came with Reagan’s victory in 1980. George Bush’s decision that year to minimize his ideological differences with Reagan signaled the capitulation of moderate Republicans. Essentially, the Easy Street Republicans won control of the party and made their revolution. The Wall Street and Main Street Republicans have remained in the party, but only on Reagan’s terms.

As the former senator Paul Laxalt said this year, “The old rift in the party, between a Goldwater and a Rockefeller, just doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone will be running as a Reaganaut.” Indeed, all the candidates for the 1988 Republican nomination arc Easy Street conservatives. Representative Jack Kemp, the Reverend Marion G. (Pat) Robertson, and Laxalt all have roots in that wing of the party. The two candidates who originated in the Wall Street wing, George Bush and Pierre ("Pete”) du Pont, the former governor of Delaware, have both shed their moderate skins and become converts to the Reagan faith. Bob Dole, the Senate minority leader, came from the Main Street wing of the party but made a point of assiduously courting the Republican right during his two years as majority leader. Dole has a solidly conservative voting record and has established his credentials as someone who can deliver for the right. Thus, when conservatives claim that they have no candidate to rally behind in the 1988 primaries, as they have been doing lately, they are not quite telling the truth. The truth is, they have all the candidates.

Keepers of the Flame

VICE PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH HAS ONE ADVANTAGE and one disadvantage as a candidate for President in 1988. Both of them are Ronald Reagan. Since the outbreak of the Iran controversy, it has become clear that Bush’s fortunes are tied to those of the Administration. Bush’s life-or-death dependency on Reagan can be seen in the polls. In a survey taken in late January by CBS News and The New York Times, three out of five Americans disapproved of President Reagan’s handling of foreign affairs. Among Republicans who supported Dole for the 1988 nomination, four out of five disapproved. Bush supporters, however, were one of the few groups in the survey to approve the President’s foreign policy. Polls of Iowa Republicans taken early this year showed Dole running ahead of Bush for the nomination. But polls of New Hampshire Republicans taken at the same time indicated that Bush was still ahead of Dole in that state. The explanation? Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s approval ratings have been running low in Iowa as a result of that state’s devastated farm economy. New Hampshire, however, is part of the New England boom economy. Reagan’s popularity has been holding up well in New Hampshire. Consequently, Bush’s has too.

In other words, Bush remains a viable candidate for the Republican nomination as long as the Reagan Administration retains its base. “Your base,” a politician once said, “is the people who are with you when you’re wrong.” Reagan was wrong on Iran. The Tower commission has said so, and the President has admitted as much. Although hardcore Republicans and conservatives were shocked at the spectacle of their President selling arms to the Ayatollah Khomeini (very few rallied to the call by the former White House communications director Patrick J. Buchanan to “start firing from the upper floors”), they did not desert Ronald Reagan. For that matter, during Watergate most Republicans stuck with Richard Nixon until the White House tapes were published. Only when they read evidence of Nixon’s appalling lack of decorum did they start falling away. So far the Reagan Administration has not been discredited with its base. A base values loyalty to its leader, and that is exactly what Bush stands for. “I’ve never considered loyalty a character flaw,” the Vice President said while he was campaigning in Iowa.

In other words, George Bush lives, and that has got to be regarded by Democrats as good news. They see Bush as the weakest possible candidate on the Republican ticket—and for good reason. Loyalty to an Administration discredited with all but its hard-core supporters is no great source of strength. The problem is not unique to Bush, however. In any Administration the quality that makes for a successful Vice President is loyalty. That same quality makes for a poor presidential candidate, however. Voters do not value “loyalty” in a President; they value independence and leadership, the image of a candidate as “his own man.”

That is the vice-presidential trap. The stronger and more popular the President, the more he diminishes his Vice President by comparison. But a Vice President cannot desert a weak and unpopular President for fear of incurring the charge of disloyalty. As it was put to me by Walter Mondale, who should know, there is about the office a “dependency smell.” The smell doesn’t seem to bother partisans, and so a party unable to renominate its incumbent typically nominates its most recent Vice President— Nixon in 1960, Humphrey in 1968, Mondale in 1984. But dependency apparently does matter to the larger electorate; none of these candidates won the ensuing general election.

Everyone in American politics, including George Bush, is aware of this problem. Bush knows that he is under pressure to differ from Reagan’s policies, to reveal a message or vision of his own. But he also knows that the minute he distances himself from the Reagan Administration, he risks giving up his strongest advantage. So far he has played it safe and been impeccably loyal. He has done no more than hint at his own priorities. At “Ask George Bush” forums in Iowa last March the Vice President suggested that the federal government could play a greater role in educating people about the dangers of AIDS, expressed the view that, “regrettably,” the condition of education in the United States was not what it should be, and called for a greater emphasis on fostering democracy and economic development in the Western Hemisphere. None of these could be labeled a significant departure.

For Bush, Iran has been a classic no-win situation. After the scandal broke, reporters spent months trying to demonstrate that the Vice President was deeply involved. The principal disclosure was that Bush had been informed by an Israeli official that the United States was dealing with radicals, not moderates, in Iran. The Vice President had then, he explained, expressed “certain reservations on certain aspects” of the policy. The Tower commission could find no evidence of this, however. After the commission’s report was released, Bush remarked that he took “no pleasure in the fact that I got very little ink.” In response to chuckles from the audience he added, “Oh, maybe I do.”

Soon, however, people began asking a different question: Why wasn’t the Vice President more involved in the policy? He was supposed to be the crisis manager on the National Security Council, the chief foreign-policy professional in the White House. He should have known that the arms deal was a bad idea and would never work. “The Vice President is noteworthy more for his absence than his involvement in this whole unfolding tragedy,” Edmund S. Muskie, a member of the Tower commission, said. When President Reagan was asked at his March 19 news conference whether Bush had objected to the arms sale, he answered, “No.” The next day the White House had to explain that Bush did “express reservations” to the President about the deal but that the Vice President “always supported the policy and the decisions.” “There did appear for a fleeting moment to be a misunderstanding,” Bush said afterward. Poor George Bush. Whether he was involved or uninvolved in Iranscam, he ended up, as he told his Iowa supporters, “catching the dickens” over it.

One of Bush’s strengths as a candidate is his résumé. He built a successful oil business. He served two terms as a congressman from Texas. He lost two Senate elections (good for humility). He was the chief United States delegate to the United Nations. He was the chairman of the Republican National Committee (during Watergate, no less). He was the U.S. envoy to China. He was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He ran for President. And he was elected and re-elected Vice President of the United States. One can almost hear the echo of Walter Mondale in 1983: “I am ready to be President.”

But Bush’s career is nothing if not an establishment career. And this is still very much an era of anti-establishment politics. That is one reason why movement conservatives, who see themselves as an anti-establishment force, continue to distrust him. No matter how loyal Bush has been to the Reagan revolution, he still looks and acts like the kind of Republican the New Right set out to destroy twentythree years-ago. Last year Richard A. Viguerie, the former publisher of Conservative Digest, wrote a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal detailing Bush’s sins. He had a moderate voting record in Congress. He did not give ideological direction to the Republican Party. He received an award from the Ripon Society, “a club of John Anderson—type Republicans.” In his 1980 campaign he called Reagan’s economic proposals “voodoo economics,” a term that has stuck to Bush more than it has stuck to Reagan. His inner circle includes not a single “movement conservative.”

And—the unpardonable sin—Bush was well born. Viguerie quoted Bill Baxley, the lieutenant governor of Alabama, who, in 1984, called Bush “a pin-stripin’ poloplayin’ umbrella-totin’ Ivy Leaguer, born with a silver spoon so far back in his mouth that you couldn’t get it out with a crowbar.” Whether the charge is fair or unfair is not the point. The point is that the Republican Party has not dared to nominate a candidate born to wealth and privilege since Charles Evans Hughes. Democrats can get away with it (Roosevelt, Kennedy). Republicans can’t.

Reportedly, the day after the 1984 New Hampshire primary, Bush approached Senator Gary Hart on the Senate floor. After congratulating Hart on his dramatic primary victory Bush asked him what plans he had made for the Maine caucuses the following week. “This is all happening very fast,” Hart replied. “We’re just playing it by ear.” Bush then informed Hart that his summer place in Kennebunkport was currently vacant, and if Hart needed a place in Maine to relax and unwind, “just say the word—it’s yours.” There are two ways of reading this episode. One is that George Bush is a nice guy, which is undoubtedly true. The other is that he has an establishment mentality, a preppie outlook that sees politics as a game (with Hart playing in a different league). The good sportsman, not the true believer. Bush’s style of conservatism was captured by the cartoonist Herblock last year, when in a caption he referred to Bush as waving a pennant that read, “Go Contras!”

Bush is a reasonable and serious man who looks at an issue from all sides, even if, in the end, he always supports the Administration’s position. When I met the Vice President in his White House office last year, the subject of trade came up. “There are no virgins in the field of trade protection,” Bush told me. “But to the degree an Administration can keep the pressure on for one road or another, we should keep the pressure on for no protection, or for less protection, or for not going further down the protection road.” He called the Strategic Defense Initiative “a moral answer to the question of nuclear arms,” while admitting that “the doctrine of mutually assured destruction has worked.” But, he added, “that doesn’t mean we can’t think of a new and better way to do it with less risk to mankind.” About Central America he said, “The worst thing we could do is impose U.S. power. That would revive and solidify all the countries against us, including the democratic countries. I don’t think we have to learn that lesson from Vietnam. We have to learn that lesson from our own history and our own hemisphere.” He said he welcomed the religious right’s involvement in politics. “They should be active. But I don’t plan to roll over and say, ‘Hey, take over the Republican Party.’ For somebody like me—no.”

Sensible, informed, pragmatic—not the kind of thinking one usually associates with movement conservatives. Or with President Reagan, for that matter. Bush’s strategy so far has been to split the Republican right and keep any potential rival from building a base among conservatives. Toward that end he has praised the Reverend Jerry Falwell for “the moral vision you have brought to our political life.” And he spoke at a tribute to the late William Loeb, the right-wing publisher of the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leader, who reviled George Bush during the 1980 campaign. Bush’s strategy has worked. The conservatives have so far shown no inclination to coalesce on a single alternative. On the other hand, his courting of the right occasioned a savage attack by the influential columnist George Will, who depicted Bush as a phony and a panderer. “The unpleasant sound Bush is emitting as he traipses from one conservative gathering to another,” Will wrote, “is a thin, tinny ‘arf’—the sound of a lapdog.”

And then there are the jokes. The Doonesbury cartoon depicting Bush committing his manhood to a “blind trust.” The Washington Post’s characterization of Bush as “the Cliff Barnes of American politics: blustering, opportunistic, craven, and hopelessly ineffective, all at once.” The crack that he’s the sort of man who reminds every woman of her first husband. The “wimp” factor. Democrats salivate at the prospect of running against Bush. They remember his shrill and frantic demeanor in the 1984 vice-presidential debate with Geraldine Ferraro. And his pseudo-macho posturing the next day, when he commented that he’d “kicked a little ass” in the debate. All this matters because it says something important about Bush. He bleeds. As David Keene, formerly Bush’s national political director and now a Bob Dole operative, puts it, “He sends out a message of personal instability. . . .Bush is not seen as a stable commodity.”

Still, for several reasons Bush remains the front-runner for the 1988 nomination. He has been around the track before. He is likely to do well in the crucial early caucuses and primaries—in Michigan (where last year he scored a decisive victory over Kemp and held off Robertson in the selection of precinct delegates), in Iowa (where he beat Reagan in 1980), and in Texas, his home state. And he can raise the big money needed to compete in the fourteenstate “Mega-Tuesday” primaries, which are now scheduled to take place three weeks after the New Hampshire primary.

The continuing Iranscam revelations pose the biggest threat to Bush’s candidacy, particularly as the investigations focus on the diversion of funds to the contras. Bush could be discredited indirectly if it is discovered that President Reagan knew about the diversion of funds. Evidence that Reagan lied to the American people would demoralize the President’s supporters and devalue the appeal of Bush’s loyalty. Bush would also be discredited if he were found to have been aware of or personally involved in the illegal transfer of funds. His national-security adviser is already known to have played a key role in resupply operations for the contras. Any disclosures along these lines from Oliver North or John Poindexter and George Bush’s presidential candidacy will, in his own immortal words, end up in “deep doo-doo.”

ONE POLITICIAN WHO SEEMS KEENLY AWAKE OF Bush’s liabilities is Paul Laxalt. “A Vice President, in order to be a good Vice President, loses his credibility,” Laxalt told me when I visited him at his Senate office. “He appears to be a Charlie McCarthy. He has no views of his own. That’s the essential reason, I think, historically Vice Presidents haven’t made it [to the presidency]. It’s a loser job.” The view that George Bush is unelectable appears to have motivated Laxalt to get into the race. “George is obviously the front-runner,” he added, “but it’s wide open.”

Laxalt has the informal status of “First Friend.” He was elected governor of Nevada the same year Reagan became governor of neighboring California. He is one of the original Reaganites, having served as the chairman of Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign. He has acted as Reagan’s personal emissary in the Senate, his envoy abroad, and the general chairman of the Republican Party during the Reagan presidency. Laxalt is known to be a personal favorite of Nancy Reagan’s, whereas Bush is believed not to be.

In short, Laxalt is the person best qualified to challenge Bush’s credentials as keeper of the flame. Laxalt is clearly worried that if Bush is nominated, the flame will go out. “My strongest reason [for running],” he said last year, “would be that the Reagan program and policies be perpetuated beyond Ronald Reagan.” Laxalt’s candidacy creates serious problems for Bush. Laxalt has a prior claim on the loyalty—and money—of the old Reaganites. Any partiality the President might show toward Bush will vanish if Laxalt becomes a full-fledged candidate.

Laxalt is not only close to Reagan—he even resembles Reagan in style and temperament. Laxalt is viewed as sharing Reagan’s best character traits—notably a sense of personal security and of decency. In explaining why Reagan has been successful as President, Laxalt told me that “people like and trust him—those are very important elements in this business.” I asked, “Would you describe yourself as sharing those characteristics?” “Oh, yes,” he replied. “We’re exactly on the same wavelength when it comes to that.”

At another point in the interview I asked Laxalt what he regarded as his principal achievements in twenty-four years in public life. His answer in this case was notably different in tone. “Oh, boy. I’d have to think about that,” he said after a pause. “I’m not comfortable with self-serving situations.” Laxalt, unlike Reagan, has no record as a leader. His colleagues say that he never delivered a memorable speech in twelve years as a senator. He did not run for majority leader. The only time he played a leadership role on a major issue was in the fight against ratification of the Panama Canal treaties—a fight that he lost. In fact, there is no evidence that he is any better prepared than Bush to offer “a new beginning, a new horizon” in the 1988 campaign. “I don’t have any grand vision yet,” he has been quoted as saying. “Wish I did.”

Laxalt’s conservatism is like his temperament—relaxed. There is little of the fervor one finds among movement conservatives, or in Ronald Reagan. About defense spending, he told me, “I’m increasingly concerned about the cost of defense. I just wonder how much water there is in that $300 million. I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that Eisenhower was probably right: watch out for the military-industrial complex.”

Imagine Ronald Reagan saying that.

His attitude toward the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua was equally placid, if a bit confused.

“I’d like to see the Sandinistas be replaced, peacefully,” Laxalt said. “That’s as far as we’re concerned. I have no problem with the contras doing their thing.”

Want to hear a relaxed ideology? I asked Senator Laxalt for his view of progressive taxation. “Depends on the times,” he said.

“What about right now?” I asked.

“Right now, I don’t really believe in it.” One achievement Laxalt can take credit for is serving as Reagan’s personal envoy to Ferdinand Marcos, in the Philippines. I asked him whether the Administration had learned anything from its experiences in the Philippines and Haiti. “As far as those events being object lessons that have changed Administration policy, I don’t know,” the Senator said. “I think those events just plain happened.”

WELL, NO. WHEN THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION came to power, in 1981, the President endorsed the foreign-policy views that Jeane Kirkpatrick, then an obscure political-science professor, had expressed in a 1979 magazine article.

Using the examples of President Carter’s allegedly failed policies in Iran and Nicaragua, Professor Kirkpatrick argued against “the pervasive and mistaken assumption that one can easily locate and impose democratic alternatives to incumbent autocracies.” But she observed, too, that “the history of this century provides no grounds for expecting that radical totalitarian regimes will transform themselves.” In the case of authoritarian regimes friendly to the United States, our policy should be to encourage liberalization and democracy, Kirkpatrick argued, not threaten revolution. In the case of radical Marxist regimes, encouragement will do no good; they will respond only to threats.

The Democratic line has been precisely the reverse: threaten the right, encourage the left. The party’s 1984 platform, for instance, threatened maximum pressure against the apartheid regime in South Africa, on which the Democrats wished to impose economic sanctions and an arms embargo. While recognizing “the undoubted Communist influence” on left-wing insurrections in Latin America, the platform stressed “the indigenous causes of unrest” in these countries and called for “social, economic and political reforms” that would accommodate the “legitimate forces of change. ” The Democrats’ proposed policy toward Cuba and Nicaragua was not to threaten them militarily but to encourage change and reward it by improving relations.

The Democratic view is that sanctions against right-wing dictatorships, which are often dependent on U.S. support, can bring about effective change, whereas the United States has much less leverage against Communist regimes. Kirkpatrick argued that it is dishonest and usually counterproductive to threaten our friends while offering to stabilize relations with totalitarian countries of the left.

Then, all of a sudden, came the revolutions in Haiti and the Philippines. The Reagan Administration discovered, more or less by accident, that sometimes it was in our best interest to take a tough line with rightwing dictators like Jean-Claude Duvalier and Ferdinand Marcos and even to help depose them. Moreover, such actions were applauded not only by liberals but by a broad spectrum of the American public, because they were accomplished with a minimum of effort or involvement.

The Reagan Administration took advantage of the situation. On March 14, 1986, the President sent a message to Congress proclaiming the Administration’s commitment to “democratic revolution” around the world and pledging to use American influence to encourage democratic change. The document included this Carteresque assertion: “The American people believe in human rights and oppose tyranny in whatever form, whether of the left or of the right.” Haiti and the Philippines were indeed object lessons that changed American foreign policy. Yet Senator Laxalt, who was intimately involved in the American response to those events, somehow failed to grasp their significance.

Laxalt’s moral attitudes are as relaxed as his thinking. He is a divorced Catholic. As governor of Nevada, he supported legalized gambling and legalized local-option prostitution. “Taking money from gamblers [in Nevada politics] is like taking auto money in Michigan,” he has said. He has described Nevada as a “live-and-let-live state,” and he says that he straddles the line between fundamentalists and libertarians—“That’s where I am.” He is not relaxed when it comes to his reputation for personal integrity, however. In 1984 he filed a libel suit against the owners of the Sacramento Bee as a result of an article charging that money was illegally skimmed from gambling proceeds at his family’s casino. The trial date has been set for June 23, but because of a pretrial ruling allowing the reporter to keep his sources confidential the case may prove difficult to resolve.

Laxalt retired from the Senate last year, but he promised the Reagans that he would stay in Washington for the remainder of the current Administration. He suffered a political setback in November when Jim Santini, a Democrat-turned-Republican whom Laxalt had favored as his successor, lost the Nevada Senate race. As for his presidential plans, he formed an exploratory committee in April and announced that he was “about as close as you can get” to declaring his candidacy. Reagan’s loss of popularity as a result of Iranscam removes the strongest justification for Laxalt’s candidacy. If the public is dissatisfied with Reagan’s performance, why should it vote for a Reagan replicant? Laxalt’s case seems especially weak now that the Tower commission has criticized the President’s “disengaged” management style and his inattention to detail. Those arguments, plus his “Nevada problem,” plus his lack of a strong leadership record or a rallying cry for his campaign, may keep Laxalt, who says he won’t run unless he can raise $2 million by October, out of the race. In which case, as a retired senator and a friend of the President’s, he could just relax.

Princes of the Senate

THE SURGE OF ANTI-DEMOCRATIC VOTING IN 1980 gave the Republican Party a net gain of twelve Senate seats and a majority in that chamber for the first time since 1954. The majority lasted six years. For the first four years the majority leader was Howard Baker, Jr., of Tennessee. Baker, who had been a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, gave up his Senate seat in 1984 for the explicit purpose of considering another try for the presidency. “My perhaps excessively cute remark during the 1980 campaign,” Baker told me last year when I called on him at his Washington law office, “was that we are going to see if you have to be unemployed to run for President.”

Bob Dole, who succeeded Baker as the Senate majority leader, was the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1976 and, like Baker, made an abortive run for the presidency in 1980. Dole assumed the majority leadership for the same reason Baker gave it up—to help position himself for another presidential campaign. “Well, one of us is wrong,” Dole quipped. Dole gained considerable visibility and stature after taking over as the majority leader. Baker seemed to disappear for two years, although he never gave up his presidential ambitions. Last February, when President Reagan summoned him to take over as White House chief of staff, Baker was meeting with his family in Florida to discuss his plans for 1988. “I had pretty much made up my mind to run,” Baker said after accepting the White House position.

Ironically, by taking himself out of the 1988 race, Baker may have enhanced his prospects for eventually becoming President. No one had counted Baker as a serious contender for the 1988 nomination. He was too moderate, too establishment, no longer a “player” in national politics. A loss in 1988 would most likely have ended Baker’s career in national politics.

Now Baker is definitely a player. But what game is he playing? Many conservatives expressed horror at his appointment, which seemed to symbolize the takeover of the Reagan Administration by the Washington power elite. But it also symbolizes the eagerness of the Republican establishment to come to terms with Reaganism. As much as Reagan is using Baker to rescue his presidency, Baker is using Reagan to restore his standing in the Republican Party. “He is our President,” Baker said after assuming his new job, “and our dedication is to see that it looks good after eight years.” Or, as they say in advertisements for beauty products, “We don’t look good if you don’t look good.”

Baker regards himself as a Reaganite. But he expresses a distinctly revisionist view of President Reagan, referring to him repeatedly during our interview as an “establishment President.” He said, “I think there has indeed been a Reagan revolution. But I don’t think it is an anti-establishment revolution. That might be the rhetoric, but that is not the reality of it.” He praised Reagan not for his ideological leadership but for his skill at coalition management: “To be able to hold diverse groups together for a common purpose even though they have disparate objectives— Reagan does that better than anybody I ever saw except Roosevelt.”

What Howard Baker brings to the White House is professionalism. What the White House gives Baker is a record of commitment to the cause. There is even talk of Baker’s becoming a compromise presidential candidate in 1988 if the party remains stalemated after the early primaries. “To the extent Howard is seen as having rescued the Reagan presidency and restored a sense of credibility to the White House, it could happen,” Senator William Cohen told Newsweek in March. “It’s a long shot, but not inconceivable.” In fact, it is probably less of a long shot than were his prospects for winning the nomination before he became chief of staff. In accepting the job, Baker most likely made a realistic assessment of his chances for the 1988 nomination, as well as the Republican Party’s chances of retaining the White House next year. He may have decided that 1992 (when he will be sixty-six years old) looked like a much better year and that a tour of duty in the Reagan Administration would give him much stronger credentials than a humiliating defeat at the polls.

BOB DOLE, LIKE HOWARD BAKER, IS A PRINCE OF THE Senate. He became nationally known first as his party’s vice-presidential nominee, in 1976, and later as a result of serving as the Senate majority leader. The majority leadership has done Dole a lot more good than his nomination for Vice President did. Dole seemed to diminish in stature during the 1976 campaign, when he came across as a nasty and narrow-minded partisan (during the vice-presidential debate with Walter Mondale he referred to the two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam as “Democrat wars”). Four years later Dole ran seventh in the New Hampshire primary, garnering 597 out of 150,000 votes. The Republicans’ loss of the Senate majority last year might have been a blow to Dole’s stature, but within a few weeks of that defeat Dole became his party’s hottest property. What did it for him was his deft handling of the Iran issue.

Hardly a day passed last November and December when Dole’s name was not at the top of the news. He pressured the Administration for full and immediate disclosure of all details relating to the Iran arms deal. He called for a special session of Congress to create select investigating committees. He endorsed proposals for a special review board to review National Security Council operations, a special prosecutor to investigate possible criminal activities, and a special legal adviser within the White House. He even proposed an allied summit meeting to “lay all the cards on the table.” In short, Dole called for a radical program of damage control without criticizing the President directly. Reagan “didn’t make any mistakes,” Dole said. “The people who worked for him made mistakes.” What prompted Dole to act quickly and forcefully was the voice of experience. He had been the Republican national chairman and an ardent defender of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. It nearly cost him his Senate seat in 1974, when he won re-election by fewer than 15,000 votes. As he explained last December, “I had a strong belief it wasn’t going to blow over. I’d already been there.”

There was some predictable grumbling from Dole’s rivals that he was distancing himself from the President. Jack Kemp’s press secretary said that Dole was “too far out in front, too eager to make news over the corpse of a popular President.” But the charge of disloyalty didn’t stick. Instead, most Republicans seemed to agree with the assessment made by John Deardourff, a leading party strategist, who told The New York Times, “[Dole has] stepped right up to bat, admitted there was a serious problem, and proposed ways to solve it. That appeals to people with an institutional interest in the party—the people who will play a big role in the nominating process—because it is a sign of a mature, sophisticated politician.” The evidence could be seen in the polls. The bonanza of publicity boosted Dole’s standing and made him the principal challenger to George Bush (thereby confounding Bush’s expectation that most of his problems would come from the party’s right wing). In fact, as the Iranscam story continued to unfold early this year, many pundits gave up on Bush and began to regard Dole as the new Republican front-runner.

All Dole can be divided into three parts. The first phase of his national career was the period 1976-1980, when, as a result of the 1976 campaign, he was known primarily as a hatchet man for the Republican Party. The second phase came during Reagan’s first term, 1981-1984, when, as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he emerged as one of the leading critics of the Reagan Administration’s reckless fiscal policies. Then, as majority leader in 19851986, he became a Reagan loyalist and the chief legislative strategist for the conservative agenda. Dole’s “opening to the right” improved his standing among movement conservatives and gave him considerably more credibility" as a presidential contender.

All three Bob Doles are still very much in evidence— the sarcastic partisan, the spokesman for the establishment, and the right-wing strategist. Elements of each could be seen in his aggressive response to Iranscam. Dole has not really changed over the past ten years. He has simply added new layers of complexity.

Dole has never been able to resist taking a jab at supplysiders. “I could never read anywhere that they wanted to reduce spending,” Dole told me not long ago. “All I could see was they wanted to cut taxes.” What supply-siders don’t understand, he said, is that “it has to be a double track. You have got to say, ‘Let’s stimulate the economy, let’s reduce taxes, but let’s also reduce some of this federal spending out there.’ That is where I criticize those who run around and talk about supply-side economics.”

Dole also takes a critical view of social-issue conservatives. He thinks that there should be room in the party for religious fundamentalists, but says, “If those issues are listed first, then I think you are headed for trouble. You are going to divide the party in two.”As for the prospective presidential candidacy of the television evangelist Pat Robertson, Dole said, “So far he is helping me out.” I reminded Dole that Phyllis Schlafly once said that he didn’t have his heart in the issues conservatives care about. “I don’t have a heart in her issues,” he replied. Did he regard her criticism as fair, then? “No. But coming from her, it is probably a plus.”

Dole has long been mistrusted by movement conservatives. In November of 1985 Fred Mann wrote, in the National Review, “Reaganite loyalists, supply-siders, and New Right activists have all had occasion to regard the powerful Dole as a serious danger to their causes: His instinct for the safe center often seemed to assert itself most strongly on the questions they regarded as most critical.”As the leader of the fiscal-responsibility wing of the Republican Party, Dole played an important role in getting a tax increase passed in 1982. That effort earned him the label “tax collector for the welfare state" from congressional conservatives. Today he says, “A lot of people have forgotten what was in that bill. That was the first step toward tax reform. We went in and closed a lot of loopholes.

We didn’t raise anyone’s taxes except those who had big fat tax breaks.”

Dole has been a strong advocate of civil-rights and votingrights legislation. He has fought against cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. He has supported food stamps and other antihunger programs. Dole, whose right arm was shattered during the Second World War, is also deeply committed to aid for the handicapped, including his own Dole foundation for Employment of Persons with Disabilities. (Business interests eager to curry Dole’s favor have been generous contributors.) Having stressed the need for budget cuts, Dole added, “There is a role for government. There are vulnerable groups in this society for whom we have obligations as a government.”He said that we must do what we can to restrain waste, “but if we are going to err on one side, maybe it ought to be spending a little too much rather than not enough.”

I asked him about the Reagan Administration’s commitment to supporting anti-communist revolutions, including the overthrow of the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Did he support that foreign policy? “I wouldn’t say yes or no. Generally. . . no, I don’t think so.” About trade Dole said, “I have never felt much for those titles like free trade and protectionism.”

TWO YEARS AGO DOLE TOLD THE NEW YORK TIMES, “I’m perceived as a moderate Republican for all the work I’ve done on tax reform, voting rights, food stamps, all the stuff for veterans and the handicapped. But we’re going to make a play for the conservatives. I think I deserve a shot at them.” Indeed, Dole’s voting record has been staunchly conservative; he has supported President Reagan on about 90 percent of major legislative votes, including abortion, school prayer, and a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. He employed the political consultant David Keene, a longtime movement-conservative activist, and made Donald J. Devine, an influential neo-conservative, the director of his Campaign America political-action committee. Last year Dole became a tougher and far more partisan figure in managing the Senate agenda, sidetracking Democratic amendments and giving high priority to issues dear to the hearts of the New Right. In his final year as majority leader, Dole led the fight to confirm the right-wing favorite Daniel A. Manion as a federal judge.

Dole sided with the Reagan Administration and against most of his Senate Republican colleagues in opposing tax increases. He allowed anti-abortion amendments on the legislative agenda. He supported military aid for Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the anti-communist forces in Angola. Despite his expressed reservations, he voted to aid the contras in Nicaragua. He favored applying federal anti-extortion laws to labor violence. He called for the abandonment of the unratified SALT II treaty with the Soviets. He is the favorite of the conservative activist Paul Wevrich, who gives Dole high marks—in contrast to his predecessor as majority leader. A conservative group issued a statement calling Dole “the finest Republican Senate leader since Bob Taft.”

Dole has clearly gone a long way toward making amends with the Republican right. But as for his being one of them, the evidence is not convincing. A self-described “realistic conservative,” he continues to focus on the deficit. “The first priority on anybody’s agenda,” he told me, “is going to be how to control the federal debt. We are going to reach the three-trillion-dollar ceiling by 1990. That demands a little summit meeting up on the mountain top with the leaders of both parties plus business and labor. In fact, I am already working on the invitation list.”

Dole remains resentful about the absence of fiscal responsibility in the White House. “Some of us have made the hard choices,” Dole said. “We voted on May 10, 1985, to freeze Social Security and terminate fourteen programs. We walked the plank, and then the White House pulled the plug.” He complained that “every time I mention the word taxes, I get a memo from someone saying, ‘Oh, don’t say that. You’re just getting over the 1982 flap [about the tax-increase bill].’ We can’t walk around with blinders on in this country. You read that Jim Miller [the budget director] announces, ‘Well, it looks like we are going to have a bigger deficit than we thought.’ Well, that is just great. What happened to all those assumptions they were making, the ‘rosy scenarios’?” Dole expressed wry amusement at the fact that, apparently because of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill, “there is a perception out there, not at all accurate, that we’ve somehow dealt with the deficit.”

Dole’s message seems to match the defensive mood that now prevails in the Republican Party. The party has had its revolution. Before heading off on some bold new adventure, it might be a good idea to go back and correct the mistakes that were made. One was Iranscam. On that issue Dole was quick to establish his standing as a professional who would never tolerate such excesses. The other mistake was the deficit. Although Dole no longer talks about raising taxes, he clearly identifies with the bite-thebullet school of Republicanism. He said that the “most exciting vote” he ever cast in the Senate was that 1985 vote to freeze cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients. “In the U.S. Senate that morning,”he told The Washington Post, “we demonstrated to the American people there was a majority willing to take on everyone in America for the sake of America, to put on the brakes and tell the American people that someone was willing to vote no. . . . The deficit is not going to grow away or go away. We are going to have to address it head-on, without taxes, and we are going to have to do it the hard way.”

Supply-siders contemptuously refer to that sort of message as “austerity talk.” Republicans ran on such messages for almost fifty years—cut the budget, there is no such thing as a free lunch, you can’t spend yourself into prosperity, the day of reckoning is at hand. It was not a spectacular vote-getter. The Democrats tried to steal the Republicans’ thunder in 1984, when Walter Mondale ran against Reagan on the deficit issue. The Democrats got caught in the same thunderstorm. Moreover, Republican strategists know what happens whenever their leaders talk about cutting or freezing or modernizing or “taking another look at” Social Security. They unleash a hurricane, and the whole party has to run for cover.

In making the deficit a principal issue in his campaign, Dole is very much a prince of the Senate. Congress, which is usually blamed for the deficit, is the one branch of government that takes the deficit seriously. Of course, President Reagan says that reducing the deficit is important— but he makes it clear that other things, like keeping taxes down and defense spending up, are more important. The public is essentially in agreement with the President’s view. Sure, we should reduce the deficit, people tell the pollsters. But not if we have to raise taxes or cut entitlement programs or reduce social spending or cut defense. Do it some other way. Pass a law making the deficit illegal, for instance, like a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution or the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-control bill. The deficit, everyone agrees, is bad. But other things, like reducing the deficit, are worse.

The one constituency that responds to the deficit issue is the Republican establishment, and there Dole has hit pay dirt. A poll taken in March by ABC News and The Washington Post found that “Bush . . . does well among lower-income and younger Republicans, but his numbers drop sharply among older, wealthier and better-educated respondents,” where he ran behind Dole. This should be deeply disturbing to Bush partisans. It means that Dole is eating into Bush’s base—the party establishment. And it means that Dole is doing best among the kinds of Republicans most likely to participate in the primaries and caucuses. Of course, Bush might shift gears and try to become the anti-establishment candidate, which is a startling concept indeed. That is the difference between Bush and Dole. Whenever Bush tries to be something he is not— macho, for instance—he looks foolish. Dole, however, has transformed himself so many times that he’s almost the Zelig of American politics. Ambiguity is Dole’s specialty. Or, as he puts it, “I am a broad-based candidate.” He managed the renewal of the Voting Rights Act and supported the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, but he also managed the Manion nomination. He voted to support sanctions against South Africa but then voted to uphold Reagan’s veto of the same measure. He says he is “not a unionbasher” and is considered accessible by organized labor, but he has also backed right-to-work legislation.

He is committed to cutting the budget, but his principal theme this year has been that the Republican Party must “reassert that we are a sensitive, compassionate, caring party.” How? By spending money, of course. In March he called for the federal government to take aggressive action to prevent the spread of AIDS, saying, “Whether it takes a hundred million dollars or a billion or two billion we need to address it.” Dole says things that are surprising coming from a Main Street Republican: he has warned, “We’ll continue to lose Senate seats until we’ve matured enough as a party to bring blacks into the party.”

Dole has been criticized for having a “vision gap.” He offers no grand vision of where he wants to lead the country. Donald Devine, one of his top advisers, says defensively, “Ronald Reagan has set the basic issue agenda of the Republican Party, just as Roosevelt did for the Democrats. . . . You don’t need a visionary leader in the White House every time.” The closest Dole comes to a theme is to portray himself as the candidate of the American heartland, the distressed farmers and businessmen and Rust Belt industrial workers. “That’s where the problems are,” he told Newsweek. “Whenever we get in trouble in this country, we turn to somebody from the Midwest.”

Dole is not exactly Abraham Lincoln, however. He has always had trouble making emotional contact with voters. There is something terribly cool and calculating about him. He is at heart a legislative tactician. “I’ve always found that it’s great to make speeches about what you are going to do when you take over,” he said in a television interview, “but you’ve got to have the votes.” When asked by The Washington Post to describe how he was different from the other candidates, he said, “I’m a producer.”

Dole is looked on with trepidation by Democrats, but they forget that he has twice run for national office and twice been a disaster. His skill as a campaigner remains unproved. He has the reputation of a loner, someone who likes to call the shots. He has no brain trust and no longterm cadre of strategists and political confidants. Indeed, his campaign got off to a rocky start this year when his advisers starting feuding over vision and strategy. Noting Dole’s jump in the polls, a rival strategist pointed out that Dole’s “candidacy is still way ahead of his organization.”

Party ideologues try to insist that Dole define what side he is on. For instance, the columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak wrote last December that Dole must decide what kind of candidate he will be—“essentially tactical and oriented to the news media; or determined to convince the Republican rank-and-file that he is the legitimate heir of Ronald Reagan.” Dole’s reply seems to be, Why do I have to choose?

There is an old Eastern European Jewish story about a rabbi renowned for his brilliance and learning. One day he agreed to settle a dispute between two business partners. The rabbi asked his wife to bring the first businessman before him. He listened attentively to the man’s case and gave his considered judgment: “You, sir, are in the right.” Then he asked his wife to bring the other partner into his chambers. Having heard the other man’s side, the rabbi said, “You, sir, are in the right.” The two men left the rabbi’s court, satisfied with his ruling and marveling at his wisdom. The rabbi’s wife was astonished. “What kind of judgment is that?” she said to her husband. “You told the first man he was in the right, and you told the second man he was in the right. They can’t both be in the right.” The rabbi replied, “You, my dear, are also in the right.”

It’s a brilliant strategy—if you can make it work. So far, Bob Dole’s skills as a tightrope walker have been dazzling. He exploits the two greatest Reagan weaknesses—Iranscam and the deficit—but somehow manages not to come across as a critic of the President. He is a hard-core partisan who chides his party to open itself up to new groups and values. He is a budget-cutter who talks about spending whatever is necessary on legitimate social needs. His rhetoric is that of a moderate—pragmatism and problem-solving—but he has a strongly conservative voting record and has demonstrated a commitment to the conservative agenda. Bob Dole sells himself, without embarrassment, as an establishment politician. “We’ve had Carter the outsider, Reagan the outsider,” he said in an interview. “I think, at least I hope, that those of us who’ve demonstrated a little experience . . . may have a little edge.” He and his wife, Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Reagan’s Secretary of Transportation since 1983, are known as Washington’s “power couple.” At the same time, he offers himself to the Reaganites as someone who can deal for them. In response to the criticism that his heart is not with them, Dole says, “I think what they want is a cheerleader. It’s not enough to be with them on the issues.” The polls show that Dole appeals to two disparate groups of voters: the Republican Party establishment, who admire his cautious and pragmatic conservatism, and Democrats and independents, who admire his independence from the Reagan Administration.

How does he do it? Partly through agility, which any tightrope walker needs. But there is another quality to Bob Dole, one that is well known to his colleagues in Washington: he is relentless. Remember that he fell off the tightrope twice, once in 1976 and again in 1980. “I’m a survivor,”he told The Washington Post. “I keep coming back.” In what undoubtedly strains the bounds of journalistic license, the Post interviewed Dole’s ex-wife. Dole appears to have survived that fall, too, since she told the interviewer, “I think he’s the best man to be President. He doesn’t know how to do a job halfway.” Dole’s relentlessness came out in a famous exchange on the Senate floor last year, when he said to Robert Byrd, then the Senate minority leader, “I didn’t become majority leader to lose.” He is not running for President to lose either.

IF PRINCES OF THE SENATE HAVE PROBLEMS RUNNING for President, princes of the Cabinet have it even worse. In the American system executive officers have no political base, either in the party or in the electorate. They are total insiders. They have a constituency of one: the President. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Jr., doesn’t even have that. He had a stormy tenure in the Reagan Cabinet and departed under a cloud. When Haig, a four-star general, announced in March that he was “throwing my helmet into the ring,” his announcement was greeted with skepticism by party professionals. Haig has cleared the hurdle of name recognition, but it doesn’t help his candidacy. Three out of four voters who had heard of him at the time of his announcement said they didn’t like him. That is most likely a residue of the day Reagan was shot, when Haig presumptuously announced, “I am in control here.”

Why is Haig running? Probably because he is sixty-two years old, he misses the limelight, he is not impressed by the stature of the other candidates, and he wants to vindicate himself. Who is supporting him? A few obscure figures from the military-industrial complex. (The man who chaired Haig’s announcement dinner, the chief executive officer of AlliedSignal, Inc., let it be known afterward that he did so as a personal favor and did not intend to get involved in the campaign.) Also, the comedian Mort Sahl, who may or may not see the Haig campaign as a put-on. Another Cabinet official, the former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, dropped out of the race in April. He said his “background and breadth of experience” made him the bestqualified person to run the country after Reagan, but that as a “long-shot” candidate, he would have “a good deal of ground to make up against the current front-runners.”The bottom line for Haig may be the same. Haig, like Rumsfeld, is really a figure from the Nixon-Ford era—which, to Republicans these days, means prehistoric.

The Red Guard

IF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DECIDES IT WANTS VISION IN 1988, it need look no further than Jack Kemp. Kemp is in the vision business. When I interviewed him earlier this year, he observed that the Iran crisis had created a vision gap within the Republican Party. “Reagan’s State of the Union Address,” Kemp said, “didn’t grab anybody forcefully. It didn’t set forth any broad new vision.” What about 1988? “I think it’s going to come down to Bush, Dole, and Kemp,” he said. “Whoever can best articulate a vision of the future for the party and the country and the Western world is, in my view, going to win.” Kemp, a former Buffalo Bills football star, offers a vision that is resolutely positive. Every time he gets up to speak, a band should break out with “You’ve got to—Accent-ate the positive, Eliminate the negative, Latch on to the affirmative, Don’t mess with Mister In-between.”

Jack Kemp, a nine-term congressman from Buffalo, New York, does not mess with Mister In-between. He is tirelessly optimistic, tirelessly enthusiastic, tirelessly committed, and just plain tireless. In 1985-1986 he delivered no fewer than 512 speeches. Like the late Senator Hubert Humphrey, to whom he has been compared in terms of style—not views—Kemp never lets up. He has a message and he wants to proselytize the whole world. The message is, Free the economy and let growth be our salvation. How does he intend for this to come about? He will tell you, in great detail and at considerable length. (The joke he tells on himself is that if someone asks him what time it is, he will explain how a clock works.) It is the basic supply-side nostrum: low taxes, hard money, low taxes, low interest rates, low taxes, deregulation, low taxes, free trade, and low taxes. His audiences sometimes tune out on phrases like “commodity-price deflation,” but they generally get caught up in his sincerity and enthusiasm.

What Kemp has to figure out is how to be tireless without being tiresome. To that end, his handlers have tried to put him on a verbal diet. “He’s got to decide the three or four things he wants to talk about,” one of his advisers said, “not the fifteen or twenty.” It won’t be easy. Here is a classic Kemp sentence, from a speech given to a Republican audience in Toledo: “It is absolutely essential to our hopes for peace, stability, democracy, and better foreign policy to have a world that is growing and expanding with a tide that is rising, upon which all boats can rise, as opposed to this zero-sum, fiercely divisive Darwinian struggle in which nations are locked into mercantilistic practices and protectionist policies that drive people apart, as opposed to bringing people together in a liberal democratic fashion as I think America was founded upon two hundred years ago.” He added, somewhat superfluously, “That is an overview not only of the United States but of the world.”

In that Toledo speech Kemp harped on the virtues of “liberal democratic capitalism” so incessantly that a Republican grandee sitting next to me started to get agitated. “What’s all this ‘liberal democratic’stuff?” the man asked. “Is he talking about McGovern?” After the speech, I reported the problem to the speaker. “But I told them, ‘liberal democratic—small I, small d,'" Kemp protested. “Congressman,” I said, “you know what you mean and I know what you mean. But I’m not sure these guys know what you mean.”

What is attractive about Kemp’s vision is its expansiveness. “The real issue in this country, particularly for my own party, is how do we take this ‘new beginning’ of noninflationary economic expansion and broaden it, deepen it, expand it, and advance it into the inner cities, to bring along those people who heretofore have not had the benefits of what the recovery has brought?” Kemp is genuinely excited to have “a political paradigm that the conservative, free-enterprise, democratic capitalistic politician can use to compete effectively with the redistribute-the-wealth liberal.” Kemp’s rhetoric of growth, optimism, and boundless opportunity provides a future orientation to a Republican campaign that might otherwise become obsessed with preserving the past. He says his great advantage over Bush is that he can develop his own theme and message, and he can tell people what he will do. “Bush is tied to a negative posture on the economy,” Kemp told me last year, “and I want to keep him there—cut the deficit, maybe raise taxes, pain and suffering, the Eisenhower model. I’m going to keep talking about growth, about opportunity, like Jack Kennedy: ‘We can do better.’”

Kemp also talks about “broadening the base of the Republican Party” by bringing in new groups who are attracted by its message of growth and opportunity—the minority communities, the inner cities, blue-collar working people, young people, union members. He does more than talk about this. In Congress, Kemp has been a strong supporter of civil rights and of economic programs for the inner cities. He votes for aid to Africa and sanctions against South Africa, and is one of the few Republicans liked and trusted by the Congressional Black Caucus. Not all of this, of course, sits well with his fellow conservatives—or with Republican audiences generally, who wonder just why their party needs those kinds of people.

There is a lot of Ronald Reagan in Jack Kemp, particularly in his ability to reach out to Democrats and nontraditional Republican voters. Kemp has some of Reagan’s populist and anti-establishment appeal. “Jack Kemp appeals to little people,” says Ed Rollins, a former White House political director and a current Kemp strategist. “He appeals to an anti-establishment group out there, and Baker and Dole and all the rest are perceived as being part of the establishment.” The populism is explicit in Kemp’s characterization of what the Reagan revolution was all about: “simply reducing the impediments that stand in the way of men and women who want to be productive.” Those impediments, of course, are high taxes and big government.

Kemp has on occasion been critical of the Administration on matters of conservative principle. He is the spiritual leader of the young-turk conservatives in the House of Representatives, who pressure the party leadership to be more militant and confrontational with the Democratic majority. In 1982 many of them stuck with Kemp when he balked at supporting the Administration’s tax-increase bill. Just before President Reagan went to Iceland, Kemp delivered a speech warning the President not to fall for “the allure of détente” or cut a deal with Gorbachev on the Strategic Defense Initiative. He also attacked the Administration’s evident decision to release “a high-level Soviet spy” in exchange for Nicholas Daniloff, “an innocent American journalist.”

Kemp promotes what he calls a “positive” foreign policy that goes beyond traditional anti-communism to offer a model of economic development and international security—a supply-side analogue in the international arena. He told me, “ The Soviet Union represents a threat in terms of might. It is a joke in terms of its economy and what it has to offer the Third World—a laughingstock to countries that are looking for an economic-development model.”

Kemp also takes a positive view of the SDI, saying that we should try to convince our allies and friends “and ultimately the Soviet Union that they have far more to gain by moving to a defensive posture as opposed to the continual buildup of a heavy, land-based strategic nuclear capability that they have been relentlessly investing in for the past fifteen years.” Above all, Kemp says, “we should not use the Strategic Defense Initiative as a bargaining chip.”

As for social issues, Kemp is a strong proponent of “traditional values” and takes the right-to-life position on abortion. However, he has never pushed the social-issue agenda very hard, claiming that he doesn’t want the Republican Party to be illiberal or intolerant. Kemp’s argument is that traditional moral values can compete in the “marketplace of ideas” if they are debated fully, openly, and fairly. “Illiberalism is fostered by people who don’t want to debate those issues,”he says. Kemp professes to be “comfortable” with his positions on social issues but “uncomfortable” with the emotion that others bring to those issues. He told The Washington Post last year, “People say, ‘Well, maybe you’re not tough enough.’ But I don’t think it has anything to do with macho politics. I think I’ve advanced my views with compassion and tolerance.”

Taxes are the core of Kemp’s philosophy. True to the supply-side faith, his argument is, The lower the better. Kemp co-sponsored the 1981 tax cut that to Reaganites constitutes the essence of the Reagan revolution. (To traditional conservatives it constitutes grievous fiscal irresponsibility.) He was also a strong supporter of tax reform, and he helped to engineer the agreement that saved the issue after it was initially rejected by the House of Representatives, in December of 1985. His view is that the law as enacted did not go far enough in flattening tax rates. Once you get beyond the working poor, Kemp favors an essentially flat tax.

Kemp’s “counterintuitive” solution to the deficit is “a demonstrably easier tax policy, to get greater output from the labor and capital sectors of the economy.” Kemp’s national industrial strategy consists of lowering taxes on business in order to stimulate capital formation. His idea for enterprise zones in the inner city is based on “abolishing the number-one tax on the entrepreneur, the capital-gains tax.” Kemp opposes an oil-import fee to help the energy states: “An oil-import fee is a tax.” He thinks that the Social Security system has been “overfunded” and that “we ought to think about lowering the payroll tax” as a way of combating unemployment. When I asked about Mexico’s debt problem, Kemp said that the Mexican government should induce capital to come into the country. How? “You drop the tax on capital.” As for the other countries of Central America, he said, “All of them are overtaxed.” Give the man a hammer and the world becomes a nail.

Kemp doesn’t even like to talk about spending cuts. When I raised the issue with him, he said, “I just place the highest priority on economic growth. While all the other members of the House talk about cutting spending, there ought to be at least one who is concentrating on growth.” In an even greater act of heresy for a Republican, Kemp told me, “I am not anti-government. I would not run a campaign against government.” He explained that whereas government has an obligation to promote opportunity— mostly by lowering taxes and getting out of people’s way— “security is another aspect.” He said, “People want opportunity so they can earn security.” Kemp sees himself as a “use-govemment-where-you-can conservative” rather than a “fight-government-at-all-costs conservative.”

Consistent with this philosophy, Kemp was one of the few Republicans to oppose the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings “automatic” deficit-reduction bill. When Congress failed to meet the deficit-reduction target for 1987, Kemp said, “We ought to declare victory. I don’t think we should tear apart SDI or inner-city social programs to reach a magicnumber that’s supposed to be nirvana.”

AN INTERVIEW WITH PETE DU PONT, WHO WAS THE first candidate to declare for President, suggests that Kemp is not idiosyncratic. He is a type. Du Pont, a former member of Congress and governor of Delaware, is another supply-sider who wants to extend and radicalize the Reagan revolution. That comes as a surprise to many people who expect someone from Delaware named du Pont, who was educated at Exeter, Princeton, and Harvard, and who looks like Nelson Rockefeller, to be the quintessential eastern-establishment Republican.

He was, for a while. That was when du Pont served in Congress, for three terms, and compiled a conventionally moderate voting record. Then he was elected governor, in 1976, and began what he describes as a personal transformation. “I’m a supply-sider,” he told me when we talked at my office in Washington. “I saw it work at home, in Delaware. The principle of lower tax rates, inducing people to go out and work and produce, I think is right.” When du Pont took charge, Delaware had a huge budget deficit, above-average unemployment, a deteriorating economy, the nation’s highest personal-income-tax rate, and one of the lowest state-bond ratings in the country. The du Pont revolution, which began four years before the Reagan revolution, imposed spending controls and lowered taxes three times, for a total tax reduction of 42 percent. The result was a booming economy, an unbroken series of budget surpluses, and one of the highest state-bond ratings in the country.

Now du Pont talks about “empowerment.” “We used to have a Republican Party that was a party of accountants,” he said, “and that’s when we could only hold the majority in boardrooms and country clubs. The challenge postRonald Reagan is to extend this idea of empowering people to make decisions in their own lives, to extend it into areas that aren’t directly economic, into what I call the opportunity issues.” He acknowledged that some people say, “Jeez, you know, du Pont was never like that when he was in Congress.” “Well, no, he wasn’t,” du Pont went on, “because he hadn’t yet gone out and had to lead a government and make it work and seen that when you empower people, good things begin to happen.”

Du Pont even talks about empowerment as a principle of foreign policy. When I asked about the Reagan doctrine, he said, “It’s the same empowerment question. The Reagan doctrine is, ‘We’re going to help, but you’ve got to do it yourself. We will give you some armaments and we’ll help train you, but we’re not going to send troops.”' To the Reagan doctrine du Pont added the Hungarian corollary: “There are some places you just can’t help.” He said, “That was the problem in Vietnam.”

Du Pont generally supports the social-issue agenda of the religious right and welcomes Pat Robertson into the tent, “because that will help make us into a majority.” He added, “When you go talk to a religious fundamentalist about training opportunities, schools, jobs, inflation, or taxes, they don’t think any differently than anybody else.” One of the few issues on which du Pont deviates from the standard New Right agenda is abortion. He favors a reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, but feels that the issue should then be left to the states. He does not support a constitutional ban on abortions, because “it’s not a U.S. constitutional question.” He was booed at a meeting of religious conservatives earlier this year when he said he felt that AIDS was a medical, not a moral, problem. Another deviation is South Africa. Like Kemp, du Pont supports U.S. sanctions against the apartheid regime.

Supply-siders love schemes. Du Pont’s schemes include a plan for school reform, a plan for phasing out farm price supports, “an enormously complicated Medicare voucher proposal,” mandatory work programs for welfare recipients, an end to the “government monopoly” in education, a private alternative to Social Security, and, most controversial of all, a mandatory drug-testing program for all teenagers as a condition for obtaining a driver’s license.

Du Pont combines Bush’s background and Kemp’s philosophy. He has one advantage over both of his betterknown competitors, however. That is his experience as governor. He made it work. As a candidate, du Pont is desperate for publicity. He declared early so that, at least for a few months, he would have the field all to himself. His candidacy is not a joke, although it has been called that. Still, there are some humorous aspects. Can a candidate named Pierre Samuel du Pont IV really aspire to present himself as a populist? And what about the droll notion that only a du Pont could present himself as Reagan’s true heir, the authentic Teflon candidate?

THE PRINCIPAL SOURCE OF CONTENTION BETWEEN traditional conservatives like Dole and Baker and supply-siders like Kemp and du Pont is, of course, the deficit. The differences are likely to intensify as the campaign for the nomination proceeds. The purest statement of traditional Republican thinking on this issue came from the party’s leading Main Street Republican, former President Gerald Ford. President Ford described the annual deficits as “time bombs.” His solution: “Get everyone to share the pain.” Talk about sharing the pain drives supply-siders crazy. It’s austerity talk, “root-canal politics,” the kind of thing that made the Republicans a minority party for fifty years.

The supply-side formula for talking about deficits includes the following components: How you balance the budget is more important than whether you balance it (“To balance the budget you have to balance the economy”—Kemp). Growth is more important than balancing the budget (“It is impossible for a conservative Republican to even think about balancing the budget short of a demonstrably growing economy”—Kemp; “The spending side of the equation is not as important as empowering people”—du Pont). The Reagan tax cut did not cause the deficit (“The deficit is not due to the tax cut”—Kemp). The deficit is not especially large, given the size of the economy (“There is plenty of room for a deficit in this economy”—Kemp). Deficits serve a purpose (“A nation has to be able to run deficits to get through bad times the same way we expect families to borrow when the breadwinner is out of work”—the supply-side guru Jude Wanniski). Never, never raise taxes (“There are four things you can do about the deficit. We’re doing the third worst one—that’s ignore it. The worst thing is to inflate the economy, because that’s a tax on everybody. The second worst thing you can do is increase taxes”—du Pont).

Can Kemp or du Pont win the nomination on the basis of this kind of thinking? Kemp, the likelier of the two to do it, has been ridiculed as Dr. Feelgood, the purveyor of cheap, painless, and ultimately ineffective economic nostrums. There is something in his thinking that recalls the cranks of yesteryear—Coin Harvey’s Financial School, or Henry George’s single taxers. Perhaps a more serious strike against Kemp is the fact that he makes traditional Republicans uneasy. He violates too many party orthodoxies on budgeting and spending. And he wants to bring a lot of people with “unreliable views” into the party fold.

All of which is to say that Kemp is an outsider and an anti-establishment candidate. That is exactly the kind of candidate who has tended to catch fire in recent years— McGovern in 1972, Reagan and Carter in 1976, Hart in 1984. Kemp has the advantage over his competitors that he alone is offering a coherent message and a vision of the future—an aggressive rather than a defensive conservatism. If anti-Bush sentiment continues to accumulate, as antiMondale sentiment did among Democrats in 1984, Kemp is as well positioned as anyone to take advantage of it.

Kemp rejects the Bush-Mondale analogy. He points out that to Republicans, even after the Iran scandal, “Reagan isn’t a failure. Bush is still the beneficiary of a great deal of good will toward this President. He served this President very well.” He adds, “I hear a lot of people say, ‘Why doesn’t Bush deserve it? Jerry Ford deserved it in 1976.”And, to complete the thought, Jerry Ford lost the election. As for Dole, Kemp calls him “our most visible and able legislative tactician.” What Dole’s rise in the polls demonstrates, he says, is that “it isn’t wrapped up. It’s nowhere near wrapped up. It’s as wide open as it possibly could be.”

Kemp’s problem is that although Dole has been steadily moving up on Bush in the polls this year, Kemp’s movement in the polls has been no more than glacial. (Du Pont has rarely gotten more than two percent.) It was especially embarrassing when Alexander Haig declared his candidacy in March and immediately jumped ahead of Kemp in the polls. Kemp seems unconcerned. He says, “Polling right now is a momentary existential window that really doesn’t tell you a whole lot about where the passion and commitment is, and what people may be thinking tomorrow when they get new information from last night’s television news.” After all, back in 1983 Gary Hart was seen as a nonstarter in the Democratic race. As Hart can testify from his experience that year, the race isn’t over until it starts.

Kemp has another problem, however. He is under the gun. When Pat Buchanan announced his decision not to run for President, in January, he posed it as a challenge to Kemp. He told U.S. News & World Report, “I endorsed Kemp’s right to prove he’s got the stuff to lead the movement. That’s all I’m endorsing.”Kemp accepted the challenge. He promised, “There won’t be anybody to my right on SDI, on aiding the freedom fighters, on being anticommunist, on free enterprise and family values.” Indeed, Kemp has become much more combative in recent months. He went before the Conservative Political Action Conference and accused Secretary of State George Shultz of purging Reagan supporters from the State Department, dragging his feet on the deployment of SDI, and undermining the Reagan doctrine. “In my view,” Kemp told the meeting, “it is time for George Shultz to resign.” That got him a standing ovation. On another occasion Kemp scolded the House minority leader, Robert Michel, for asking the Administration to delay further aid requests for the contras. When he addressed a conference of his House Republican colleagues in March, Kemp called for “constitutional protections for the unborn” and a mandatory AIDS test for couples applying for a marriage license.

“We’re getting closer to uniting the conservative movement,” Charles Black, a Kemp strategist, has said. Maybe. But there is a big hurdle, and it is not simply name recognition. It is that Kemp’s optimism and confidence do not match the mood of most conservatives these days. Since the 1986 midterm and the Iran scandal, the right has retreated into a mood of bitterness and resentment. Conservatives feel betrayed by the Republican establishment, by the press, and by the Reagan Administration. They are looking for a leader to express their anger and their desire for recrimination. What do Jack Kemp and Pete du Pont offer? Buoyancy. That’s where their conservatism differs from Pat Buchanan’s. Buchanan has been called many things, but no one has ever described him as buoyant.

LAST YEAR KEMP WAS ASKED BY REPORTERS HOW HE felt about the prospective Republican candidacy of the evangelist Pat Robertson. He replied, “Robertson is broadening the base of the Republican Party, and that’s good. . . . He is as welcome to our party as Jesse Jackson is to the Democratic Party.” The reporters laughed, and Kemp quickly added that his comment was not intended to “reflect disdain.” There are, in fact, certain similarities between the two Baptist preachers. Both of them enlarge the political universe. They bring moral energy and vitality to American politics. They show that there are causes and resentments that lie beyond the boundaries of a carefully managed national consensus. Attention must be paid.

There is a lot of slack in the American political system. Barely more than half of the voting-age population turns out to vote in a typical presidential election, and that is as high as turnout gets. Robertson and Jackson appeal to people who do not ordinarily get involved in politics. Probably most of those who voted for Jesse Jackson in the 1984 Democratic primaries would not have voted at all if Jackson had not been a candidate. Something similar may happen if Robertson decides to run in 1988. Jackson’s core constituency, blacks, made up 10 percent of the voters in 1984. They voted 90 percent for Walter Mondale. Robertson’s potential constituency, white born-again Christians, is slightly larger—15 percent of presidential voters in 1984. They showed the strongest swing to Reagan of any group in the electorate, from 63 percent Republican in 1980 (when Jimmy Carter retained some residual appeal to born-agains) to 80 percent in 1984. In 1984 a fifth of the Democratic primary voters were black. In 1988 white born-again Christians will probably make up about that proportion of Republican primary voters. In short, what we have here are two recently politicized minorities, roughly equal in size, moving in opposite directions, each disproportionately concentrated in one party.

Pete du Pont rejects the parallelism between Jackson and Robertson. He feels that Jackson was not so much a black candidate as an ideological candidate of the left. “He’s the liberals’ liberal,” du Pont observes, “and that’s where all their hearts are. I don’t think religion is to the Republican Party what left-wing liberalism, Jesse Jackson, is to the Democratic Party.” That characterization portrays Robertson as just a preacher, someone on the outskirts of party politics. In fact the evidence suggests that he, too, has a larger political agenda. As one Republican political consultant puts it, “Pat Robertson is a politician whose profession happens to be religion.”

When I interviewed Robertson, I asked him what he felt remained on the agenda of the Reagan revolution. He answered the way you’d expect a Republican politician to answer. Two things, he said. The trade imbalance and the federal budget deficit. He didn’t mention religion.

Robertson is no redneck preacher. His father was a U.S. senator from Virginia. He is a graduate of Yale Law School. He founded the Christian Broadcasting Network and built it into an operation with revenues of almost $200 million a year, approximately 28 million viewers, and an affiliated university. Like Jesse Jackson, he projects a serious and sophisticated public image. In our conversation he addressed the issues like a businessman, which is what he is, among other things. He said that if something isn’t done about the trade deficit, “we will have credits against us in excess of a trillion dollars.” He foresaw “an erosion of confidence in the dollar to such an extent that we may find ourselves in the status of one of the banana republics.” He felt that business, government, and labor should form a partnership to modernize the country’s industrial infrastructure. “It’s impossible to run a business on quarterly results,” he said. “There has to be a long-term horizon. As long as we penalize people on the basis of quarterly returns, we will lose ground to the Japanese and Germans.”

Robertson was equally businesslike on the subject of the federal budget. He favored cutting $100 billion out of it immediately. “I don’t think we can wait on it,”he said. “I think it can be done, and it can be done by prudent management.” He recalled the contention by Peter Grace, the industrialist who headed a Reagan commission on efficiency in government, that at least $430 billion in federal spending could be saved over a three-year period without changing any major programs. Robertson felt that some agencies should be dismantled, however—“not just improved business management but whole departments.”Among them were the Legal Services Corporation, Amtrak, Conrail, and the Departments of Education and Energy. On the issue of tax reform he said that Congress would have to pass “the Tax Reform Bill of 1987 to give industry back some of the privileges it took away from them in the Tax Reform Bill of 1986.” He favored bringing back accelerated depreciation schedules, because “there have to be incentives for people to put their money into speculative ventures.” Cast thy bread upon the waters? Exactly. He told a New Hampshire audience in March that the biblical parable of the talents was a “tale of free enterprise" in which the ancient entrepreneur “rented a caravan of camels, perhaps from the Hertz of the day,” and, through smart commerce, earned the equivalent of a $5 million return on his investment.

Robertson made the controversial statements last June that “a Supreme Court ruling is not the law” and that “neither Congress nor the President has a duty to obey judicial rulings with which they disagree.”I said I wanted to give him a chance to explain what he meant. “Bless you,” said Robertson, who then proceeded to talk like a lawyer, which he is, among other things. “I’m quoting from Article Six of the Constitution, which says the supreme law of the land will be, one, the Constitution; two, treaties duly ratified in accordance with the Constitution; and three, the laws of Congress duly passed. When I was asked the question ‘Are Supreme Court decisions the supreme law of the land?’ I said no, they’re not, because the Constitution specifically names three other things as the supreme law of the land.” As the writer Garrett Epps has pointed out, Robertson did not necessarily learn this in law school. His father said almost exactly the same thing in the U.S. Senate on March 3, 1960, in criticism of the Supreme Court decision mandating school integration.

Ignoring the doctrine of judicial review, Robertson told me, “The Supreme Court has no power to strike a law down. The Supreme Court has the power not to enforce the law in the courts. The law stays on the books. Perhaps it’s semantics, but the semantics have turned into reality.” He cited a poll showing that a third of the American people believe that the Supreme Court passes laws, just like Congress. “Well, it doesn’t,” Robertson said. “This is just classical constitutional law. It’s hardly anything radical.”

The attack on judicial activism has been a central feature of the New Right’s social agenda ever since the “Impeach Earl Warren” movement of the 1950s. It reveals an important point about the outlook of movement conservatives. Many Americans see the religious right as the latest incarnation of zealotry and intolerance. Many people, and not just liberals, have expressed alarm over efforts by evangelicals to Christianize the Republican Party and, through the party, the entire country.

Evangelicals, however, see the liberals as the aggressors. According to the evangelicals, liberals have done exactly what they accuse the religious right of trying to do— namely, use the power of the state to impose their values on others. Beginning with the civil-rights revolution of the 1960s, Democrats and liberals have come to support a wide variety of reformist social causes, including women’s rights, affirmative action, quotas, busing, gay rights, unrestricted immigration, legalized abortion, sex education, the required teaching of evolution, the prohibition of prayer in public schools, and tolerance of pornography.

Liberals typically defend these measures as enhancements of individual rights. Conservatives, however, see them as enhancements of state power. Every item on the religious right’s social agenda, including a reversal of the measures just listed, started out as a liberal initiative. Many originated in federal court cases, most prominently in Supreme Court decisions. The courts are the least democratic institution of American government; therefore, the religious right sees itself as a populist force protesting government encroachments on private morality and personal liberty.

Liberals see the religious right as culturally aggressive and themselves as culturally defensive. To conservatives like Robertson, it is just the other way around. The liberals are the ones who are trying to win official status for their “anti-religious” moral and social values, while conservatives are defending pluralism and tolerance. Ronald Reagan expressed this view when he addressed a prayer breakfast during the 1984 Republican National Convention. “The frustrating thing,” the President said, “is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and open-mindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion?”

The problem is that throughout history many of those who have demanded religious liberty for themselves have denied it to others. Puritan New England was not exactly the model of a tolerant society. Most Americans do not see the religious right as trying to liberate religion from the encroachments of the state; they see evangelicals as a religious minority trying to win control over the state and impose their values on others. Why? Because that, very often, is what the religious right says it wants to do.

Paul Weyrich, a leading political strategist for the Christian right, said this explicitly in a Washington Post article titled “The Cultural Right’s Hot New Agenda.” “Cultural conservatism,” he wrote, “rejects the argument that the free market is the only answer to most problems. . . . Government has an important role in upholding the society’s moral fabric—by its own example; by its use of the ‘bully pulpit’ inherent in government; and, sometimes, by legislation.” He endorsed the use of “governmental sanctions” to restrict a “‘free market’ of values” in which “limits, restraints and self-discipline” are made to compete with “self-gratification, sensual pleasures, and materialism.” In other words, the government must help us be good.

Robertson described himself to me as “passionately in favor of human freedom” and said that he disliked government intervention in people’s lives. “Having said that,”he added, “I think we need to recognize that whenever you have an organ that is spending a trillion dollars a year, that has two-point-six or two-point-seven million employees, that is giving checks to over fifty percent of the American people, that organ is enormously powerful and it is obviously being used right now to bring about certain types of behavior.” He cited several instances—among them, that through its tax policies the government has been encouraging people to have fewer children. “We essentially are dying out. We are depopulating America.” On another occasion Robertson said that as a result of liberal abortion laws, “what we are doing is committing racial suicide.” He complained to me that public-school textbooks have “expunged references to religious experience, denigrated capitalism, and pushed the educational agenda toward a socialistic and internationalist model.” “That was done with taxpayers’ money,” he said, “and it was a value judgment that someone made.” Robertson also argued that our socialwelfare laws have sought to “institutionalize aberrant behavior, whether it is drunkenness, drug addiction, homosexuality, or whatever. I don’t think we should do that.”

Government, Robertson said, should encourage the right values instead of the wrong ones. “Should we uphold the traditional family? I think the answer is yes. Should we try to limit gross pornography? I think the answer is yes. Should we do something to curb the invasion of drugs? I think the answer is yes. Should we pay for babies that are begotten out of wedlock by fathers who have no desire whatsoever to care for them and who laugh at the system? I think the answer is no. We should force men to take care of their own children.” He added, “No government is neutral. All law ultimately represents somebody’s values.”

Fine—but that means that people have the right to examine Robertson’s values. And that is where he leaves many Americans behind. Robertson has attacked John Dewey, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and Sigmund Freud for contributing to moral decay in the United States. He has tried to use the power of prayer to change the course of a hurricane. He has described husbands as “high priests” of the family unit. He has argued that “non-Christian people and atheists” are using the Constitution “to destroy the foundations of our society.” He told his New Hampshire audience, in March, that “if we believe that Jesus is God, then every time He spoke,” it is “a principle as valid as the law of gravity or the law of thermodynamics.” He attempted to heal an AIDS victim on his 700 Club television show, saying, “We rebuke this virus and we command your immune system to function in the name of Jesus.” He said last year that Christians, presumably of his persuasion, “maybe feel more strongly than others do” about “love of God, love of country, and support for the traditional family.” None of those views or values can be described as consensual or even majoritarian.

Robertson told me that he believes in the separation of Church and State in the sense that “we should never have one sect that is preferred by government above any other” and “there should be no religious test for any office or public trust.” But, like Reagan, he claims that “we are a religious people” and that therefore government “should favor religion.”He claims that 94 percent of Americans are “theists,” people who believe in God. But we should not give an “absolute veto” over our public life to the six-percent minority “who don’t believe in anything.” The atheists and secular humanists are forcing government to disfavor religion, thus violating the rights of the majority.

As an example he cited evolution, which “is a direct denial of theistic belief,” he said. “Evolution is a theory. It is a hotly contested theory. It has never been proved.” In his view, the nation is being forced to adopt this unscientific orthodoxy against the will of the majority. He expressed a characteristically defensive view: “Why don’t you give children a chance to understand both theories? After all, the Declaration of Independence says all men were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Just imagine how it would sound, ‘All men are endowed by the primordial slime with certain unalienable rights.’ It just doesn’t have the same ring of truth to it.” Robertson said in New Hampshire, “When people ask me if I believe in teaching creationism in schools, I ask them, ‘Do you believe in teaching the Constitution?”’

Robertson, like most leaders of the religious right, slips from highly consensual views about family life and drugs to highly controversial views about evolution and abortion, which to him apparently have the same status. For example, after he confirmed his belief in the separation of Church and State, I asked Robertson whether he thought the United States was a Christian nation. “It used to be, but it’s not anymore,” he replied. “I don’t think anybody realistically expects it to become one anytime soon.” He seemed unaware that the concept of the United States as a Christian nation is in fact highly controversial and could be said to contradict the notion of the separation of Church and State.

Robertson speaks not for all Christians or religious people or Americans who believe in God but for an aggressive minority of fundamentalists. His religious practices—faith healing, speaking in tongues—are certainly not majoritarian. Nor is the personal relationship he claims with God (“What is God’s will for me in this?” Robertson asked last September, in announcing his interest in running for President. “Let me assure you I know God’s will for me”).

In fact, Robertson’s prospective candidacy has evoked a strongly negative public reaction, even among evangelical Christians. A CBS News-New York Times poll taken in March found that people who watched evangelical ministers on television were opposed to Robertson’s running for President, 56 to 20 percent. Even those who watched Robertson’s own show were closely split over his candidacy. The Atlanta JournallConstitution polled voters in twelve southern states in early March and found Robertson, at nine percent, running far behind Bush and slightly behind Dole and Kemp among Republican voters. Robertson did better—16 percent—among Republicans who said they preferred a born-again candidate for President, but he ran considerably behind Bush in that group as well. More than two thirds of southern Republicans, and a majority of those who favored a born-again candidate, said they would not consider voting for Robertson for President.

Robertson’s campaign manager told The Washington Post that as a result of the scandal involving Jim Bakker, evangelicals may be wary that if a preacher runs for President they will receive more unwelcome attention. Robertson, who was not involved in the scandal, suggested that it might be “a prelude to an accelerating revival" among evangelical Christians. To non-evangelicals, however, he dismissed the matter as an aberration, asking whether the fact that a journalist won a Pulitzer Prize for a fabricated story meant that all journalists were liars.

Robertson’s campaign had quite enough problems even before the Bakker scandal. His televised fundraiser, held last September to announce his presidential exploratory committee, raised only enough money to cover costs. Six months later Robertson had gathered fewer than a third of the three million signatures he said he would need to enter the race. The Internal Revenue Service has been investigating whether Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network abused its tax-exempt status with its links to the now defunct Freedom Council, an educational organization designed to get out the Christian fundamentalist vote.

Robertson’s most serious problem may be the lawsuit he himself filed against the former congressman Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey, Jr., and Andrew Jacobs, Jr., who is still a congressman. McCloskey and Jacobs have accused Robertson of using his father’s influence to avoid combat duty in the Korean War. While Robertson adamantly denies the accusation, the depositions filed in the case raise questions about Robertson’s description of himself as a “Marine combat officer” in Korea. They also reveal that Robertson sought the help of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North in gaining access to military records to support his case, and that he used a freelance journalist to gather information surreptitiously (the journalist interviewed McCloskey on videotape without informing him that he was doing so at Robertson’s request). Whatever the legal outcome of the case, the political impact has been to raise questions about Robertson’s veracity.

And They’re Off!

COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE 1988 ELECTION ARE ALREADY piling up. George Bush remains the Republican front-runner, but the conventional wisdom is that Iranscam has made Bush a walking political corpse. The smart money is now on Bob Dole, but there are still a great many doubts about the Minority Leader, who seems to have no base, no issue, and not much of a campaign.

While the Republicans have a wounded front-runner, the Democrats have no front-runner. Gary Hart’s spectacular demise leveled the playing field. Not a single politician of national stature is running for the Democratic nomination. Only Jesse Jackson has a national reputation, and that reputation is mixed. There is no man to beat. Each candidate will be trying to break out of the pack by grabbing publicity any way he can—by winning straw votes, staging publicity stunts, buying early television time, as the former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt is doing in Iowa, or latching onto splashy issues, as Representative Richard Gephardt did this spring with foreign trade.

Hart’s withdrawal frees up a pool of contributors and activists, for whom the other candidates are competing. It also encourages new candidates to enter the race, or to reconsider their decision not to run. Conservative Democrats with money and influence will implore the Georgia senator Sam Nunn and the former Virginia governor Charles Robb to reconsider. Liberals continue to look for a sign that New York Governor Mario Cuomo may make himself available. Moderates will be appealing to New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

They may not be interested. For one thing, the press is now emboldened to look into the private life of every candidate. Press scrutiny, Gary Hart said just before his withdrawal, “is clearly one of the reasons many talented people in this nation opt out of public service.” Candidates for President these days must sacrifice dignity as well as privacy. They have to spend their time suffering fools gladly and being badgered by arrogant twenty-year-olds with questionnaires. We have reached the point at which politicians like Cuomo and Nunn would actually diminish their stature by running for President. Similarly, on the Republican side several popular and experienced governors from important states have decided that a run for the presidency might damage their political careers—second-term governors George Deukmejian, of California, and Thomas Kean, of New Jersey, and fourth-term governor James Thompson, of Illinois. “It’s not in the cards for a sitting governor to run for President,” Thompson has said. Indeed, every non-incumbent elected President since Roosevelt, with the exception of John F. Kennedy, was out of office at the time of his election.

The Republicans still haven’t figured out what comes next. Bush and Laxalt offer the status quo, which, after Iranscam, is a perilously weak platform. Dole and Haig are the insider candidates who offer experience and professionalism but no noticeably new agenda. While professionalism certainly fills a void in the Reagan record, it has never been a potent vote-getting theme. Kemp, du Pont, and Robertson are trying to run as outsiders whose answer to the Reagan revolution is more revolution. But they make Republicans nervous. Their campaigns do not match either the defensiveness of the party establishment or the bitterness of movement conservatives. The right will probably fail to unite behind a single candidate and instead count on picking up the pieces once the party is punished and cleansed of its sins. For conservatives, 1988 will lead to 1992 just as surely as 1960 led to 1964 and 1976 to 1980.

The Democrats may finally put the battle between the Old Politics and the New Politics behind them in 1988. In each of the past five presidential elections the Democrats have experienced a pitched battle between establishment and insurgent forces. The establishment won in 1968 (Humphrey) and 1984 (Mondale). The insurgents won in 1972 (McGovern) and 1976 (Carter). The Democrats may have finally learned that it doesn’t make much difference which side wins. Mondale (41 percent) did hardly any better than McGovern (38 percent), Humphrey (43 percent), or Carter in 1980(41 percent).

These days the Democratic Party cannot afford to see the political world as “us” versus “them.” There are not enough of “us” and too many of “them.” In order for the Democrats to win in 1988, the issue has to be the Republicans and the Reagan record. The Democrats need to offer a broadly acceptable alternative for those voters who want change but not too much change. The key word is pragmatism. The good news is that all the prospective Democratic candidates, with the important exception of Jesse Jackson, have been positioning themselves as pragmatists. All of them are competing to become the new Gary Hart. The bad news is that the Democrats still have to do the one thing that always gets the party in trouble: nominate a ticket. Moreover, a growing belief that the party can’t lose in 1988 may encourage its familiar tendency toward selfdestruction.

There are two kinds of presidential elections in the United States—those in which the ideological differences between the candidates are heightened and those in which the differences are minimized. The easiest way to tell one kind from the other is to look at voter movements. The larger the difference between the candidates, the harder it is for voters to switch back and forth between them. You could have taken a poll every month during 1964, 1972, and 1984 and the results would have been exactly the same. The differences were clear, and most voters knew which candidate they were going to vote for all along.

The 1960, 1968, and 1976 races were down to the wire, however. The results shifted back and forth on a weekly, almost a daily, basis. That is because both sides ran centrist campaigns, making it easy for voters to switch from one to the other. The voters seem to enjoy a horse race: 1960 saw the highest level of voter turnout in any presidential election since the early part of this century. But Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., had to explain to liberals that John Kennedy and Nixon were not Tweedledum and Tweedledee and that it did indeed make a difference which one of them was elected. In 1968 it was dissident candidates, McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, and Wallace, not mainstream candidates, Humphrey and Nixon, who evoked the most intense support. In 1976 the election seemed to hinge on which candidate made fewer gaffes—Carter’s ethnic purity versus Ford’s liberation of Poland. When the issue differences between the candidates seem minimal, the voters have to choose between them on the basis of something else—something trivial, perhaps, like charisma. American voters are not inherently ideological or superficial. They respond to the nature of the candidates and the campaign.

The likelihood is that 1988 will follow the centrist pattern. The Republicans will offer defensive conservatism and the Democrats will offer aggressive pragmatism. As in 1960 and 1976, the mood of the electorate will not be decidedly for change or decidedly for continuity. The election will be closely fought and highly competitive, with the lead shifting from one candidate to the other. Ideologues on the left and the right will be unhappy with the choices and will bemoan the lack of clarity and coherence. The press will complain about the trivialization of the campaign. Pundits will ask whether it really makes any difference which candidate gets elected. Foreigners will criticize the lack of tone and rationality in American politics. And the voters, faced with a real contest, will have a wonderful time. □