'Newtrinos' Renew Revolution
Arianna Huffington rose from the ashes of her husband's embarrassing 1995 attempt to buy a California Senate seat to publicly trash one of her husband's hardest campaigners -- Bob Dole. She authored two editorials last month in the Wall Street Journal, one ironically entitled, "The Presidency Is No Entitlement."
In one of these editorials she states that, if "Mr. Dole becomes the nominee, we will have a counterfeit [Clinton] running against a composite [Dole] -- a collage of positions determined by polling data and focus groups. And if November turns out to be match-up between the counterfeit and the composite, the counterfeit will win ... The [Republican] party that is trying to end the entitlement mentality must not choose a candidate just because he feels like he is entitled to the crown."
Huffington's motives simply may be to allow friends of the far-right persuasion an easier defeat of Dole in the primary -- Pat Buchanan for example. This may very well be the case, but a more interesting interpretation is that Huffington's columns are an attempt to pave the way for media darling Colin Powell, who must decide whether or not he wants to run before the New Hampshire primary deadline, Dec. 15.
Huffington would certainly not be the first to encourage a possible Powell presidential campaign. Currently, Powell has the support of mentors including former President Bush and Caspar Weinburger, not to mention GOP guru William Kristol and Clinton power broker Verdon Jordan. At first glance, Huffington seems to carry comparatively little political weight or interest, but affairs in Washington are rarely what they appear on the surface.
Huffington's rejection of Dole is instructive because she is what Joe Klein of Newsweek terms a "Newtrino." She is closely associated with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Her columns suggest possible strategy for '96: Newt supports a Powell nomination and in turn Powell gives moral weight to the Republican revolution. Gingrich is a politician and is interested in advancing his career, but more than anything he wants to see the successful completion of the radical new agenda he set out last year. He proved this by declining the offer to run for the presidency.
Huffington's and fellow Newtrinos' trashing of Dole works both ways for Gingrich. On one hand, it necessitates Dole's cooperation with him to sustain Dole's failing powerbase. On the other, it allows him to flirt with the possibility of a deal with Powell. Either way, Gingrich has his foot in the White House door. Both men need his approval.
Gingrich will not endorse Powell until they strike a deal, and no such deal has been discussed as yet. But what the Newtrinos have done is put the revolution back on the agenda. If Dole is plagued by anything it is the lack of a clear agenda. This is not surprising, considering his difficult position as Senate majority leader where his self-described role is to "change, moderate, and amend."
Dole is not a creationist. But that is the second half of the Republican revolution. They began by dismantling the layers of bureaucracy and have begun the rebuilding. Dole's only comment in this respect came at a GOP meeting in Philadelphia when he told the crowd, "I'm willing to be another Ronald Reagan, if that's what you want." Someone should remind the good Senator that we have already defeated Communism. Even Clinton has that one figured out.