Someone, not Arthur Conan Doyle, once wrote a book about Sherlock Holmes called The Seven Percent Solution. Someone in the future, also not Mr. Doyle, may well write a book about President William Clinton called The Mini-Mandate.
Forty-three percent, of course, was the share of the 1992 presidential vote that elected Mr. Clinton.
Off of that vote, smaller even than the vote for Michael Dukakis in 1988, Mr. Clinton has claimed a mandate to give this nation the kind of rule Democrats have typically given it–higher taxes, more spending and more laws limiting freedom and increasing government control over the lives of American citizens and over what remains of the free enterprise system.
Certainly, there is no doubt that upon assuming office the young president began selling with a bang and a flair his ideas of what is good for the people. And why not?
After all, he is a glib, attractive, effective, convincing snake oil salesman who comes across as an earnest, sincere leader, deeply concerned about the middle class and the way he says its members have been abused, cheated, and taken advantage of by the rich.
Add to all this the tendency for most Americans, regardless of party, to give a new president a chance to make good and it is easy to see why, at first glance, the president appears to be making the most of his mini-mandate.
But during his first nearly one-hundred days, Mr. Clinton has chosen some difficult things to sell and has made some decisions which, while winning some acclaim, threaten further to divide the nation.
The first fight the new president picked had to do with allowing overt homosexuals to enlist in and flaunt their homosexuality in the military services. This has run into stiff opposition, however, and has yet to be settled. Indeed it is not certain at this point that the Congress will go along with the proposal in light of heavy objections all through the ranks of the military as well as from great numbers of civilians.
Mr. Clinton has also taken steps to loosen federal restraints on abortion, thus drawing a line in the sand between his administration and the right to life forces, a move that could haunt him in 1996.
Despite these excursions into the socio/cultural areas, Mr. Clinton appears at the moment to be putting most of his political eggs into two baskets, one labeled “Russia” and the other labeled “The Economy.”
The president’s mini-summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, was in a smaller way to Mr. Clinton, what the Gulf War was to President Bush. Mr. Bush used that war to prove, with temporary success at best, that he was an indispensable world leader. Mr. Clinton used the meeting with Yeltsin to try to convince not only America but also the world, that he can deal in foreign affairs. The world jury is going to be out a long time on this one.
The jury that is the American people has not yet digested all the evidence in the case of Mr. Clinton’s stimulus package. However, recent polls have shown they are beginning to understand that if it passes they will be afflicted with a massive new tax burden and a growing deficit, Mr. Clinton’s flowery speeches to the contrary notwithstanding.
While Congressional Republicans do not have the numbers to fight off indefinitely Mr. Clinton’s Democrats they are finding ways to make certain the voters will understand what his proposals will do to their pocketbooks. This may be one reason why Mr. Clinton’s approval ratings have dropped precipitously in the last month to levels lower than those of any recent President for a similar period.
Perhaps the time has now come for Mr. Clinton’s political guru, the redoubtable James Carville, to sneak into the White House and tack a new sign on the door to the Oval Office. It will read, IT’S TAXES, STUPID!