Congressional RepublicansThough Clinton always maintains a strong Baptist faith, his perception among conservative Christians as a moral relativist and a secular politician sparks a huge wave of moral indignation and anger among this faction, driving the huge gains by conservatives in both federal and state elections. Conversely, the Bush sons, George W. and Jeb, overtly embrace the Religious Right in their campaigns for governor. Jeb takes the harder line in Florida, publicly writing off the black vote and selecting an evangelical Christian as his running mate. He narrowly loses to moderate Democrat Lawton Chiles. George W. profits from a deeper base of conservative Christian voters in Texas, and his handlers, Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, ensure that he didn't present himself as such an overt fundamentalist as to scare more moderate voters. He wins an upset victory over incumbent Ann Richards, and forged a political coalition of religious fundamentalists and wealthy businessmen that would serve him in good stead in his 2000 bid for the presidency. The lesson of presenting a moderate face also sticks; in the national spotlight in 1998 and 1999, Bush becomes a "compassionate conservative," and relied on words like "education," "children," "reading," and "literacy," phraseologies that wouldn't alarm evangelicals and would entice moderate voters. Bush's presidential campaign will always keep the back door open for the emissaries of the religious right, who will be assured that once the campaign was over, their candidate would be freer to support their agenda.
Congressional Republicansonce Republicans are in charge of the House of Representatives as well as the White House, they move to control the lobbying industry as well. Many prominent lobbying firms on Washington's K Street and others are told to hire only Republican applicants. In 1996, RNC chairman Haley Barbour gathjers a group of lobbying-firm CEOs and tells them to "purge" their companies of Democrats. As of Bush's first term, Republican senator Rick Santorum holds weekly meetings where conservatives pore over every job applicant to any Washington lobbying firm and ensure only Republicans are hired.
Congressional RepublicansIn a private speech to business lobbyists at the Capital Hill Club, he tells his listeners that he looks forward to as many as twenty different Congressional committees investigating the Clinton administration, which he calls "the enemy of normal Americans." The new chairmen of the House and Senate Banking Committees, James Leach and Alfonse D'Amato, announce that they intend to open more investigations of the Clintons, using Whitewater as a springboard. The power shift benefits former fringe organizations like Citizens United. CU's two main operatives, Floyd Brown and David Bossie, which have been tirelessly smearing Clinton from the sidelines for years, find themselves with new access to the highest level of power. "People who answer our phone calls now have 'Chairman' before their names," Brown brags to The Nation magazine, which describes Brown as "elated by the prospect of a swarm of subpoenas flying off Capital Hill towards 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." Brown pressures his newly empowered Congressional contacts to reopen the investigation into the Vince Foster suicide, and to open an investigation into Clinton's supposed connections to the drug-smuggling ring formerly operating out of the Mena, Arkansas airport. Arkansas white supremacist Jim Johnson, a virulent Clinton opponent, tells an interviewer in February 1995 that there is "absolutely no doubt in my mind that the government of the United States was an active participant in one of the largest dope operations in the world, and that the [former] governor of Arkansas enjoyed a benefit from its success." Whereas rants by the likes of Brown and Johnson formerly fell upon skeptical ears in Congress, now these and other Clinton conspiracy theorists have an eager and powerful audience.
George W. BushHis brother Jeb loses in his bid to become Florida's governor. When Bush agrees to run, at the behest of his friends in professional baseball who want to discourage him from pursuing the position of commissioner of baseball, he confides to business partner Roland Betts, "You know, I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything." Bush wins due to a carefully crafted campaign by political consultant Karl Rove, who manages to bring down Richards through a series of false attacks on Richards's record, and an ugly, baseless whispering campaign alleging that Richards was packing state government with homosexuals, a tactic that blossomed when Republican state senator Bill Ratliff publicly criticized Richards for "appointing avowed homosexual activists" to state jobs. (Rove released a statement praising Ratliff, but claimed that the Bush campaign did not wish to associate itself with the allegations of gays in office, an interesting statement considering that Rove engineered the entire whispering campaign.) Richards's campaign spokesman Chuck McDonald says that Bush political operatives, particularly Rove, are known for having supporters spread lies about their opponent while the candidate himself stays above the fray. James Moore and Wayne Slater write, "There actually were two campaigns against Richards, one in which Bush floated above the fray and another in which Rove targeted the Democrat's politics and gender. It was an arrangement that allowed Bush plausible deniability, no matter what. And it was a model of future Bush races. Bush traveling the high road, Rove pursuing the low. Bush's strategy in the Richards race was simple enough. Bush the candidate engages his Democratic opponent by respectfully challenging her record on improving public schools and fighting crime. Meanwhile, Bush surrogates, operating at arm's length, undermine Richards on the issues of guns and gays, including a vicious whisper campaign about lesbianism that ran with an evangelical fervor through the coffee shops and church parlors of East Texas."
George W. Busha stance crafted by political consultant Karen Hughes. Once in office, Bush will defund public health clinics in favor of funding church-run establishments like Marvin Olansky's infamous "Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center," which does little for pregnant women besides harangue them with anti-abortion propaganda. Bush will shepherd the passage of a law allowing church-based establishments to "opt out" of state licensing requirements; when the law passes in 1997, a private, evangelical-run center for troubled teens called Rebekah House will reopen. Rebekah House had been shut down in 1985 after it was revealed that its rehabilation routine included beatings, isolation, and hours spent kneeling on hard floors with a Bible in each hand and pencils under each knee to ensure stillness. (Laura Flanders)
George W. Bush"refused to let Texans vote on whether citizens of our state should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. ...[A] 'concealed carry' law would make Texas a safer place." Bush promises to hold a public referendum on whether to end Texas's 125-year ban on concealed weapons. Yet once in the governor's office, Bush flip-flops and refuses to schedule the public vote, telling legislators "we [already] had a referendum on November 8th." Texas law enforcement officials fear that Bush will simply push a concealed-carry law into effect; Mark Clark, the spokesman for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, says that "the level of violence on the streets right now is unacceptable. It makes no sense to me as a police officer...to say, 'Let's put more guns out there to try and solve the violence issue.'" Although Bush will not succeed in passing a concealed-carry law, in 1999 he will sign an NRA-backed bill that prohibits city, county, and local governments from suing firearm and ammunition manufacturers to recoup public money spent on combating gun violence, having his spokeswoman Karen Hughes claim that such a law would spark "frivolous lawsuits." Bush will toe the NRA line in refusing to back mandatory trigger locks, hidden serial numbers, or smart-gun technologies that would limit the use of guns in criminal activities and reduce the number of accidental shootings. And as president, he will back legislation granting gun manufacturers complete immunity from lawsuits. Bush ignores the statement of the Million Mom March organization: "Good gun dealers don't need immunity. Bad gun dealers don't deserve it." (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
George W. BushArcher is notorious for telling Hispanics that the high rate of pregnancies in their communities is due to their culture, and say they don't want family planning. Archer will try to close school-based health clinics because they discussed family planning and abortion as an option to pregnancy. He will publish a state government booklet for young women filled with false information about breast cancer's supposed relationship to abortion. Bush will back him through scandal after scandal, until an African-American woman doctor tape-records Archer telling her she was "too smart" in using her intellect to get ahead: "that's what Anglos do, that's what white people do," Archer tells her. (Laura Flanders)
George W. BushGone is the predominance of old-money Northeasterners and Midwestern business magnates. Instead, the party is being taken over by hardline religious fundamentalists best personified by the Southern Baptist Convention. As historian Kevin Phillips writes, "...[T]he GOP would absorb from the SBC a doctrinal fervor that went well beyond mainstream white southern views, on issues that included the Bible as the literal word of God...the basic wrongness of premarital sex...and the invariable wrongness of homosexuality.... To this new GOP constituency, Clinton was anathema, and state and national Southern Baptist Conventions were soon humming with denunciatory resolutions." 80% of southern white evangelical Christians voted Republican in the 1994 elections, and the Texas Bush political machine, led by Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, was not slow to recognize the shift in constituency and adjust their campaign accordingly.
Conservative hate speech and intolerance"To cite the themes that have particularly roiled Congress under Clinton and Bush -- taxes, the federal budget, the environment, gun control, campaign finance, government support of religion, military readiness and pre-emptive attacks, homeland security, and unilateralist foreign policy -- is to illustrate that extreme thinking was no longer routinely the province of the old Dixiecrat states from South Carolina to Louisiana. On two-thirds of these subjects, the 'ultra' views now came from Texas think tanks, congressional delegations, and political rhetoric, including the Bush White House. The Texas origins of America's first serious presidential dynasty only underscored the salience of three of its distinguishing mindsets: Texanomics, crony capitalism, and the need of both Bush presidents to dress their Texas-rooted agendas in 'kinder, gentler' imagery and supposed 'compassionate conservatism.'" (Kevin Phillips)
George W. BushLay turns the chore over to Enron's president and chief operations officer, Richard Kinder. Lay, Kinder, and other Enron executives ultimately donate $146,500 to the Bush campaign, over seven times what they donated to the Richards campaign. Once Bush is in office, Lay began lobbying him, with great success. In December 1994, he will ask Bush to name Patrick Wood, a supporter of energy deregulation, to head the Texas Public Utility Commission, a request Bush is happy to grant. Lay writes a note to Bush that reads, "The Public Utility Commission appointment is an extremely critical one. We believe that Pat Wood is best qualified.... Linda joins me in wishing you and Laura and the whole family a joyous holiday. Sincerely, Ken." Under Wood, Texas energy consumers will eventually pay out $9 billion in surcharges collected by the state's power companies as part of a number of "price hikes" engendered by Lay's scheme to deregulate Texas's power industry. (Wood will take a similar post in the Bush administration after Bush's election to the presidency, where he will wink at the market gaming of California's energy industry.) Lay also steers a number of visitors to Bush's office over his term of office, including a representative from Uzbekistan after Enron began negotiating with that country to develop energy interests there. Kinder, Bush's head of campaign fundraising, will serve on a commission that will recommend cutting $3 billion in state taxes on energy and other capital-intensive industries, and advocates shifting the revenue burden onto services and professionals. In 1995, Enron will spend $50,000 on the Bush inauguration, and $50,000 more for the 1999 follow-up. (Kevin Phillips. Greg Palast)
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"Enron is able to win dozens of global contracts for energy development, making it the world's first global utility and energy-trading firm. Historian Kevin Phillips explains Enron's global success in two words: "crony capitalism." During the '90s, US and foreign government agencies will give Enron $7.2 billion in publicly funded financing for 38 projects in 29 countries. The World Bank will pressure foreign countries to privatize their economies, often to Enron's benefit. Domestically, Enron is booming. In 1993, Enron was one of only 11 power-marketing companies in the United States; by 1997, it will be first among 284 such companies, such growth aided by pressure from GOP members of state governments to deregulate energy on a state and local level. In 1998, California will be the first to open its energy markets, and by early 2000, 24 states will open their markets to private energy merchants. Governor Bush will work diligently from his base in Texas to pressure other states to open their markets as well. In 1997, Bush will phone Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to ask him to open Pennsylvania's energy markets; Ridge will comply. When Texas lawmakers balk at opening Texas to Enron and other private energy merchants, Kenneth Lay adds his own pressure, often using Governor Bush to exhort other governors to follow suit. In 1999, in the face of strong Democratic opposition, the Texas legislature will vote to open its energy markets. (Kevin Phillips)
George W. BushHis education reforms focus on dropout rates and test scores by creating strong incentives to falsify dropout rates by mislabeling them as transferred or enrolled in GED programs, and by encouraging low-scoring students to take the alternative of GED tests. (Bush-Kerry Timeline)
Republican corruptionThe politically ambitious daughter of a powerful family, whose fortunes were spurred by her grandfather, citrus and cattle tycoon Ben Hill Griffin (also a former state senator), Harris wins in part because of a timely $30,000 donation from Riscorp, an insurance company. In 1996, Harris will repay the favor by sponsoring a piece of legislation written entirely by Riscorp executives. Subsequently, Riscorp and its CEO, Bill Griffin, are found guilty of making $382,000 in illegal campaign contributions, including the Harris donation. A memo found by the FBI from a Riscorp executive secretary reads, "Katherine's office called and asked if we could give them different addresses to list for each of the checks. All the checks show the P.O. Box 1598 address and if we submit these, the newspaper will probably make the connection and track them all to Riscorp." Despite the obvious proof of complicity and campaign fraud, Harris manages to duck prosecution by paying the contributions back three years after the fact, though prosecutors name her campaign manager as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Riscorp case. In 1998 she will win the election for Florida Secretary of State after spending over $1 million of her own money; the secretary of state is, among other things, charged with ensuring fair and impartial elections. The head of Common Cause in Florida will muse on the Harris candidacy, "How can you come down on somebody else for violating something when you have a reputation for violating the law yourself?" (NNDB, Laura Flanders)
Congressional RepublicansIn 1993, he helped a business colleague get a loan from BCCI, the bank that is under investigation for international corruption. Hatch defended BCCI on the floor of the Senate even after BCCI officials admitted their guilt in laundering drug money, and for a time seemed vulnerable; however, after being cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee of wrongdoing, Utah Republican officials ensured that Hatch would run unopposed in the Republican primary, and, thus bolstered, regained his footing and easily defeated his Democratic opponent. (Hilton and Testa)
Congressional RepublicansWatts quickly becomes a familiar face for Republicans, allowing himself to be trotted out for the media time and again to put an African-American face on conservative policies. He refuses to join the Congressional Black Caucus, saying that it is "infested" with "Democratic liberals who betray black people in America." In 1997 he calls the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Washington DC mayor Marion Barry "race-hustling poverty pimps" and accuses them of "just wanting to move us to another plantation." In his successful campaign for re-election in 1996, news of Watts's fathering of two children out of wedlock twenty years before, a situation that does not seem to faze Watts's fellow family-values conservatives. Watts will leave Congress in 2004, publicly saying that he wants to spend more time with his family, but privately hinting that he is tired of being put on public display by his fellow conservatives while in private his concerns for African-Americans are routinely ignored. (Hilton and Testa)
Karl RoveHis only loss is with an Alabama Supreme Court candidate, Harold See. Rove ran a breathtakingly vicious campaign for See against Democratic incumbent Mark Kennedy, a charismatic judge who for decades had been a staunch advocate for the rights of abused and neglected children. Kennedy, who co-founded the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama and began the Corporate Foundation for Children, and who had just completed a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, resonates with voters through the use of television advertisements hawking his lifelong commitment to children and his achievements on their behalf. Rove decides to use his favorite tactic of turning an opponent's strength into a weakness. Going from an image from one Kennedy ad showing Kennedy holding hands with a child, Rove decided that the See campaign would portray Kennedy as a closet pedophile. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," recalls a former Rove staffer from the campaign.
Ronald ReaganNovember 5: Former President Reagan discloses that he is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease. He will never make a public appearance again. (PBS)
Domestic terrorisma local abortion provider, is shot and wounded while eating breakfast. Romalis is shot by an unknown sniper, wielding an AK-47, who fires through the back window. Romalis and his family have been picketed and stalked by anti-abortion extremists for months. The incident gives traction to Canadian attempts to ban assault rifles in that country. (Washington Post, Washington Post)
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceRepublican senator Jesse Helms tells the press that if Clinton visits his home state of North Carolina, he had "better watch out if he comes down here. He'd better have a bodyguard." Journalist Paul Waldman observes, "Although threatening the president is a federal crime, the Justice Department showed no interest in prosecuting Helms." (CNN/Paul Waldman)
Whitewater / Lewinsky and related "scandals"As part of a plea bargain, Hubbell will plead guilty to two such felonies; Starr officials excitedly inform the press that Hubbell will soon become "the John Dean of Whitewater;" the prediction, of course, is false, mostly because there is no information of a criminal nature for Hubbell or anyone else to reveal. The press also faithfully reprints a Starr commission outline of just how Hubbell's plea bargain helps the investigation. The conviction actually proves that Hubbell victimized his former law partner Hillary Clinton, along with his other law partners, by his overbilling and expense-account padding, not to mention accepting the high position at the Justice Department without admitting to his history. Worse, Hubbell had lied to Bill Clinton for months about his innocence, and solicited other White House officials like Erskine Bowles to find him legal work. Hubbell's crimes had nothing to do with the Clintons, but neither the OIC nor the national press acknowledge that fact. (Los Angeles Times/Washington Times/James Carville, Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)