C-NEWS: INSIGHT on Keyes (fwd)
edward01 at IMAP2.ASU.EDU
Mon Jul 22 20:45:53 MDT 1996
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 09:38:02 -0500 (CDT)
From: David A. Kincaid <dkincaid at mail.orion.org>
To: c-news at world.std.com
Subject: C-NEWS: INSIGHT on Keyes (fwd)
The following is scheduled to appear in INSIGHT magazine next week.
The author, Professor Thomas Lindsay, gives permission to forward and
distribute it for the purpose of advancing Declaration principles.
_Keyes to a Dole White House_, by Thomas K. Lindsay
Adlai Stevenson, the failed Democratic presidential nominee in
'52 and '56, was entertaining audience questions after a stump speech.
A woman arose and congratulated the Illinoisan, "Sir, what you say is
very thoughtful. I'm sure you'll get the vote of every thinking man and
woman in America."
Stevenson bowed deeply, answering, "Thank you madame. But that
won't be enough. You see, I need a majority."
Bob Dole knows the feeling. While history will place Bill
Clinton's among the more vacuous of presidencies, most polls give the
president a double-digit lead.
To wake up the electorate, the customarily cautious Kansan must
do something drastic. He must flout Beltway wisdom and pick a dynamic
The rule is that a presidential nominee never should choose a
Veep more charismatic than he. Yet picking a typically boring running
mate would only accent the dullness for which the Dole team has already
been flayed by the press and even some Republicans.
But why Alan Keyes? Why the former U.N. ambassador, who has lost
bids for the U.S. Senate as well as for this year's Republican
First, picking the eloquently pro-life Keyes would extinguish any
possibility of a Buchanan uprising in San Diego, and it would do so in a
way that least rankles pro-choice Republicans, for Keyes, unlike
Buchanan, grounds his pro-life case not on his religion but on the
universal moral principles of the Declaration of Independence--in the
same manner that Lincoln appealed to the Declaration on the slavery question.
No active politician today better understands and explains the
moral foundations of America's principles than does Keyes. A Harvard
Ph.D. who is proficient in five languages, Keyes was a student of the
late Allan Bloom, whose best-selling _Closing of the American Mind_
launched the project to rescue American education.
But Keyes is no mere egghead. He is the most gifted orator of
our day. After hearing Keyes speak, liberal journalist Michael Lewis
conceded, "I was struck dumb by the force of his eloquence. After the
first twenty minutes I looked up at [_Washington Post_ reporter] Joel
[Achenbach] and found that he was looking back at me with the same
stunned expression. 'I don't know about you,'" said Achenbach, "'but
I'm about to go work for the guy.'"
That a majority of voters would likewise identify with this black
man's message is proved by Colin Powell's popularity. During most of
Powell-mania, voters knew little about his politics. But they knew him
to be a successful black man of character. Part of the reason so many
whites and blacks embraced Powell is that both races are heartsick over
the growing racial polarization made conspicuous by incidents like the
O.J. verdict. Most blacks and whites believe and want to prove that
America can deliver on the promise of the Declaration of Independence.
In Powell they have seen living testimony to the Declaration's dream of
color-blind success won through hard work and character.
Keyes's intellect and oratory far outstrip Powell's. True, he
would hardly receive the media love feast Powell enjoys. But Keyes's
conservatism, so offensive to the elite media, would endear him to many
Reagan Democrats and blacks--polls show that most blacks are much closer
to Keyes' moral vision than to Jesse Jackson's. And this makes Keyes a
"wedge" candidate against not only the Democrats' core constituency but
also against the media itself. The GOP must face facts: it faces not
only a Democratic party enraged and energized by its losses in '94, but
also an elite media equally enraged over those losses. So Mr. Dole must
find a way to take the venom out of the network news's sound bites.
Keyes would perform this task superbly--and the media know it.
That's why, during this year's Republican primaries, the media kept
Keyes' candidacy a secret. Their studied neglect turned vicious when
Keyes was handcuffed by Atlanta police in order to prevent his taking
part in a televised debate. To the extent that this atrocity wasn't
ignored by the media, it was distorted.
But the first black ever on a presidential ticket could not be
ignored. And this is where Keyes works as a wedge against media bias.
At first, of course, the press would attempt to gang-rape him, a la Dan
Quayle. That's just fine for the Dole campaign, for then blacks and
everyone else would get a first-hand glimpse of the condescension that
too often lies just beneath liberal "compassion" for minorities. And we
would see that, unlike Pat Buchanan, but like Ronald Reagan, the core of
Keyes's message is optimistic. With unparalled persuasiveness, Keyes
demonstrates that the restoration of economic and social health will
follow our return to the marriage-based, two-parent family and our
revival of the Declaration's color-blind principle of equal opportunity
Of course, the elite media may opt to hide behind black
surrogates who label Keyes a Reagan Uncle Tom. Fine. Pity Jesse
Jackson, or any other liberal, self-styled black leader, forced to debate
Keyes. Pity more Al Gore.
And pity the GOP if it fails to see in Keyes a historic
opportunity. No politician today is more equipped to lay down a truly
American vision for the 21st century, for none better makes the case for
self-help over dependency, individual self-restraint over
government-subsidized irresponsibility, and for the sanctity and
sensibleness of the two-parent family. Keyes's intellect, eloquence, and
energy would prove priceless in the coming debate over what type of
people we are to become. Over this the '96 election will and should turn.
We live in one of those rare times when politics can approach
poetry: in 1863, Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, gave flesh to the
Declaration's word. How fitting and proper today for a member of the
group formerly emancipated to breathe new life into the Declaration's
A risky strategy? Sure. But if Dole's days of double-digit
discontent continue, Keyes could turn out to be the only man who can save
the Kansan from eternal comparisons to Adlai Stevenson.
Thomas K. Lindsay is an Adjunct Scholar at the Heritage
Foundation and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University
of Northern Iowa.
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