CUOMO: Run Like You Mean it, Bill
Political candidates tend to run their campaigns based on how they think things will finally turn out. It's not a bad strategy most of the time. But if the calculation is too cautious, it can drain the life from a campaign and leave you with nothing to run on. Let's look at this November. What are the most likely possible results?1. Clinton wins, but Congress stays Republican.This is probably what the Clinton campaign believes will happen, and they're running that way -- driven by a guarded optimism that makes the campaign afraid to take any strong positions. For the country, President-Clinton- plus-a-Republican-Congress would obviously mean more status quo -- more gridlock, more grandstanding, and more roadblocks in every direction. The question is, if the President wins this way, what does he win? If you run a campaign with no clear positive thrust, if you don't dare give people something to vote for, you squeak into office with no mandate for change -- and you leave in the hallway those Democratic congressional candidates who can't win if your party stands for nothing, but could have helped you get things done .2. Dole wins, and Congress stays Republican.It's hard to believe an election that produced a Dole victory would also give the Democrats control of either house of Congress. That means a Dole win would guarantee Gingrichism across the board: a Congress and a White House working hand in hand to make harsh new laws out of every bill that met Presidential resistance this year -- from abortion restrictions and the loss of environmental safeguards to a crackdown on immigration and a ruthless new round of welfare reform.For Dole to win, he would need more to work with than the "character" hand grenades he's been throwing -- and which seem unable to hurt the President materially in any poll. The only possibility would be a gas can of new revelations late in the campaign -- and even then the American people may still decide they simply don't care, and they'd rather have a tarnished Clinton than a tattered old Dole.3. Clinton wins -- with a mandate strong enough to carry the Democrats back to power in one or both houses of Congress.If this is what the President wants, he needs to start running this way! Winning as the UnGingrich, the "mitigator of Republican Congressional harshness" will not give the country the positive push it needs. Let the country see it as a battle between the Republicans' narrow, hard-edged philosophy that "God helps those whom God has helped" and the President's rational, moderate, constructive commitment to "community," growth, and positive change. Let the people have something delicious to believe in -- instead of a smorgasbord of cynical sour choices to reject!If the President were only willing to run that way, he might have a chance to govern that way, too.