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The importance of Bill Simon and George Bush
By Bruce Walker
Which Bill Simon and which George Bush? The stunning primary victory of Bill Simon over a popular, rich, and well known two-term Mayor of Los Angeles should send ripples throughout both political parties. While many some conservative pundits have already begun making comparisons between Bill Simon and Ronald Reagan, and while some liberal pundits have already tagged Bill Simon as the next Bret Shundler, the failed conservative Republican candidate in New Jersey last November, neither of these comparisons is accurate.
Bill Simon does not have the inspiring eloquence of Ronald Reagan. No American president in the last century has possessed the power to reach the conscience and soul of America like Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan in 1966 was already well known and well liked. He had already established himself as a political icon with "The Speech" which Reagan delivered at the Republican Convention in 1964.
But Bill Simon is emphatically not another Bret Schundler, who never won the endorsement of support of the Republican establishment in New Jersey. Richard Riordan has already endorsed Simon, and his words are not lukewarm. Riordan has every reason to resent Gray Davis' attacks on him during the Republican primary, and Riordan has no reason to resent the fairly fought campaign of Bill Simon.
It is not the Republicans who will be divided in the general election, but the Democrats. This is the reverse of the situation in New Jersey, where a united minority Democrat Party ousted a divided and squabbling Republican majority party. The edge in party unity clearly goes to Simon over Davis.
The odd contention during the Republican primary that Bill Simon was not a real Republican and has spent his life as an independently-minded and politically uninvolved individual will help not hurt Simon in the general election. Gray Davis' tactic will doubtless be to portray Simon as some sort of extreme right wing nut, and Simon's image in the eyes of Californians is that he makes up his own mind and does not march in lockstep with his party.
If Bill Simon is not Ronald Reagan and is not Bret Schundler, then who is he? He is his father's son, just like George Bush. Consider the similarities to another gubernatorial campaign eight years ago. Political novice George W. Bush ran against incumbent Ann Richards in a big, sprawling state that bordered Mexico and had a large Mexican population. The Republican challenger was not so much glib as sincere. Sounds like Bill Simon today.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bush also had a father of the same name, just like Republican gubernatorial candidate Simon today. Both fathers earned and deserved the respect of all Americans, and particularly the citizens of the states in which their sons ran for governor.
George H. Bush was a congressman from Houston before he began the long trail of good service in critical posts that led to the Vice Presidency and then the White House itself. He has always been a class act. Ordinary people see that this dedication to the good of the nation and this serious concern about integrity has rubbed off on his son.
William Simon, who died in June 2000, was another class act. His mastery of economic and financial matters was demonstrated not only as Secretary of Treasury, Administrator of the Federal Energy Administration, Chairman of the Economic Policy Board, and Chairman of the East-West Trade Board, but also as a very successful businessman before ever entering government service.
Secretary Simon wrote two solid conservative best sellers A Time for Truth in 1978 (which previewed much of what President Reagan would later do) and A Time for Action in 1980. He was President of the U.S. Olympic Committee during the fabulously popular 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games, which was perhaps the greatest athletic event in the history of California.
Bill Simon - the next Governor of California - is everything that Gray Davis is not. He glows the same obvious and almost palpable decency that makes President Bush so easy to trust and like and so hard to dislike. He understands the real world of business at precisely the time when California needs someone who can actually solve problems. Unlike Gray Davis, who was close pals with Gary Condit and who shakes down businesses for campaign funds, Bill Simon is "Simon pure" and the ethical chasm between these two men will become apparent quickly.
The Democrats in California have a Congresswoman who did not think crashing airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was an act of war, a Lieutenant Governor who casually throws around racial slurs, and a Governor who has proposed an illegal state budget and who has proven unable to resolve the state's power crisis. These Democrats suffer from the most fatal of political diseases: hubris.
So eight years after George Bush, the son of another famous George Bush, surprised America by beating a popular incumbent Democrat, Bill Simon, the son of another famous Bill Simon, will defeat another entrenched incumbent Democrat.
What will that mean to national politics? California is essential to Democrat hopes of electing a president in the next eleven years. A popular, conservative Governor Simon on the Republican ticket could make California, and so the Presidency, Republican for the next decade.
Eleven years or more of Republican presidents will mean a very conservative Supreme Court that could actually begin to restore individual rights and sovereign power to state governments. The lunacy of "political correctness" has reached a point that begs for a plain reading of the Constitution, and without federal courts, the Gestapo of radical Leftists have no place to go.
Governor Simon, as soon as he took the oath of office in January 2003, would take Republicans from powerlessness in the second most important government in America to having a majority of political power. Republican minorities in the state legislature would easily be sustained, and that ability to stop any Democrat budget plans, along with his executive power as Governor, would mean that Republicans would go from no power in state government to most of the power in state government.
Perhaps most importantly, the election of Bill Simon's son to Governor of California will make Election Night 2002 a clear triumphant for Republicans. If Tom Daschle is demoted to Minority Leader again that night, and if Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives, then Democrats will have almost no power to buy votes and to intimidate the legions of honest, hard-working citizens who want to be free from the manacles of Democrat rule.
None of the cognoscenti expected Bill Simon to win on March 5th, but he won by a landslide. None of these same savants will predict that Bill Simon will beat Gray Davis until about 9:00 on the evening of November 5, 2002. But the son of another great Republican conservative is about to put the finishing touches on the Republican Revolution. George Bush and Bill Simon: great fathers and great sons.
Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also
a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
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