||Tucker Carlson is a CNN political analyst and contributes to The Weekly Standard and Talk magazines. He is providing exclusive analysis to CNN allpolitics.com during the election season.|
Tucker Carlson: Taking credit for the economy may prove risky for Gore
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Talk to the people who write Al Gore's talking points and they'll tell you that their candidate is running for president on a variety of issues: health
care, gun control, abortion, campaign finance reform, the economy. Listen to
Al Gore's speeches and you realize that what Gore is really running on is the
economy, particularly the booming stock market.
Or as it is now semi-officially known in the Clinton Administration, 'the Longest Peacetime Economic Expansion in History.' Gore alludes to the bull market at every
appearance. "It didn't just happen," he reminds audiences.
In other words: "Bill Clinton and I made it happen, and I can make it
But what if Gore can't? What if the recent tremors in financial
markets were to develop into a full-blown earthquake? At that point Gore
could find himself in deep political trouble.
If the economy goes south, Gore will discover that the essential rationale for his candidacy has evaporated. What will he run on then? His credentials as a campaign finance reformer? His personal charm?
No one prays more fervently for a continued economic boom than Al Gore.
Unfortunately for him, even the Longest Peacetime Economic Expansion in
History must come to an end at some point.
Two basic questions remain: When will the market cool down, and who will be blamed for it? The answer to the first question might be unknowable. The answer to the second could very well be Al Gore.
Prices on the Nasdaq plunged into near chaos earlier this week. Were the wild
fluctuations a direct result of the Clinton Administration's suit against
Microsoft? It is impossible to know for sure.
Cause and effect is difficult to prove when it comes to stock prices; many of the high tech companies in question were almost certainly overvalued anyway.
On the other hand, it shouldn't be difficult for the Bush campaign to pin the
blame squarely on the policies of Clinton-Gore. More Americans have more
retirement money tied up in stocks than ever before. Thanks to 401 K plans,
the market is rapidly replacing Social Security as middle-income America's
economic safety net.
Suddenly, fluctuations in the Nasdaq matter to ordinary people. It's easy to imagine how George W. Bush could harness the issue. When Al Gore and his Justice Department tampered with Microsoft, Bush might say, they tampered with your future.
Would it be a fair attack? That's debatable. But it would be a devastating