Man of the Year

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: In a couple of weeks, Time magazine will announce it's Man of the Year, an award that goes to the biggest newsmaker of 1996. The smart money's backing Bill Clinton, but Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis has a pick that may surprise you.

My choice for man is the year is......drum roll please......

Bill Clinton.

Before you faint, remember "Man of the Year" isn't an endorsement. The Ayatollah Khomeni won once.

First, give credit where it's due: from the standpoint of realpolitik, Clinton's turnaround was impressive. He became the first re-elected Democrat since FDR.

But it's what his election represents that earns Bill Clinton my vote.

Unfortunately, it signals a shift by a majority of voters that says character really doesn't matter. We talk a good game about values. We don't back it up at the polls.

On the other hand, how was Bill Clinton reelected? By running as a stealth Republican. Moral considerations aside, our political values have undergone a tectonic shift -- rightward. Bill Clinton learned from 1994. He coopted one conservative idea after another. The president who courted homosexuals and tried to socialize medicine wound up signing the Defense of Marriage Act and -- while he lied about it during the campaign -- offered Medicare reforms barely different from the GOP's.

For presiding over the, alas, amoral victory of conservatism, for embodying our contradictory public mood at century's end, Bill Clinton is my Man of the Year.

Well, those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Tomorrow, Pete du Pont has some thoughts on recent revelations that the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall might have been an FBI informant.

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