INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Taking big media's bait and running with it in the 2000 Senate and presidential horse races

We all know the facts, and so when Rudolph Giuliani or Hillary Clinton gives a speech or comments on a public question, we're ready to accept the experts' answers.

We all know the facts, and so when Rudolph Giuliani or Hillary Clinton gives a speech or comments on a public question, we're ready to accept the experts' answers. Hence, Ms. Clinton is a carpetbagger who can be laughed at because she's not even a New Yorker. Rudolph Giuliani is popular, and he will be her opponent?no other Republican will run.

Al Gore is wooden and boring, and can't beat George W. Bush?but Bill Bradley has the charisma to do so. Bush has momentum, seizes opportunities and is a 'compassionate conservative' who has raised a ton of money and is unbeatable.

And so it goes. Clinton and Gore are feuding, Kosovo is a disaster for the Democrats?all the comfortable political cliches roll on and the daily news analyses are based on them. It is a curious time, in which the spinning is done by the spin-ees, the big media are writing the campaign in advance and all the lesser political writers go along.

The unfortunate fact is that all these hypotheses are wrong?dead wrong.

But as long as they're accepted by the elite political writers, not even the strongest spin doctor can change them. For instance, New Yorkers don't care about carpetbaggers. The writers and experts all tell us of Robert F. Kennedy's special circumstances that brought him to victory in the 1964 New York Senate race, and that information is followed by the 'facts' that show the new female carpetbagger can't possibly win.

But they all ignore that New York has virtually a tradition of voting for carpetbaggers. The Robert Kennedy Senate election was followed by the 1970 election, in which a Republican from Connecticut, James Buckley, was elected from New York. He was a brother of columnist William F. Buckley, but that made him no less from Connecticut. And his successor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, had to move to New York from Cambridge, MA, to take office, saved from charges of carpetbagger only by his boyhood in New York City's Hell's Kitchen.

And Mayor Giuliani will very likely be challenged in a Republican primary by Rep. Rick Lazio, and polls show Lazio within striking distance. But Clinton v. Lazio doesn't sell in Manhattan, which is where the major media spin their web.

And in the 'Big' race, based on the media horse race of dollars per vote, it's Bush with big totals and big momentum. But Texans John Connelly and Phil Gramm also had big bucks.

This election has the Washington PR pols worried; the 'little guys' are spinning and the big guys?the columnists and bureau chiefs?are taking the bait and running with it.

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