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Tucker Carlson: End of Clinton era is nigh

December 13, 2000
Web posted at: 4:05 p.m. EST (2105 GMT)

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson  

CNN’s Tucker Carlson, the co-host of “The Spin Room,” gives his analysis of Republicans’ take following Wednesday’s whirlwind presidential election developments.

Q: How sweet is this moment for Republicans, that after eight years the apparent end of the Clinton-Gore era is at hand?

CARLSON: I think that’s the key news: The Clinton era is over. I think that there would even have been a certain amount of rejoicing among some Republicans if Gore had won or if Ralph Nader had won or if Satan had won.

The bottom line is that Clinton is gone. Most Republicans will never lose sight of that as the central fact of this election. And that’s good news.

Q: Why is that such good news when polls show that a majority of Americans like Clinton as a president?

CARLSON: That’s a matter of how you measure it. His rating as a president, a lot of pollsters say and I think they’re right, is difficult to measure. It’s almost like asking, ‘How do you think the country is going?’ People say the economy is going well and their lives are fruitful and happy, so then they say they’re happy with the president’s job performance.

If you ask, ‘What do you think of Bill Clinton,’ those numbers are really low. People have an unfavorable opinion of him. That’s why the Gore campaign didn’t bring him out during the election.

Clinton will always have a special place of honor in the conservative pantheon of enemies. He has really been a thorn in the side of Republicans for eight years.

I think conservatives dislike Bill Clinton in a way that they never disliked Al Gore or with a passion they never felt for Gore.

Q: What do you think the first priorities of the new Bush administration will be?

CARLSON: The one thing I’m convinced George W. Bush is good at is bipartisanship. It’s clearly something he enjoys personally. I spent about three months down in Texas doing a story on him about a year-and-a-half ago. The legislature was in session at the time and I did a lot of interviews and watched it (bipartisanship at work).

That was the one thing I came away believing – that it really wasn’t spin, that Bush takes personal pleasure and pride in working with Democrats. I don’t know how successful he’ll be in working with Congress, but I’m convinced he’s going to try hard.

Q: Can Bush be an effective leader after such a bitter fight for the presidency?

CARLSON: Sure he can. It’s going to be much more difficult than it would be for a president who had a clear and powerful mandate.

On the other hand, Republicans control the federal government now. Both houses of Congress and the executive branch are Republican, and they obviously have allies on the U.S. Supreme Court. So, that adds up to the entire national government.

You can say Bush doesn’t have a mandate. That’s true. You can say that Congress is almost evenly divided. That’s true. But on some level, the fact remains Republicans run everything now. So, that’s got to have an effect.

Q: Are we likely to see a conservative social agenda emerging?

CARLSON: No, we’re not because Bush is not a social conservative. At a time when the Boy Scouts are being hounded in the worst way by state and local governments around the country over the gay issue, … that could have been a campaign issue. Bush could have used it, I think, in an appeal to the center – not in an anti-gay way – but he could have made a case aimed at moderates for why you shouldn’t hound a group like the Boy Scouts over an ideological question like this.

But Bush didn’t. He turned down the opportunity to do that. And he turned down a lot of other opportunities to highlight conservative social positions.

He did so because he’s not any kind of Gary Bauer figure.

Q: Do you think the transition process will be affected at all since the Bush team has about a month before Inauguration Day?

CARLSON: The Bush campaign is claiming that they’ve been working hard and they’ve had everything in place and they’re ready to go and they’re going to be able to pull it off.

But it’s really complicated. Thousands of people are going to get new jobs. The whole city and the whole executive branch are changing.

I have a lot of trouble believing they’re going to pull it off seamlessly in a month. On the other hand, I think Democrats, especially in the Senate, are going to be under a lot of pressure not to hold up every nominee who requires Senate confirmation. I don’t think they will.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2000

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