Pubdate: Fri, 18 Aug 2000
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2000 Cox Interactive Media.
Contact: Journal:   Constitution:
Author: James J. Kilpatrick


Los Angeles --- In a famous cartoon some years ago, two intellectual types
are looking at the bruised and bloody body of a fellow who has just been
mugged and beaten. "My, my!" says one of these sidewalk psychiatrists. "The
person who did this really needs our help."

Those two compassionate fellows were Democrats. In the popular image, the
Democratic Party once was the party of bleeding hearts and gentle people.
Back in the days of George McGovern, Gary Hart and Jimmy Carter, the party
was identified with probation, parole, soft sentences and forgive them for
they know not what they do.

To read the Democrats' platform of 2000 is to experience cultural shock.
These Democrats are born-again tigers. They believe that government's most
basic duty "is to establish law, order, and freedom and keep citizens safe
from crime." Hallelujah! The platform says:

"When crime is rampant, families are forced off the streets and behind
closed doors. When children are ducking for cover, they have a hard time
reaching for their dreams. When people are afraid to walk in their own
neighborhood, communities are robbed of the basic sense of decency and
togetherness. When an overburdened justice system lets thugs off easy, good
parents have a harder time teaching their children right from wrong."

Now that is sound Republican doctrine! How did it find its way to Los

There is more. Bill Clinton and Al Gore take credit for putting into place
the most comprehensive anti-crime program ever devised. They have put more
police on the streets, supported tougher punishments, and urged the death
penalty for those who dare to terrorize the innocent. As a result, serious
crime is down for the seventh year in a row.

They will toughen the laws against violent crime. They will reform a justice
system that spills half a million prisoners back onto our streets each year
- --- many of them addicted to drugs, unrehabilitated, and just waiting to
commit another crime.

They will break up drug rings in the nation's prisons. They will dry up drug
demand, hold up drugs at the border, open more drug courts and stiffen the
penalties for those who would use children to peddle drugs.

They will seek tougher penalties against all sex offenders and raise the
penalties for those who commit crimes against the elderly. They will urge
strict supervision of those who have been just released on parole. They will
run after deadbeat dads and make them pay up. They will seek a
constitutional amendment to protect the rights of that poor guy who was just

These are Democrats talking? Eight years ago, in New York, the Democrats had
nothing at all to say about federal courts. Four years ago, in Chicago,
again they stayed mum.

Here in Los Angeles the platform contains a single paragraph on the matter
of judicial nominees. They promise that Al Gore will appoint justices to the
Supreme Court "who have a demonstrated concern for and commitment to the
individual rights protected by our Constitution, including the right to
privacy." George W. Bush couldn't have stated a better policy.

The Republicans in Philadelphia also got into constitutional rights,
including the rights of gun owners and unborn babies. They renewed their
support of a constitutional amendment to punish desecration of the flag.

They promised to safeguard property rights by enforcing the Takings Clause
of the Fifth Amendment. They affirmed the right of public schools to post
copies of the Ten Commandments, and they promised a reform of malpractice

It's hard to know quite what to make of all this. On the Democratic side,
the kitten has turned into a tiger. The Republican elephant is trumpeting
calls for still more law and still more order. Some of these ideas ---
notably the ideas of constitutional amendment --- are bad ideas, but the
platforms contain some solid planks to stand on.
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