Monday, August 12, 1996

Choice of Kemp
gives Dole campaign a boost

TRAILING badly in the opinion polls, Bob Dole has behaved like the pragmatic politician he is. He has embraced the supply-side economic theory that he had long spurned and chosen perhaps its most ardent advocate as his running mate in an attempt to energizehis campaign. Jack Kemp and Bob Dole have been adversaries more often than allies, but political realities have overwhelmed such considerations.

Kemp is younger, a better public speaker and a vigorous exponent of the deep tax cuts that Dole now proposes. This could turn out to be an inspired choice. Dole will need all the help that Kemp can give him. Kemp was a key supporter of Ronald Reagan on supply-side economics and authored the 1981 tax cut.

But those were different times - the economy was in recession - and the Republicans had a different leader. Dole is no Ronald Reagan, but he's trying to be, and he has one of the original supply siders to help him.

In the short run, the favorable reception of Kemp's selection gives Dole a boost going into the Republican convention this week in San Diego.

But the week may not be a breeze for the candidate. There are already bruised feelings over the abortion issue. The decision to deny governors of two important states - Pete Wilson of California and William Weld of Massachusetts - opportunities to address the convention because of their pro-abortion views could prove costly.

This could be a repeat of the 1992 convention, which was dominated by ultra-conservatives with damaging effects on George Bush's candidacy. The treatment of Wilson and Weld, in addition to the triumph of anti-abortion forces on the party platform, does not bode well for Dole's efforts to reach out to moderate voters.

Colin Powell's decision to speak to the convention should help, in view of the retired general's enormous popularity, but Dole must deliver the address of his life in accepting the nomination in order to make the week a plus for the campaign. And he must find a way to pacify the GOP's feuding factions, at least long enough to preserve a facade of unity through the week.

Life on Mars

WE hate to be spoilsports, but the declaration that life exists - actually, once existed - on Mars is anything but rock solid. True, it is based on study of a Martian meteorite that fell to Earth 13,000 years ago. But the finding of organic material and other evidence that has been interpreted as indicating the existence of primitive life on the planet is said to be inconclusive. It may be years before definite conclusions are reached.

Drinking water bill

AFTER a year of heated confrontations with environmentalists, the Republican-controlled Congress has changed its tactics and produced a bill aimed at upgrading drinking water plants and streamlining federal water regulations.

Passage of this bill is welcome evidence that congressional Republicans have rethought their hostile stance on environmental regulation and are taking a more reasoned approach.

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