The post-convention Gore campaign lacks strategic focus. The Republicans are defining the terrain of debate, and Al Gore is missing golden opportunities to exploit weaknesses in his opponent that never would have escaped Bill Clinton, James Carville, Paul Begala, et al.
A glaring recent example is the lack of an aggressive response on the question of whether Gore should commit himself now to pardon, or not pardon, President Clinton in the event that he faces a Monica Lewinsky-related criminal conviction after leaving office. A less-inept Gore campaign would be making the Bush people rue the day they ever brought up the subject of presidential pardons.
On Dec. 24, 1992, 12 days before former Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger was to go to trial, a lame-duck President Bush pardoned him and five other Iran-Contra defendants: former National Security Advisor Robert C. McFarlane, former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and former CIA officials Alan D. Fiers Jr., Clair E. George and Duane R. Clarridge.
Why are Gore surrogates not demanding comment from the Bush campaign on the legitimacy of the elder Bush's move? Why are they not pointing to the vast gulf between the serious crimes at stake in Iran-Contra and whether Clinton's Monica lies involved criminal as well as civil contempt of court? For that matter, why aren't they mentioning President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal? This is a political no-brainer. The Gore campaign has dropped the ball.