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POTOMAC OBSERVER The Conpress of Business/ The Business of Congress Washington, D.C. You gotta hand it to the business types. They’ve been getting all they want from Bill Clinton and the national Democrats. A big story in the Washington Post recently listed the major business wins in the 103rd Congress: passing interstate banking and NAFTA legislation while killing health care reform, campaign finance reform, the BTU energy consumption tax, the prohibition of replacement workers, and the economic stimulus package. But guess what? They still don’t like either Bill or the Congressional Democrats. They want representatives who don’t just do what they’re told, but who do it without being told. Kind of like Everyteen’s fantasy sexual partner. So the business types, on the whole, are supporting Republicans. Business donations to Democrats are way down from where they were in 1992. The nasty Clinton jokes continue to be repeated in country clubs and at Lions, Moose, Elks, Rotary and Junior Achievement functions everywhere. If businessmen were as hard-eyed realists as they like to claim, they would be supporting Democratic incumbents and the President with not just money but volunteers, all produced with enthusiasm. But the businessmen seem to want, not palatable results, but absolute control. But the need for absolute control is a pathological psychic state, not a precondition of success. Maybe business’s Clinton problem is what Leonard Cohen’ s song “Sisters of Mercy” diagnosed as having to “leave everything that you cannot control.” Judges wholly complaisant to business arguments were almost invariably appointed by Reagan and Bush, and sometimes Carter, who between them appointed a vast majority of the federal judiciary. Clinton has sent up the most diverse set of judges of any of his predecessorsmore women, more blacks, more Hispanics, than even Carter managed, or than Reagan/Bush ever dreamed of. Yet his two Supreme Court appointments, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are only considered “economic liberals” by the terminally squint-minded. On business issues, each has a history more in tune with the Fortune 500 than with your friendly local wage-earner, possibly even including yourself and certainly including me. James McCarty Yeager edits Minority Business Report in Bethesda, Maryland. So where it counts immediately, on the Supreme Court, Bill has done what the businessmen would like him to have done: “Please, no ‘flame-throwing’ civil libertarians or ‘wild-eyed’ economic justice crusaders.” But that’s not enough for the business types, apparently. They want some guarantees that none of the newest federal Circuit Court or Court of Appeals judges are dangerously in favor of the people or, even more recklessly, not automatically disposed to treat corporations as the highest form of American life. And there are no such guarantees as to the Clinton appointments to the lower courts, since they are so diverse and, well, so Democratic. Of course, most of Clinton’s judges will turn -out to be middle-of-the-road supporters of the status quo. After all, they’re all lawyers. “Radical lawyer,” these days, is about as much a contradiction in terms as “Kay Bailey’s compassion,” “Phil Gramm’ s conscience,” or “Jeb Bush’s intelligence.” A recent Associated Press headline was “White Men Vote Republican.” The story noted that Shrub Bush held a 30-percent lead over Ann Richards among white males, though she has substantial strength among GOP women. And it is here that the small business, corporate and country club ethic stands revealed. These guys are so insecure they can’t imagine anyone who wasn’t in their fraternity being able to lead. Partially this is a long-term trend. Lyndon B. Johnson, for all his personal pathology, led the party and the nation on civil rights. Half the South, starting with the suburbs, promptly secededfirst to George Wallace, then to the Republicans. Lyndon simultaneously tried to buy off the Republicans and conservatives by holding an anticommunist war for them. They grudgingly supported it, but not him. In a certain way, every Democratic minority candidatewhether woman, Latino or blackby her or his very presence reminds the business types that the Democratic party’s mandate is not always ruled by the corporate ledger. And this is a scary thought to those who frequently explain stock market declines with the astonishing, though frequently repeated, observation that “the market was hurt today by uncertainty about the future.” I was taught that the only certainties everyone must endure are death, taxes and the counsel of the bore. I suppose that’s why I’m merely an inadvertent businessman: The only things in the future I’m not uncertain about are things I’m in no hurry to confront. The short-sightedness of U.S. business cannot be overestimated. Liberal Democratic policies, if we were abler than at present to find very many politicians to espouse them, would result in a more economically equitable, therefore more stable, society; and lower military, thus less wasteful, public spending. These are both preconditions to sustained and sustainable economic growth, from which businessmen would profit; for the essence of a militaryspending-driven economy as perfected under Reagan and Bush is that economic growth is neither constant nor continuous. Yet liberal Democrats are called “wasteful” despite the fact that they would remedy flagrant and persistent public ills. Our nation is busily abandoning 25 percent of our families without health insurance, the average wage has been falling for more than a decade, and the only remaining component of the Soviet military threat is the opposing apparatus we continue to maintain. And nothing the Republicans have suggested will do anything about any of that except make it worse. It is ironic that Democrats are judged on their rhetoric, which is far more egalitarian and reformist than their practices; while the Republicans are judged on their behavior, which is much more punitive than their ideology. Some observers have noted that the imminent collapse of the conservative wing of the Democratic party is a natural consequence of the two-party system in the South, and the resultant dedication of Republicans to racially divisive policies need surprise no one. If the polls are to be believed, even with the rebounding Democratic prospects, we are about to enter the Gridlock-Squared Congress, the 104th, in which conservative Southern Democrats join with Republicans in blocking not only any legislation not approved by the Fortune 500 but, no doubt, judicial and executive appointments. We will hear a lot less about the President’s prerogative to appoint whom he likes than we did under Reagan and Bush. Still, even if the most wretchedly conservative Democratic Congressperson is likely to vote only one extra time in favor of the President’s policies, he or she is a better deal than even the most moderate of Republicansif there were any, the howls of the Religious Reicht to the contrary notwithstanding. The unsavory alliance among business, conservatives and the suburban and trailerpark televangelized masses may yet fall apart of its own weight. But its further solidification can be delayed, and possibly even prevented, by a few well-placed votes. JAMES MCCARTY YEAGER THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13