Maer Roshan: During the primaries, George W. Bush refused to meet with gay Republican groups because he felt he didn't have anything in common with them. Now that we're in the general election, he's in bed with every gay donor in the party. Why should anyone trust him?
Ed Koch: They shouldn't.
Al D'Amato: Maybe he's seen the error of his ways.
E.K.: It's a bumbling attempt to display political courage.
M.R.: Wouldn't it have been more courageous if he had done this during the primaries, when it mattered?
A.D.: I think we can always hope for the finer things in people, but in politics that's asking a lot.
E.K.: The fact is, Bush has been really cautious. He didn't meet with the Log Cabin Republicans. He met just with supporters. And then he comes out with that cockamamie statement that he's a better person today because of the meeting . . . give me a break!
A.D.: Bush is coming to his senses. But it's true that many conservatives still miss the point about gay rights. It's invincible ignorance. Take gays in the military. In my opinion, it's a conservative proposition that people should be judged only on their ability. Conservatives are against quotas, and if you're against quotas, then how could you deny a person a job or promotion because they may be gay? I've never heard of anything so stupid in my life.
E.K.: Let me say this about Bush: He may be an intelligent man, but he comes across as a lightweight fly.
A.D.: That's Democratic propaganda, Ed!
E.K.: His answers are so shallow and so glib and passionless that . . . look, I have problems with Gore, particularly with his willingness to sacrifice his integrity on the Elián case for a few votes. But compared to Bush, Gore looks like a moral and intellectual giant!
A.D.: Remember that Al Gore has been preparing to run for president since he was a boy, Ed. Don't worry, we'll get our guy up to speed! Actually, the most significant thing in this race has been the rise of Ralph Nader! His decision to run with the Green Party will shake up the whole race. You know, there was this great panic when Buchanan deserted the Republicans, but I was happy. He is a reprehensible human being. Sure, he'll end up taking votes from Bush, maybe 3 percent. But now that Nader is in, it's Gore who has to watch his flank. He's going to torture the Democrats! Nader could be Bush's secret weapon.
M.R.: The long-postponed parley between Bush and John McCain is finally scheduled for next month . . .
A.D.: The sooner it happens the better. If he wants to win, Bush not only has to reach out to McCain, he has to actively embrace him! It's imperative.
M.R.: If Bush actively embraces McCain, he might even win back a few Log Cabin votes . . . laughter I wanted to get your opinion on the turmoil in D.C., where 1,000 people were arrested protesting the IMF and the World Bank. Why has this struck such a chord?
A.D.: The protesters are more right than wrong. They have no real leadership, so their positions are not articulated very well, but it's a real travesty: Every year, the World Bank antes up billions of dollars that never go to the poor. Instead, the dictators just siphon all the money off. It's the most mismanaged, corrupt loan program in history.
E.K.: You know, there is something hopeful and exciting about these protesters. You look at the people arrested, and they're mostly college-age kids who are taken by the idealism of this. In this age of materialism, that's not such a bad thing.
M.R.: Speaking of hopefulness, there is talk on Capitol Hill of pardoning Clinton to preclude an ugly trial when he steps down in January. Do you think that's a good idea?
A.D.: Absolutely, unequivocally yes. Whether it's Clinton or Nixon, the country doesn't deserve a wrenching experience when a president leaves office. Clinton has already been pardoned by the American people. A criminal trial will just tear this country apart.
M.R.: The president says he doesn't want a pardon.
A.D.: That's what he says. But what Clinton wants doesn't really matter. Everyone knows he didn't tell the truth.
E.K.: Well, Al, if that's the criterion, maybe we should arrange a pardon for Reagan too laughs.
Al D'Amato is a columnist at George. Ed Koch is a partner at Robinson Silverman.