inists, queasy. Holt/man’s killer tactiesrnagainst Ferraro worked, but onlv to thernbenefit of Abrams. In the final tally,rnAbrams edged out Ferraro bv 1 percent,rnwhile Holtzman, incredibly, plummetedrnto 9 percent, 1 percent bcloy even AlrnSharpton. Holtzman’s tactics turnedrnout to be not only killer but kamikaze.rnFerraro, blind-sided and bitter, calledrnfor a recount and refused to endorsernAbrams, who had gone negative followingrnthe lead of Holtzman. Fcrraro’s replyrnto the “Mafia card” was the standard victimologyrnploy: Holtzman and Abramsrnwere being viciously, stereotvpicalh’,rnanti-Italian, demagogically playing to thernprejudices of voters systematically poisonedrnby the anti-Italian media. SincernAbrams and Holtzman are both Jewish,rnethno-religious bitterness, always smolderingrnbeneath the surface of New Yorkrnpolitics, began to come to the fore.rnThe two rivals in the general electionrnlooked remarkably alike. Both Abramsrnand D’Amato are short, fiftyish, bespectacled,rnethnic, and balding. There,rnhowever, the resemblance ends. D’Amatornis brash, abrasive, emotional, with arnpronounced nasal “Noo Yawk” accent.rnAbrams has a similar accent, but he isrnwhiny, nerdy, terribly sincere, and terminallyrnboring. Even his best friendsrnand supporters admit that Abrams isrnboring, but they try to turn it to Abrams’rnfavor by equating boredom with rectitude.rnAbrams was Mr. Rectitude, honorable,rnno ethical peccadilloes in hisrncloset. He also had won elections byrnlandslides, but this meant little, since itrnwas only for the low-key post of StaternAttorney General.rnThe story was that D’Amato fearedrnrunning against Abrams because of thernlatter’s clean moral record, but the Senatorrnbrilliantly turned the new situationrnto his advantage. With the primaryrnover, Abrams made his first fatal mistake:rnretiring for a well-earned rest andrnsaving his TV money for later in therncampaign. D’Amato and his handlers,rnhowever, rushed in immediately with arnbrace of brilliantly executed short ads,rnon TV and radio. The tactic was attack,rnattack, go after Abrams, and drag himrnoff his high moral perch. Hit Abramsrnwith moral equivalence, bring him downrnto D’Amato’s level, and Senator Pothole’srnpositive virtues would come shiningrnthrough.rnFirst, D’Amato played the “anti-Italian”rncard. This great lady, Geraldine Ferraro,rnhad been traduced by Abrams’rnvicious anti-Italian demagogy. Fcrraro’srncontinued refusal to endorse Abrams reinforcedrnthis tactic, although she dulyrnbut mildly protested at D’/mato’s use ofrnher name. Finally, at the very end ofrnthe campaign, after lengthy negotiationsrnbetween the Abrams and Ferraro camps,rnshe came out for Abrams, but her endorsementrnwas remarkably unenthusiastiernand restrained. As one observer noted:rn”She looked like one of those clips ofrnhostages praising Saddam Hussein.”rnSecond, the moral equivalencerntheme. Bob Abrams was not Mr. Rectitudernafter all. D’Amato revealed thatrnAbrams was many times late in payingrnschool taxes on his country home andrnthat he unwiselv deducted a room in hisrnNew York City apartment from his incomerntax. Moreover, he denouncedrnAbrams for conflict of interest, for acceptingrnpolitical contributions fromrnlawyers and others doing business withrnthe Attorney General’s office. It was arnbrilliant tactic. This practice is acceptedrnby politicians everywhere but it looks unethicalrnand indeed probably is, and theserncharges made hay with the average ‘oter.rnThe moral equivalence worked beautifully:rn”Hey, is what Mr. Holier-Than-rnThou Abrams did any better than allowingrnmy own brother to use myrnphones?”rnBob Abrams never recovered fromrnD’Amato’s attacks. A humorless believerrnin his own morality and righteousness,rnAbrams was knocked off-kilter; his repeatedrnattacks against “Senator Shakedown”rnwere ineffective, since the publicrnalready knew about those old charges.rnFurthermore, bolstered on the personalrnethics front, D’Amato was able to turnrntheir ideological differences to his advantage.rnWhen Abrams tried to stressrnhis support for national health insurance,rnD’Amato attacked brilliantly. Hernpointed out that this and other liberalrnprograms mean higher taxes, contrastedrnthese taxes with Abrams’ own nonpayments,rnand hammered away: “BobrnAbrams never met a tax he didn’t like—rnexcept his own. Bob Abrams, hopelesslyrnliberal.”rnBy mid-October, D’Amato hadrnmiraculously pulled himself up from arn15-point deficit in the polls. But he hadrnbogged down at 4 to 5 points behind,rnwhen Bob Abrams made the second fatalrnmistake of his campaign. Goadedrnby D’Amato’s attacks and by youngrnD’Amato hecklers at his rallies, Abrams,rnone late cold night at an obscure rallyrnin Binghamton, denounced D’Amatornas a “fascist.” Well! The remark wasrnpicked up by only one media outlet: thernBmghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin. Butrnthat was enough for D’Amato. “Fhe nextrnday happened to be the Golumbus Dayrnparade, the annual New York Gity celebrationrnof Italian-Americana. At thatrnrally, Al D’Amato played his role to thernhilt. Grying, his hp quivering in thisrnwell-televised spot, D’Amato croaked:rn”Fascist! . . . I’m a grandfather. . . and arnfather. . . . ” Al couldn’t go on.rnWhat could Abrams have meant byrnthis dread term, other than a viciousrnsmear against Italian-Americans, accusingrnthem of being unpatriotic traitors torntheir countr, followers of Mussolini?rnThe ultimate insult, what Abrams wasrnbeing accused of hurling, not onlyrnagainst D’Amato but against all Italian-rnAmericans. Imnrediately, new D’AmatornTV ads hammered away at the point,rnshowing pictures of Mussolini andrndenouncing this gross ethnic insult.rnPressed for a retraction, Abrams compoundedrnmatters bv refusing to apologizernto D’Amato himself, confining hisrnregrets to anv D’Amato followers hernmight hac offended.rnThat was enough. In a final surge,rnD’Amato caught Abrams and won thernelection by two percentage points, defyingrnall the odds and the Clinton landslide.rnWhy indeed did Abrams use thisrnclearly inappropriate term? It had littlernto do with Mussolini. There is a certainrntype of New York leftist over forty tornwhom everyone he doesn’t like, everyonernto the right of, say. Bob Abrams, is arn”fascist.” Mussolini was of course a fascist.rnBut so was everyone else. Hitlerrnwas a “fascist.” Franco was a “fascist.”rnJoe MeCarthv was a “fascist.” RichardrnNixon was a “fascist.” Indeed, almostrnevery Republican is a “fascist.” It wasrnthat repellent mindset that burst itsrnbonds that cold night in Binghamtonrnand led to Abrams’ fatal slip. Wouldrnthat everyone v’ho eer uses this portmanteaurnsmcar-tcrm meet a similar fate.rnIn this instance, at least, justice triumphed,rnwith Senator Al D’Amato herrnimprobable instrument.rnMurray N. Rothbard is a professorrnof economics at the Universityrnof Nevada, Las Vegas, andrnvice-president for academicrnaffairs at the Ludwig von MisesrnInstitute.rn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn