Gore flirted again with the Hitler theme last week in a speech at Georgetown University's Law Center. There, he accused President Bush of "intentionally misleading" and telling "outright falsehoods" (why isn't he as candid as Cheney?). Gore compared the president to Richard Nixon, King George III, Julius Caesar and Enron's Ken Lay and then followed with this whiff of Deutschland Uber Alles: "The administration works closely with a network of rapid responders, a group of digital brown shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors." Sieg Heil! And when Gore and Clinton did the same thing in 1992, it was called "The War Room." A movie was made about it, and its "stars," James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, now have their own TV shows.
While I do not endorse the use of crude language in public places (such as the Washington Post, which printed Cheney's remark unedited), we would all be better served if we knew what politicians really think. Who believes that "my good friend" baloney congresspersons always say to each other? Criticism doesn't have to be crude or a barnyard epithet. It can be creative, such as this remark by Harold Ickes Sr. about Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "MacArthur is the type of man who thinks that when he gets to heaven, God will step down from the great white throne and bow him into His vacated seat." The irascible columnist H.L. Mencken once said of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he surely needs, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House backyard come Wednesday."
John Adams called Thomas Jefferson "a slur upon the moral government of the world" and Gen. George McClellan said Abraham Lincoln was "nothing more than a well-meaning baboon."
A little more candor in politics could have an additional benefit. It might improve voter turnout because more people would believe politicians are expressing their true feelings and not saying things generated by pollsters and focus groups.