Unlike our president, who spent Martin Luther King Day paying respectful tribute to MLK and Abraham Lincoln, Democratic Party notables, Hillary Clinton and Albert Gore, used the holiday as another opportunity to character-assassinate President George W. Bush.
Just when we were beginning to think Hillary Clinton had found her voice -- albeit a decidedly phony one -- as a mature, seasoned politician poised for a presidential run, she reverts to those cacophonic utterances that find little resonance beyond her embittered but indispensable base.
If one could momentarily suspend his powers of discernment, he could almost sympathize with a woman saddled with the dilemma of trying to sound reasonable without permanently alienating that cabal of reliably unreasonable malcontents. But alas, Hillary obviously has no real beef with her base on principle, and from time to time, it insists she demonstrate her loyalty by paying homage to its cynicism and hysteria.
During a speech at the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, the fair-skinned wife of the first black president wasted no time proving her bona fides by exhibiting her penchant for negative hyperbole in critiquing the president and Congress.
She said, "We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence. I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country."
And, never passing up a chance for political exploitation, Hillary offered up some racially charged red meat to the Hurricane Katrina evacuees in attendance. She apologized "on behalf of a government that left you behind, that turned its back on you" -- a government, I suppose, she denies being a part of when it suits her immediate interests.
But as regrettable as Hillary's remarks were, they were anemic compared to the rantings of that poster boy for instability Albert Gore, who, you may recall with horror, came within one state's electoral vote of being president.
Gore, remembered for declaring that "there is no controlling legal authority" when caught with his hands directly in the middle of a fundraising scandal, was quick to call for an independent investigation into "President Bush's spying program," about which there truly may be no clearly controlling authority.
Of course, Gore doesn't need to wait for an independent investigation. He has already concluded that "the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently." Despite the incontrovertible fact that Bush briefed congressmen on his surveillance program, Gore shamelessly said he "secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother."
Further displaying his unique gift for chutzpah, Gore yelled, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." He must be making exceptions for serial perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice and, yes, criminal violations of campaign finance laws. Indeed, this proud vice president under the president who made a sport of mocking the rule of law said, "It is imperative that respect for the law be restored."
Then, picking up on the Democrats' latest mantra demonizing President Bush as a megalomaniacal dictator, Gore characterized Bush's attempts to intercept Al Qaeda phone calls for the purpose of protecting America's security as a "constitutional power-grab by the president."
Continuing with this theme, Gore said, preposterously, "The president's judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power." I just have to wonder if Gore really thinks enough people are impressionable enough to believe that President Bush, who will leave office in three years, is appointing judges to augment his power rather than to restore integrity to the Constitution.
And, though separate bipartisan commissions concluded the Bush administration did not pressure the CIA or other intelligence agencies to exaggerate their reports of Iraqi WMD, Gore brazenly accused the administration of silencing dissent, censoring inconsistent information and demanding conformity from all executive-branch employees. He said, "CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases."
After accusing President Bush of virtual tyranny and depicting America as on the brink of ruin, Gore closed by protesting, "I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age … "
Old Albert could have fooled me. He sounds more like George Bernard Shaw's description of a pessimist -- one who "thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it."
Either way, I just hope Albert and Hillary continue to spread their contagious optimism between now and November 2008.
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