I know there are many of you who disagree with our founding fathers that when it comes to electing the president, character is vitally important.
Is it because you've allowed yourselves to become so cynical that you believe all politicians are equally corrupt? Or could it be that you think character matters somewhat, but not nearly as much as the candidate's policy proposals?
Assuming your preferred candidate is truly committed to his ideology, I want to suggest to you that certain men will sacrifice their principles remorselessly to promote their self-interests. In the process, lives can be greatly affected and, in some cases, lost.
You may discount much of the abundant evidence pointing toward Al Gore's integrity deficiencies, such as his politically expedient reversals on many issues of importance, including abortion, gun control and tobacco -- and his denials of those flip-flops. Or you may think Bill Bradley's depiction of him as a person who would say anything to get elected can be written off to the excesses of a spirited primary campaign. Gore's embellishments, exaggerations and fantasies may not bother you, either. Let me alert you, then, to two incidents that ought to shake you to your core.
Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson was so disturbed by Gore's campaign ad distorting his Gulf War vote that he wrote an article to correct the record. Incidentally, if you are unfamiliar with Senator Simpson, he is universally considered to be a plainspoken person. Even those who disagree with him know he tells the truth, which means you can rely on his version of this event.
Simpson said that the congressional vote to approve then President Bush's decision to send half a million American soldiers to fight against Iraq's Saddam Hussein was of sobering importance. Experts were predicting heavy American casualties. "I can't think of anyone who didn't have a lump in his or her throat as they weighed the situation." The night before the debate, said Simpson, Al Gore stepped in to the Republican cloakroom where Simpson and Senator Dole were discussing the upcoming Gulf War vote. Gore got right to the point. He offered to sell his vote -- to support President Bush -- if the Republicans could guarantee him a prime time speaking slot that would ensure him plenty of coverage in the news cycle. Simpson said that while in his ad Gore says he "broke with his own party to support the Gulf War," it's much closer to the truth to say he broke for the cameras to support the Gulf War. While Gore insists that he is "fighting for us," said Simpson, his Gulf War vote shows he is "usually fighting for Al."
There's another story just as chilling. This one is from a Democrat: Chief Investigative Counsel for the Clinton Impeachment, David Schippers. Even if you are tired of the impeachment saga, you owe it to yourself to buy Schipper's book, "Sell Out," for Chapter 4 alone.
In it, Schippers tells another revealing story about the person many of you intend to vote for in the presidential election. He relates the inside story of how Al Gore and his top aides pressured the Immigration and Naturalization Service to shortcut and ignore its procedures and hurriedly naturalize one million immigrants before the 1996 presidential election because they were likely Democratic voters. Many of these quickly naturalized citizens had criminal records that were ignored by INS officials -- "on orders from above." It was not a casual oversight. According to the FBI, said Schippers, many of these same criminals committed crimes in the United States after becoming citizens. In Schippers inimitable words, "thousands of criminals are now citizens of the United States because it was assumed they would vote for Bill Clinton and Al Gore."
Do these stories trouble you at all? Al Gore's dominant campaign theme is that he is fighting for the little person against the interests of the powerful. For those of you who receive such promises with approval, are you going to take his word for it? Which little people was he fighting for in the Gulf War? In the INS scandal? At the Buddhist temple? By opposing school choice for inner-city children?
Do you want to entrust the presidency to someone like this for another eight years?