'New' Al Gore is same old bore

Posted: Nov 22, 2002 12:00 AM
Al Gore wants credit for not committing political suicide by trying to tear down the American political system. "I could have handled the whole thing differently, and instead of making a concession speech, launched a four-year rear guard guerrilla campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. … And there was no shortage of advice to do that." Gore told The Washington Post magazine during his "New Al Gore Tour." Now, don't get me wrong. Gore gave a nice concession speech after the 2000 election recount, no question. But the notion that this was a hard decision for him, especially in retrospect, is a bit much, and the fact that many Democrats argued for a four-year "guerilla campaign" -if true -is outrageous. If Gore had endeavored to undermine the lawful president of the United States, he would have gone down in history as one of the great sore losers and, probably, worst villains in American political history. Just imagine what such a campaign would have meant for America -and Gore -after 9-11. In short, Gore did the right thing, but he had to do the right thing. Asking for credit for doing what is morally obligatory and tactically necessary is classic Gore, in the sense that he wants credit for being on all sides of an issue (much like his old boss, Bill Clinton). In an interview with National Public Radio, saying that "our country has suffered under (President Bush's) leadership," Gore lamented that "instead of using the national unity that was unprecedented after we were attacked for purposes like weaning us from our dependence on oil from the Middle East, which is a factor in all this -instead, (Bush) used it to beat the drums of war against Saddam Hussein, who's a bad guy and who should be removed from power, but who has no known connection to Osama bin Laden, that I'm aware of." So, Gore believes Saddam should be toppled -it was his administration and his party's congressional leadership, after all, that adopted "regime change" as the official policy of the U.S. government in 1998 -but he just doesn't consider this the right time. In other words, he wants credit for being on the right (or popular) side of the issue while still being able to criticize Bush -and placate anti-war liberals -for implementing the policy Gore favors. And as for this "weaning" America off Middle Eastern oil thing, it's not an entirely bad idea. But Gore doesn't mean drilling in Alaska, he means solar-powered cars and declaring war on the internal combustion engine. That'll deter Saddam from getting nuclear weapons. Similarly, last September Gore insinuated that "the timing of this sudden burst of urgency" for war during this "high political season" was planned by Bush to win at the polls. But, as usual, Gore didn't have the courage to leave his fingerprints on the accusation, meekly asserting, "I have not raised those doubts, but many have." What, exactly, would constitute a better moment to topple Saddam remains a mystery, but I think I've figured it out. Gore thinks Bush's timing is wrong because a properly timed action would be one that took place while Gore is president, hence anything done with Bush in the Oval Office has to be, by definition, poorly timed. Of course, Gore won't say that. Instead he contents himself by playing Clintonian games, as when Clinton said he would have voted with the majority on the Gulf War but agreed with the minority. Gore manages to make it sound like thinks he's so much smarter than everyone else for taking such monstrously stupid positions. The New Al Gore (actually, by my count, this is Gore Version 14.0) claims to be a new and principled voice for the Democratic Party. He wants, and claims, to be the liberal standard-bearer against George W. Bush in the wake of Republican electoral victories this month. But the sad truth is that he is the same old Gore, unwilling to commit to an idea without giving himself room to let go of it. He now supports single-payer health care, a proposal he savaged Bill Bradley for endorsing in 2000 and a proposal he would savage George Bush for implementing. Why? Because nothing George Bush does while president can be right, even if Al Gore agrees with it.