MINNEAPOLIS -- Al Gore returned to the political stage last week
just as he left it 17 months ago -- as a man who just can't make peace with
the concepts of truthfulness and honesty, and has never been able to lasso
his wild imagination.
Speaking in San Francisco, Al launched a blistering attack on
President George W. Bush's policy toward Iraq and our military's effort in
the war on terrorism. Al's diatribe, in which he accused the president of
having "squandered the international outpouring of sympathy, goodwill and
solidarity" since Sept. 11, was as wrong as it was mean-spirited. In Gore's
typical haughty style, his pronouncement was delivered from on high and
lacked evidence to support his outrageous claims.
Gore ignored the hundreds of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, those
who were recently apprehended in Buffalo and Singapore, the destruction of
the Taliban in Afghanistan and the fact that 19 hijacker terrorists died on
Sept. 11, and began by criticizing President Bush for not focusing on "those
who attacked us on Sept. 11." Several times throughout his speech, Gore
tried to trivialize the military's efforts by referring to the war on
terrorism as the "war against Osama bin Laden" and said Iraq -- a state
sponsor of terrorism -- has nothing to do with the war on terrorism.
But Gore's old buddy, British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
disagrees. Last week, Blair released a 50-page dossier detailing Saddam
Hussein's post-1992 rearmament with weapons of mass destruction. And as for
Al's assertion that Bush has "squandered" American support, he should look
again at the leaders in Italy, Spain, Australia and the Czech Republic, who
have courageously embraced the fight against terrorism. In Pakistan, Turkey,
Egypt and other Muslim countries, Al Qaeda operatives are being detained by
the U.S. military and local authorities.
So just what is Al talking about? Is he referring to German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose leftist Social Democrat party won a
tight re-election by trashing the United States, most memorably when one of
Schroeder's Cabinet ministers compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler and
was summarily dismissed the day after the election?
Beyond Germany, it's difficult to identify any country where
anti-Americanism is on the upswing. To be sure, the United States has
enemies and, ironically, they appear to be in countries that Gore is most
concerned about insulating from accountability. In his San Francisco speech,
Gore also denounced the Bush administration's new strategic doctrine of
"pre-emption," which holds that the United States has the right to act
against aggressor states and terrorists before they have an opportunity to
attack us. For Gore, this strategic doctrine has ominous implications. "The
very logic of the concept suggests a string of military engagements against
a succession of sovereign states," he worried.
Let me get this straight. Al Gore, who once reassured the
families of fallen U.S. military personnel that they could be proud their
husbands and sons "died in the service of the United Nations," now supports
But Gore's attack, which was meant to position him as the leader
of the Democrat pack, was too much for even his fellow Democrats. In the
wake of his speech, Gore's protege, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut
reiterated his support for President Bush's stand against Iraq. Embattled
Democrat Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey dismissed Gore's speech as
"not relevant," adding, "I don't think it has any effect on Democrats'
thinking at all." Even Tom Daschle, when he wasn't throwing a tantrum on the
Senate floor, resisted joining Gore's appeasement caucus.
And while Gore was trying to make liberalism relevant in America
by taking shots at the Bush administration, liberal British Prime Minister
Tony Blair has been demonstrating real statesmanship.
"It is an 11-year history," Blair explained, "of lies told by
Saddam about the existence of his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons
programs, obstruction, defiance and denial. We know, again from our history,
that diplomacy, not backed by threat of force, has never worked with
dictators and never will." Although Blair remains a committed liberal, he
isn't naive about world affairs. Contrast that with Gore's equivocation on
Iain Duncan Smith, the leader of Britain's Conservative Party,
echoed Blair's sentiments, observing: "History is littered with the desire
of decent people to give the likes of Saddam Hussein a second chance. He has
had 10 years of second chances. Now surely is the time to act." Both Blair
and Duncan Smith have emerged as critical allies in America's war on
terrorism. They have not forgotten Winston Churchill's parting counsel, on
the day of his 1955 resignation, when he implored his countrymen to never be
separated from the Americans.
A few years before Churchill's prophetic words, a powerful work
titled "The God That Failed" collected the accounts of several prominent
intellectuals, including Arthur Koestler and Richard Wright, who had once
been communists, before becoming disillusioned with communism and rejecting
it in favor of freedom. The book was edited by a liberal parliamentary
member named Richard Crossman, who concluded that liberals had to oppose
communism with the same intensity and patriotism that conservatives like
Richard Crossman appears to have a worthy successor in Tony
Blair. As for Al Gore, the only place he's likely to be elected is Germany.