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May 30, 2004: Back from the dead ... (Gore Speaks)

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Back from the dead? 

That would be Al Gore, who gave a speech this week that got some press. 

Here’s the start of the Associated Press item:

Gore: Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet Should Resign
Sara Kugler, Wednesday, May 26, 2004


NEW YORK - Al Gore delivered a blistering denunciation Wednesday of the Bush administration's "twisted values and atrocious policies" in Iraq and demanded the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and CIA director George Tenet. 

Raising his voice to a yell in a speech at New York University, Gore said: "How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace!  How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison!"

The Democratic former vice president said the situation in Iraq is spinning out of control. 


"I am calling today for Republicans as well as Democrats to join me in asking for the immediate resignations of those immediately below George Bush and Dick Cheney, who are most responsible for creating the catastrophe we are facing in Iraq," Gore said, drawing strong applause from the partisan crowd. 


And it goes on in some detail. 

Here’s the official reaction from the Republican National Committee:

RNC Communications Director Statement on Al Gore’s Comments Today at MoveOn.org Rally
Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Al Gore served as Vice President of this country for eight years.  During that time, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole. 

Al Gore’s attacks on the President today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia.


Maybe so. 

Ah well.  We didn’t want him as president.  He didn’t get elected. 

Anyway, Gore called for lots of resignations.  He summed up the last year or two.  The right, Fox News and such, spent the ensuing news cycle ripping this all to shreds of course. 

Here’s the speech in full:

Remarks by Al Gore
May 26, 2004 As Prepared

Excerpts?  A strong opening:


George W.  Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility.  Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world. 

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon. 

Honor?  He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention.  Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind."

He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq.  And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins. 

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib. 


Yeah, well, there is a lot the follows to answer that question. 



The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th. 

There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with.  But instead of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse.  We are less safe because of his policies.  He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him. 

He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S.  town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us.  And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries.  And by pursuing policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name. 


Well, that’s pretty direct. 

Well, the counterargument is that, in a dangerous world, you need to show just who is the top dog.  It’s a matter of tone. 

Al doesn’t like George’s tone:


President Bush set the tone for our attitude for suspects in his State of the Union address.  He noted that more than 3,000 "suspected terrorists" had been arrested in many countries and then he added, "and many others have met a different fate.  Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States and our allies."

George Bush promised to change the tone in Washington.  And indeed he did.  As many as 37 prisoners may have been murdered while in captivity, though the numbers are difficult to rely upon because in many cases involving violent death, there were no autopsies. 

How dare they blame their misdeeds on enlisted personnel from a Reserve unit in upstate New York.  President Bush owes more than one apology.  On the list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently culpable, but who were clearly put into a moral cesspool.  The perpetrators as well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by the policies of George W.  Bush. 

How dare the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney Administration humiliate our nation and our people in the eyes of the world and in the conscience of our own people.  How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace.  How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison. 


How dare they?  Otherwise we’d seem weak?  Something like that…. 

Gore goes on about a need to be dominant – as if that’s the major character flaw in the president, and in those who lead and control him.  It's as if we are told safety and security comes from humiliating and dominating others.  Gore doesn’t like the concept:


The same dark spirit of domination has led them to - for the first time in American history - imprison American citizens with no charges, no right to see a lawyer, no right to notify their family, no right to know of what they are accused, and no right to gain access to any court to present an appeal of any sort.  The Bush Administration has even acquired the power to compel librarians to tell them what any American is reading, and to compel them to keep silent about the request - or else the librarians themselves can also be imprisoned. 

They have launched an unprecedented assault on civil liberties, on the right of the courts to review their actions, on the right of the Congress to have information to how they are spending the public's money and the right of the news media to have information about the policies they are pursuing. 

The same pattern characterizes virtually all of their policies.  They resent any constraint as an insult to their will to dominate and exercise power.  Their appetite for power is astonishing.  It has led them to introduce a new level of viciousness in partisan politics.  It is that viciousness that led them to attack as unpatriotic, Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in combat during the Vietnam War. 

The president episodically poses as a healer and "uniter".  If he president really has any desire to play that role, then I call upon him to condemn Rush Limbaugh - perhaps his strongest political supporter - who said that the torture in Abu Ghraib was a "brilliant maneuver" and that the photos were "good old American pornography," and that the actions portrayed were simply those of "people having a good time and needing to blow off steam."


Rush Limbaugh? 

I do believe Limbaugh taps into half of the country that understands winning anything requires stripping your adversary of his will to fight – breaking his spirit and humiliating him.  Thus taunts in the football field and basketball court are effective.  The events of September almost three years ago made Bush a hero – he was going to kick some ass and show who was the alpha male in this international world.  And folks didn’t much care whose ass got kicked.  That wasn’t the point really.  Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Anyone would do.  The point was, well, making a point.  Lots of folks felt this way, and still do.  Other nations, other people, other religions had to be sent a message of dominance.  The alternative was…? 

By the way, Rush Limbaugh, on air today, responds to Gore here - and it is quite long. 

The gist of it is this from Limbaugh:


He has succeeded in giving our adversaries in Europe and our enemies in the caves of Afghanistan and the allies of Iraq a message that they'll take to heart, and that is that we are not a united nation, that we do not have the will to win this war, and that we are weak and indecisive.  That's the message that Gore sends today, and it's the wrong message, because it's a lie, and beyond that it is an outrage. 

I don't think anything of this kind has ever been done by a former vice president during a war, but our adversaries and our enemies would be badly mistaken if they actually believe that Gore speaks for this nation, because he doesn't. 

I speak for more of this nation than Al Gore does, and I will say it on this program.


Okay, choose sides. 

Ah well, over at the New York Post John Podhoretz is more more succinct:


It is now clear that Al Gore is insane.  I don't mean that his policy ideas are insane, though many of them are.  I mean that based on his behavior, conduct, mien and tone over the past two days, there is every reason to believe that Albert Gore Jr., desperately needs help.  I think he needs medication, and I think that if he is already on medication, his doctors need to adjust it or change it entirely."


And then there is James Taranto writing is the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web Today (Thursday, May 27, 2004 2:25 p.m. EDT)

Taranto is the deeper psychologist, or claims to be:


We've got a better theory: Gore, in our view, has cracked under a crushing burden of guilt. 

To explain why, it helps to remember that a desperate anger pervades Gore's entire party at the moment.  That's not surprising.  For the first time in half a century, the Democrats are out of the White House and have a majority in neither house of Congress.  A decisive GOP victory in November would leave the Dems a minority party for a very long time. 

Oh, they put on a brave face, noting excitedly every Bush swoon in the polls.  They say the president is manifestly incompetent and John Kerry will beat him easily.  Maybe they'll even turn out to be right.  Who knows?  Certainly some Republicans are spooked about Bush's re-election prospects.  But the shrillness and hysteria of the Democrats' rhetoric tells us they are far from confident. 

Still, the immoderation of Gore's words, combined with the fury of his tone, puts him in a class by himself, or very nearly so, even among angry Dems.  And while political candidates routinely engage in hyperbole in order to stir up the party faithful, Gore isn't running for anything.  Dick Gephardt stopped ranting about Bush's being a "miserable failure" when he left the presidential race.  Gore has nothing to gain by sacrificing his dignity in this way. 

How did the Dems come to such a pass?  In large part, it's Gore's fault.  The Democrats held the White House in 2000, at a time of apparent peace and prosperity.  They should have won the election that year, and they surely would have had they only had a decent candidate.  But instead they had Al Gore.  Even he came close enough to winning that he was tempted to try to steal the election. 

… it was Al Gore, more than anyone else, who assured the election of George W.  Bush as president.  And if Gore actually believes all the paranoid nonsense he utters about "global warming," "an unprecedented assault on civil liberties," the "American gulag," the "catastrophe" in Iraq and so on, he let down not only his party but his country and the world, which will soon be destroyed thanks to Bush's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty. 

That's more guilt than anyone should be forced to endure. 


Well, it’s theory. 

Since Podhoretz, Taranto and Rush Limbaugh really do speak for half the nation, the half that simply trusts the president and KNOWS we are doing right, because that’s, well, what we do - of course that half will say Gore is full of irrational hate, hate that has no basis in fact, and that Bush is doing just fine. 

Come the middle of the second week in November (unless we need to go to court again) 49.9% percent of the nation is going to be quite unhappy. 

No one knows which half that will be – the trusting optimists with the positive attitude, or the angry folks who feel there are any number of things going badly wrong and want them fixed. 

John Kerry has a television ad running now that ends with him saying we are a nation of optimists.  Oh no!


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
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