Al Gore's Political Suicide: The self-destruction of the erstwhile veep.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
BY WILLIAM J. BENNETT Saturday, September 28, 2002 12:01 a.m. EDT
Al Gore has finally concluded his long quest for the American presidency. His speech this week at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco was an act of political self-immolation. Ironically, Mr. Gore delivered his speech in an attempt to remain relevant in American politics, as the top Democratic contender for the presidency in 2004. Instead, he has made himself irrelevant by his inconsistency, by his separation from the mainstream of public opinion, and by creating dissension in the ranks of a party trying to muster unity in support of war on Iraq. Al Gore has shown he is not fit to lead.
Mr. Gore's speech was more critical of President Bush than our enemies, and, although he said he would "recommend a specific course of action" in his speech, he did no such thing. While saying that our proposed course of action "will seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism," Mr. Gore has ignored that we have already made great strides in a single year.
To review what Mr. Gore omitted: We've bombed a country "out of the stone age," to quote Christopher Hitchens, and we've liberated an entire people from a brutal and backward dictatorship. We've put the world's leading terrorist, who used to run a country, on the run himself (if we haven't killed him), along with his al Qaeda cells. We have not won this long war, but we are winning it, and to win it we must go after other terrorists and those who will do us and our allies harm. Saddam Hussein fits that bill; he terrorizes his own people and his neighbors--not to mention that he tried to assassinate a former U.S. president. Mr. Gore used to understand that.
In an abhorrent analogy, the former vice president morally equated the U.S. with the U.S.S.R. when he compared our pre-emption doctrine to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That comparison is inapt in the extreme. We are not swallowing land to immiserate people; we are liberating land to free people and protect our allies. If Mr. Gore wanted an example of pre-emption--if he was looking for an honest equivalence--it would be Israel bombing Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Today we are thankful that Israel acted pre-emptively when it did.
Mr. Gore delivered his speech just as Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt were trying to build a Democratic majority on Capitol Hill to support President Bush's resolution on Iraq. Messrs. Daschle and Gephardt were trying to prove that the McGovern wing of the Democratic Party was, in fact, a wing--and a small one at that. With his ironically craven attempt to appear courageous, Mr. Gore frustrated those efforts, creating an environment where leading Democrats will now have to answer as to whether they support the president's position on the war or Al Gore's. As a U.S. senator, Mr. Gore backed the resolution to go to war with Iraq in 1991, and he later chastised President George H. W. Bush for leaving Saddam Hussein in power. As vice president in 1998, Al Gore supported--and President Bill Clinton signed--the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for the removal of Hussein. As a candidate for president in 2000, Mr. Gore said, "We have made it clear that it is our policy to see Saddam Hussein gone." He then concluded his remarks on Iraq with this bold statement: "And if entrusted with the presidency, my resolve will never waver."
He certainly wavered Monday. Buried in his speech, Mr. Gore admitted, "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." So what does Mr. Gore mean? Since we cannot deter Hussein we should wait for him to detonate against us? That we need to wait for the butchers of Beijing and the Syrians serving on the UN Security Council to give us their blessing?
Let us get one thing straight, once and for all: Allies are good to have, but at the end of the day, it is Great Britain and the U.S. that matter. When oppressed people protest their dictators, they do not march with symbols of the Eiffel Tower and statements from Otto von Bismarck: they march with papier-mâché Statues of Liberty and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.
Mr. Gore's speech reminds us that it really does matter who is president--and that if he were president, the war against terrorism would be conducted in a radically different manner. Last September, Americans breathed a sigh of relief in reflecting on the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. Now we have reason to be grateful once again that Al Gore is not the man in the White House, and never will be.
Mr. Bennett is the author, most recently, of "Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism," available from the OpinionJournal bookstore.
-- Anonymous, September 28, 2002