America’s Narrow Escape
Inside Al's Mind.


John Derbyshire

 “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life, by God!”
— The Duke of Wellington, speaking of the battle of Waterloo

It is now clear that America has had a very narrow escape. The victory of George W. Bush in this recent election can today, I think, be taken as final. The Democratic party have yet to select from among themselves the orderlies who will be delegated to drag Al Gore struggling and howling from the public stage, but that is a formality. It’s over, and we have had a mighty close shave. We have escaped, very narrowly, having Al Gore at the head of our executive branch. And that is a very fortunate thing for this country, because Al Gore is a man with a serious problem.

The problem is located deeper in the vice president’s psyche than I care to look, but its chief external symptom is chronic and repetitive lying. I cannot claim any originality for this observation, of course. Gore’s lies have been chronicled in detail over several months by my colleague John J. Miller in National Review, and widely discussed in the public sphere. I have read all that stuff, and heard it spoken of, and nodded, and said: “Yeah, the guy’s a liar. Hung around the Clintons too much.” The size of Al Gore’s problem with the truth didn’t come home to me until 8:55 Monday evening, though, when I sat down to watch him give his “We must stand and fight!” speech. It was mesmerizing, and not a little scary, to watch the lies go by one after another, like telegraph poles seen from a train window.

”That is all we have asked since Election Day: a complete count of all the votes cast in Florida.” Lie. They asked for a “complete count” of the votes in only three counties, the most heavily Democratic counties they could find. True, Gore suggested a Florida-wide manual count at one — just precisely one — point, a point well past Election Day, this past three weeks, when he thought his situation was desperate. Even that was done without much conviction, though; and he wasn’t asking for a statewide manual count, he was just saying he would agree if the Bush people asked for one.

”Lawsuit after lawsuit has been filed to delay the count and to stop the counting.” Lie. No such lawsuits have been filed. None of the manual recounts requested by the Gore people has been delayed for one nanosecond by any lawsuit that I am aware of.

”This would have been over long since except for those efforts to block the process at every turn.” Lie. Once those manual recounts were requested, by the Gore camp, the process was bound to be drawn out until they were complete. Nothing the Bush people have done has prolonged that process, or blocked it. Why should we wish to prolong it? We won. Three times. “This would have been over long since” … except for team Gore’s determination to keep counting until they found, or manufactured, enough votes to wipe out Bush’s lead.

”Many thousands of votes that were cast on Election Day have not yet been counted at all, not once.” Lie. The only Florida votes not yet counted are those absentee ballots from the military that Gore’s teams of lawyers were at such pains to exclude from the counting process. There are not “many thousands” of them, only a few hundred. All other votes have been counted by machine at least twice.

”In one county election officials brought the count to a premature end in the face of organized intimidation.” Lie. This one is being put about with wild abandon by the Gore-ites; I heard Ed Koch retailing it on the radio this evening. It is a lie, a lie, a lie. David Leahy, the decision-maker on the Miami-Dade County canvassing board, has said on the record: “I was not intimidated.” And in fact, if it were true, the canvassing board itself would have been at fault for not requesting law-enforcement protection while they went on with their count.

”This is America. When votes have been cast, we count them. We don’t arbitrarily set them aside because it’s too difficult to count them.” Lie. Votes are very often not counted in America. Vote counting is done by some very small places on very small budgets. If the result of their count will make no difference, a canvassing board will often just not count. And votes that are too difficult for machines to count are routinely set aside all over America.

Note that Al Gore’s second sentence in that last lie actually makes no grammatical sense. “…[A]rbitrarily…because it’s too difficult to count them.” The setting aside would be arbitrary only if there were no reason for it. The fact of them being too difficult to count is a reason. You may not think it a good reason, and you may be right; but the fact of there being a reason means that the setting aside was not “arbitrary”.

Quite a lot of what Gore said was grammatical gibberish — a sure sign that one is dealing with a disturbed mind. Try this: “Whoever wins, the victor will know that the American people have spoken in a voice mighty by the whole of its integrity.” Since “integrity” means “wholeness”, that last phrase is equivalent to “the whole of its wholeness”. Even if we grant that a voice can possess “wholeness” — what would part of a voice sound like, I wonder? — what is signified by the whole of its wholeness? Could the voice have been made mighty by only a part of its wholeness? Or could it only have been made puny thereby? We are gazing into the abyss here.

Similarly with this sentence: “In the end, in one of God’s unforeseen paths, this election may point us all to a new common ground.” This might approach close to having meaning if the second “in” were replaced with “by”, but it would still be an ugly mess, like the mind that engendered it. Which presumably was Gore’s: We are told that he writes really critical speeches himself.

Our first shot of the podium at the National Naval Observatory from which Gore made his speech showed no fewer than six American flags in the background. Six flags, and it sure has been a great adventure for Al. Now it’s over, everything but the wormwood and the gall, neither of which Al is quite ready to suck down yet. We have had one last, chilling look into the mind of a man who, far from “bringing this country together”, would have taken us into a whole new dimension of division, dishonesty, rancor, disorder, and mistrust. I say again: America has had a narrow escape.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review