Al Gore’s speeches during the post-election fight have usually been disingenuous, but shrewd. Last night may just have been disingenuous.
There was his typical forced laugh. “This is America,” he said with a staged chuckle meant to provide lighthearted cover for his dead-serious desperation.
There was the rank demagoguery. During the election Republicans supposedly wanted to kill blacks and take away people’s Social Security benefits. Now, they want to ignore votes: “How can you or any American have confidence that your vote will not be ignored in a future election?”
There was the sanctimony. “We must not let those voices be silenced. Not for today, not for tomorrow, not for as long as this nation’s laws and democratic institutions let us stand and fight to let those voices count.” (Please, Al — save it for the introduction to the new edition of Earth in the Balance.)
And then there was the insulting half-truth, upon insulting distortion, upon insulting evasion, from his assertion that he wants a “complete” count in Florida (then why the selective hand counts?), to the idea that he is not requesting recounts (just a bald-faced lie), to the notion that some votes have not yet been counted (when they’ve been counted twice).
Al Gore might have been better off just saying what he believes: He won the national popular vote, more people went to the polls in Florida intending to vote for him, and both of those facts provide the moral justification for looking hard enough to find every Gore vote in Florida.
But saying what he believes must be the last thing that would occur to Al Gore by now. It may have well made for a more effective statement, but how much does it really matter? Gore needs a couple friendly Florida judges more than a few points in the opinion polls.