Can we get Al Gore on the 2004 ticket? Please? Didn’t Bill Clinton tell us he was the greatest vice president in the history of the country? It’s not only partisan Republicans who snicker about the new, louder, unhinged Gore. Many Democratic operatives can’t keep a straight face or refrain from rolling their eyes as the former vice president tries to roar back onto the political stage.
Al Gore is proving to be the most irrelevant, comically absurd former vice president since Spiro Agnew. This blustering Saturday Night Live caricature is no longer a serious political figure. At a MoveOn.org event yesterday, Gore–in wild-eyed, Howard Dean-like fashion–screamed out the names of most of the Bush-administration defense and national-security leadership (including the Clinton/Gore CIA director) and demanded their resignation in the middle of the war on terror. Columnist Charles Krauthammer observed, “Looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again.” The speech, long on invective and short on facts, was an endorsement of a policy of appeasement, retreat, and good old blame-America-first extremism.
In Al Gore’s increasingly bizarre worldview, Condi Rice is a bigger threat to the world than bin Laden or the butchers who kill our soldiers in Iraq. As our troops are in harm’s way overseas, Gore’s contribution to war-on-terror strategy is the idea that we should upend our entire national-security apparatus and go through a half-dozen or so contentious confirmation hearings this summer. Weeks ago, Gore’s 2000 running mate, Joe Lieberman, observed, “We’re in the middle of a war–you wouldn’t want to have the secretary of defense change unless there’s really good reason for it and I don’t see any good reason at this time.”
Radio and TV host Sean Hannity appropriately called for a moment of prayer in the opening of his radio show yesterday to thank God Al Gore isn’t running the country. We can only hope the Democratic Convention will prominently feature the coalition of the unhinged (Dean, Gore, MoveOn.org). But consider the increasingly small circle of company Al Gore has been keeping these days:
‐MoveOn.org. Gore’s top speaking destination of choice not only opposes the war in Iraq, they opposed the war in Afghanistan, too. Just days after September 11, MoveOn.org put out a statement saying, “We recognize that we are now in a world where indiscriminate military actions can make us less safe….” Well, you didn’t have to worry about Al Gore indiscriminately going after bin Laden, did you: He and Clinton just bombed a few aspirin factories.
‐MoveOn.org’s campaign director, 23-year-old Eli Pariser. Eli’s reservoir of experience includes protesting globalization and World Bank meetings. His group has promoted ads comparing Bush to Hitler. Maybe Eli’s helping Gore plug in with the “youth” for Al’s soon-to-fail media ventures?
‐The Day After Tomorrow movie gang. Along with MoveOn.org, Gore has promoted this scientifically inaccurate movie in order to question whether the president understands the threat of global warming. Yes, that would be the same Al Gore who warned us about global warming at a January 15 MoveOn.org rally on the coldest day of the past decade in the northeast.
Do you get the feeling Al Gore is not accepted in respectable company anymore–even among Democrats? Can you imagine Joe Lieberman showing up at a MoveOn.org event, much less giving a speech there? Bill Clinton hasn’t been seen to share a picture frame with Gore in years. Hillary Clinton long ago made the decision to ditch Al. Do you think Senator Tom Daschle will be inviting him to South Dakota in his close race? A Saturday Night Live parody earlier this year even featured a John Kerry character trying to dodge Gore’s endorsement (it was the kiss of death for Howard Dean). Many of his former campaign staff signed up with other candidates even before Gore declined to run.
A former vice president has never engaged in such a simultaneously self-destructive, menacing, and factually questionable speech during war. Gore’s speech was both an indictment and a conviction of the entire Bush administration leadership for events at Abu Ghraib. Gore claimed, “What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by ‘a few bad apples,’ it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy….” This is not what official investigative findings to date have revealed. Is Gore also indicting our military officials involved in the investigations?
Outside of MoveOn.org, the biggest cheers for Gore must have been coming from caves in Afghanistan and diehards in Fallujah. Bitterness over Florida and exile from most of the leaders of your own party are no excuses for such irresponsibility.
After the speech, Gore loyalists and Democratic leaders defended him as well as MoveOne.org. Former Gore spokesperson Doug Hattaway told Hannity that Gore’s tone was “absolutely appropriate.” Former Gore chief-of-staff Ron Klain spoke approvingly of MoveOn.org as “the largest-growing progressive group in this country” and a “powerful force in American politics.” If Democrats are going to claim that they think Gore is a credible representative of the party, why not Kerry-Gore in 2004?
Most Americans will recognize that giving this kind of comfort to the enemy during war does not speak for our nation, and they are grateful Al Gore doesn’t either. Yesterday Gore preached to us that we needed someone with “good judgment and common sense” in the presidency. We got that by not electing him.
–Barbara Comstock is a former Department of Justice spokeswoman and currently a principal with Blank Rome Government Relations.