The Corner

Gored

Al Gore has an astonishing op-ed in the New York Times today. The headline is promising: “How To Debate George Bush.” (My advice: Don’t sigh.) The article, however, is less about debate tactics than it is a general assault on the Bush record. Yet a few points are worth pondering. “This year, as usual, the dominance of attack advertisements on television has made it hard to get a clear picture of where the candidates stand,” writes Gore. Oh, really? It seems to me that Kerry has done a fine job all by himself of confusing the public about where he stands on important issues. Also, this is loser talk: Defeated candidates love to think the public was deceived. It comforts them.

My jaw dropped when I read this: “The debate tomorrow should not seek to discover which candidate would be more fun to have a beer with. As Jon Stewart of the ‘The Daily Show’ nicely put in 2000, ‘I want my president to be the designated driver.’” (Gore’s next two sentences: “The debates aren’t a time for rhetorical tricks. It’s a time for an honest contest of ideas.”)

What an extraordinary smear. Gore very nearly became president because of a last-minute drunk-driving story about Bush–and the Gore campaign consistently said that it had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the well-timed disclosure of Bush’s ancient offense. If I were writing a NYT op-ed on “How Al Gore Should Opine About Bush,” I would urge him to lay off the town-drunk innuendos. Gore is capable of stooping very low, but even this is beneath him. Or at least it should be.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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