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.