James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Al Gore

I finally got around to reading Al Gore's Monday speech. Although I have some quibbles and some major disagreements with Gore's rhetoric and ideology, I don't disagree with a word of what Gore says about Bush's abuses of the Constitution. Yes, it is easy to say, "But when Gore was Vice President, Clinton did this, Clinton did that, and Clinton did that other thing." All true; Clinton's record with the Bill of Rights is deplorable. But that doesn't mean that Clinton-Gore was as bad as Bush-Cheney. And it doesn't mean that, after spending five years away from Washington, where he had been since 1976, Gore doesn't have the right to a different perspective and to change his mind on some things.

I think of two historical precedents. The first is Herbert Hoover's criticisms of the New Deal. It is true that many of the Hoover Administration's interventions into the economy were forerunners of the New Deal. It is also true that they were mistakes, and that they were so counter-productive that Roosevelt ran against them in 1932 (just as Bush in 2000 promoted a "humble" foreign policy). But for all his faults, Hoover did not intend to implement economic fascism. And that is what his successor, Franklin Roosevelt, did. Gore is in a similar situation as Hoover. Yes, much of what Clinton-Gore did was a forerunner to what Bush is doing, but that doesn't mean that Gore must applaud what Bush is doing.

The second precedent is Richard Nixon in 1968. Gore has the (ad)vantage point of a Washington "outsider" who doesn't bear any blame for what's happened in the past five years. That's unlike Hillary, Kerry, Edwards, and many other Congressional Democrats who voted for many of Bush's foreign and domestic policies. Just as Richard Nixon, very narrowly defeated in 1960, represented in 1968 the better days under Eisenhower, so Gore represents the better days of the 1990's.

I think that the real reason Gore didn't win (i.e., couldn't score a convincing Electoral College majority) in 2000 was that he wanted the Presidency too much. His mistakes came from trying too hard, from desperation, which allowed Bush to seem reasonable and affable in comparison. Hopefully with his time away from Washington Gore has contemplated not just the faults of Bush, but also of the Clinton administration and of his 2000 campaign.

If Gore's performance on Monday is any indication, I think I'll be rooting for him. Of course, there may be other guys on both sides worth rooting for. It's all still a long time off. My only rules so far are:

1. Anybody but Hillary;
2. Anybody but McCain.


  1. No Senators.

    So far, Gore is my pick.

  2. I agree, Clinton-Gore was better than Bush-Cheney. There hasn't been anything worse than Bush-Cheney in my lifetime. Even Nixon vetoed things.

    On another point, how could we tell that Hoover wouldn't have wanted the economic facism Roosevelt pursued? FDR ran against that kind of thing, but then did it anyway. Hoover was headed that way, and might have kept on going.

    This kind of thing seems universal among politicians of both parties.They're against intrusive government when they're out of power, and for in when they have the lash.

    How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving.

    History taken into account, I find it worthless to go to the polls. That's why I prefer the DownsizeDC.org approach. Take the phone out of being a politician by constantly harassing them.

  3. I wrote phone. I meant fun.