Friday | August 08, 2003
Gore disses the DLC; acts "angry"
Gore's speech yesterday at NYU has given the establishment a good jolt.
Why? Because he pulled no punches, attacking Bush's handling of Iraq and essentially calling him a liar:
But whether you agree with that conclusion or not, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican -- or an Independent, a Libertarian, a Green or a Mugwump -- you've got a big stake in making sure that Representative Democracy works the way it is supposed to. And today, it just isn't working very well. We all need to figure out how to fix it because we simply cannot keep on making such bad decisions on the basis of false impressions and mistaken assumptions.
Earlier, I mentioned the feeling many have that something basic has gone wrong. Whatever it is, I think it has a lot to do with the way we seek the truth and try in good faith to use facts as the basis for debates about our future -- allowing for the unavoidable tendency we all have to get swept up in our enthusiasms.
That last point is worth highlighting. Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith, and we're all used to that. I've even been guilty of it myself on occasion. But there is a big difference between that and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty.
Unfortunately, I think it is no longer possible to avoid the conclusion that what the country is dealing with in the Bush Presidency is the latter. That is really the nub of the problem -- the common source for most of the false impressions that have been frustrating the normal and healthy workings of our democracy.
Americans have always believed that we the people have a right to know the truth and that the truth will set us free. The very idea of self-government depends upon honest and open debate as the preferred method for pursuing the truth -- and a shared respect for the Rule of Reason as the best way to establish the truth.
Given the tone and content of this speech, it's clear that Gore has taken the "we need to confront Bush" approach to 2004. His fierce attacks on Bush's Iraq war are in direct contradiction of DLC views -- and Gore was long a DLC member in good standing.
And the style, ah the style... It was a thing of beauty. Anger and outrage work. There are lots of reasons to be angry and outraged, and if a candidate doesn't demonstrate those emotions, then he has no soul.
If the 21st century is to be well started, we need a national agenda that is worked out in concert with the people, a healing agenda that is built on a true national consensus. Millions of Americans got the impression that George W. Bush wanted to be a "healer, not a divider", a president devoted first and foremost to "honor and integrity." Yet far from uniting the people, the president's ideologically narrow agenda has seriously divided America. His most partisan supporters have launched a kind of 'civil cold war' against those with whom they disagree.
Posted August 08, 2003 08:58 AM
And as for honor and integrity, let me say this: we know what that was all about, but hear me well, not as a candidate for any office, but as an American citizen who loves my country:
For eight years, the Clinton-Gore Administration gave this nation honest budget numbers; an economic plan with integrity that rescued the nation from debt and stagnation; honest advocacy for the environment; real compassion for the poor; a strengthening of our military -- as recently proven -- and a foreign policy whose purposes were elevated, candidly presented and courageously pursued, in the face of scorched-earth tactics by the opposition. That is also a form of honor and integrity, and not every administration in recent memory has displayed it.
So I would say to those who have found the issue of honor and integrity so useful as a political tool, that the people are also looking for these virtues in the execution of public policy on their behalf, and will judge whether they are present or absent.