Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 29, 2004
WAR: MoveOn Speech By Man Who Can't Move On

Fear Leads To Anger, Anger Leads To Hate, Hate Leads To Suffering

For those of us bloggers and pundits on the right, an Al Gore speech is just a gift that keeps on giving. Here's the full horror:

George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

* * *
[F]rom its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." . . .

More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as
repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.

Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens -- sooner or later -- to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul.

One of the clearest indications of the impending loss of intimacy with one's soul is the failure to recognize the existence of a soul in those over whom power is exercised, especially if the helpless come to be treated as animals, and degraded. We also know -- and not just from De Sade and Freud -- the psychological proximity between sexual depravity and other people's pain. It has been especially shocking and awful to see these paired evils perpetrated so crudely and cruelly in the name of America.

Those pictures of torture and sexual abuse came to us embedded in a wave of news about escalating casualties and growing chaos enveloping our entire policy in Iraq. But in order understand the failure of our overall policy, it is important to focus specifically on what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison, and ask whether or not those actions were representative of who we are as Americans? Obviously the quick answer is no, but unfortunately it's more complicated than that.

There is good and evil in every person. And what makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our
carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our natural distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have led us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations more than the people any other nation.

* * *

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 that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.

The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th.

There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with. But instead of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse. We are less safe because of his policies. He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him.

There's really too much leftist nujobbery here to cover in one sitting, as Powerline has noted. Surely, Gore recognizes the irony of accusing Bush of "sexual depravity" and being "the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon," given who Gore sold his soul to.

Michele accurately captures the spirit of the speech (you missed a lot if you didn't see or hear quite how unglued Gore sounded and looked). John Podhoretz thinks Gore has genuinely lost his mind. Gore begins to remind me of Johnny Sack from the Sopranos, driven to self-destructive extremes by his resentments:

Tony: He used to be a pragmatist.
Silvio: Some people are better at being No. 2's.

I realize Bush wouldn't have handled losing as Gore did very well either; few politicians would have, although I suspect that Bush would have had the discipline to hold his team together for a rematch in 2004. Nixon is the worst example: he truly became the Nixon of Watergate because he believed he'd been robbed and cheated in 1960 (witness his abuse of the IRS after he believed the Kennedys had had him audited in the early 1960s). But Gore has gone so far off the deep end, it's scary to think how he would have handled crises in the White House; I dread the thought of him under the stresses that the War on Terror have brought.

I'll give Taranto the last word on the wages of believing your own overheated rhetoric:

How did the Dems come to such a pass? In large part, it's Gore's fault. The Democrats held the White House in 2000, at a time of apparent peace and prosperity. They should have won the election that year, and they surely would have had they only had a decent candidate. But instead they had Al Gore. . . .

There's a telling line right at the beginning of Gore's speech: George W. Bush, he says, "has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon." Here Gore is engaging in what psychologists call "projection": attributing one's own faults to others. The most dishonest president since Richard Nixon obviously is the one who was impeached for lying under oath--the president, that is, whose No. 2 was none other than Al Gore.

Gore would have become president had Bill Clinton resigned after his 1998 impeachment, or had 17 Democratic senators voted to convict him in his impeachment trial. President Gore likely would have been re-elected in 2000, since he would have had the advantage of incumbency and been free of the Clinton taint that (unaccompanied by the Clinton charm) hurt him so much in the "red" states.

Instead, party discipline held, and the Senate acquitted Clinton. This was another missed opportunity for Gore. Had he publicly broken from Clinton and called on the president to resign, other Democrats might well have followed his lead. Instead, he appeared at a White House rally immediately after the impeachment vote and described Clinton as "a man who I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest presidents."

Thus it was Al Gore, more than anyone else, who assured the election of George W. Bush as president. And if Gore actually believes all the paranoid nonsense he utters about "global warming," "an unprecedented assault on civil liberties," the "American gulag," the "catastrophe" in Iraq and so on, he let down not only his party but his country and the world, which will soon be destroyed thanks to Bush's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty.

That's more guilt than anyone should be forced to endure.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:11 AM | War 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Other than the fact the various critiques of Gore's speech are based on pop psychology and a reference to leftist nujobbery (nutjobbery I assume?), you all miss the basic reality that the majority of Americans, and probable voting Americans, have a similar reaction to the Bush Administration. I mean, a link to a cartoon? C'mon.

Posted by: Adw at May 30, 2004 01:11 PM

That's the beauty of a completely polarized country...I agree with everything Gore said, and love that he said it.

Posted by: Mr Furious at May 31, 2004 01:13 AM

Let's try an obvious example:

he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

Gore neglects to mention that the ban on photos of coffins was in effect for the entire 8 years of the Clinton Administration. By this standard, Gore admits that he and Clinton willfully dishonored the dead from Somalia to the Cole.

Of course, the press can get photos of the coffins if they want - with the permissions of the families of the dead when the remains are delivered to the families. Gore obviously (now) thinks the families should have no say.

As for funerals, again, Gore ignores that Bush has met privately with many of the families. And that presidents traditionally may show up for large memorial services but rarely if ever for individual soldiers' funerals.

But Gore's not interested in being reasonable or accurate - he's just throwing a fit and tossing in any old bit of garbage he can find on the internet.

Posted by: The Crank at May 31, 2004 09:18 AM

Fair points, Crank. Those are two weak critiques for Gore or anyone else to bring up. The photo ban has been on the books since sometime in the 80s (I think), but it is true that the Bush Administration is the first to try and vigorously enforce it. Of course they are the first to really have motivation to try...

As far as the funerals, that is also a straw man argument. It is not necessarily appropriate for the President to crash a funeral, and while some families might appreciate the gesture, many would resent the photo op-mentality and press crush that accompanied a Presidential presence.

There are plenty of good things for Gore, Kerry or anyone else (like me) to slam the President on (like, say, his hypocritical appearances and speeches over Memorial Day while slashing veteran's benefits the very same week) without having to offer this kind of crap.

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 1, 2004 11:51 PM
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