Matt Drudge has Al Gore's speech from yesterday. It really is hard to take seriously a man who would imply that the Patriot Act and the incarceration of enemy combatants and suspected terrorists is a greater threat to democracy than terrorism itself. I wonder if the people in the World Trade Towers, seeing those planes coming toward them, would have agreed. This criticism of the Bush administration is coming, moreover, from a man who served as vice president in an administration which secretly collected confidential FBI files on anyone deemed a political threat. Al Gore called the president responsible for this invasion of privacy one of the greatest presidents of the twentieth century.
In his speech Mr. Gore referred to "America's strategic catastrophe in Iraq". How can anyone at this point honestly call Iraq a strategic catastrophe? It may ultimately turn out badly, but indications at present point to the Iraqis as being, by almost any measure, better off than at anytime in the last twenty years. See Belmont Club for a much more trenchant analysis of our strategic position in Iraq and Chrenkoff for a sweeping picture of the military, economic, and social situation in Iraq.
Mr. Gore proceeds, exhibiting profound symptoms of short term memory loss: "President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein," he scoffs, even as the evidence mounts that Mr. Bush was correct (see here and here) that Saddam was indeed plotting terror attacks against the U.S.
Parenthetically, it seems that whether the terrorists actually call themselves al Qaida or not is irrelevant, especially to their victims. Why Mr. Gore and others are so obsessed with this point escapes me. One doubts whether Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg really cared whether the orcs who were sawing their heads off were actually members of a group called al Qaida or some other group of psychopaths. The term al Qaida has come to be a generic designator for terrorists in general and the Bush spokespeople may have been using the term in that sense. I don't know why that little molehill should be elevated into such a mountain.
Mr. Gore continues: "If he is not lying, if they genuinely believe that, that makes them unfit in battle with al Qaeda. If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick." The former VP, however, needs to check his own previous speeches before making such intemperate remarks. Power Line has done the research and here's what they turned up:
Mr. Gore, throwing shame to the winds, added this: "The last time we had a president who had the idea that he was above the law was ... Richard Nixon...."
Actually, the last time we had a president who thought he was above the law was about six years ago when Mr. Clinton thought he should be able to perjure himself and bend campaign finance laws with impunity. Mr. Clinton, recall, is the man Mr. Gore obsequiously named one of the best presidents of the twentieth century.
Finally, Mr. Gore builds toward a denouement: "The two top Justice Department officials under President Nixon, Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, turned out to be men of great integrity, and even though they were loyal Republicans, they were more loyal to the constitution and resigned on principle rather than implement what they saw as abuses of power by Nixon."
This raises a question. If this is, indeed, what men of honor do, why didn't Mr. Gore himself resign from the Clinton administration when it became obvious that Mr. Clinton had committed perjury?
Mr. Gore's speech was a screed. There were no positive proposals as to what should be done on the war on terror, no policy suggestions for handling terrorist suspects, no specific evidence to support the allegations he makes. The whole thing amounts to squeezing one's eyes tight shut, clenching one's fists and teeth and hissing, "Bush is evil" over and over until the mindless audience, mesmerized by the mantra, goes wild with approbation.
With every appearance Mr. Gore diminishes himself as a serious spokesperson for the Democrat party. He has transmogrified himself into the incredible shrinking man. He seems to have accepted the unseemly role of keeping Howard Dean's followers in the Kerry fold while Kerry pretends to be a more moderate, well-reasoned voice within the party. What a circus.