Wednesday, March 26, 2008

If only...

Recently, Florida Congressman and uncommitted superdelegate Tim Mahoney told a local paper that if he headed to August's Denver Democratic National Convention without a nominee, things could get interesting: "If [that happens], don't be surprised if someone different is at the top of the ticket."

Someone, like Al Gore.

Mahoney suggested that Democrats could get behind either a Gore/ Clinton or Gore/ Obama ticket. From Gore's point of view, a Gore/ Obama scenario is far more likely as he doesn't get along with the Clintons well anymore, and seems to have more in common with Obama.

Okay, so this probably (definitely) isn't going to happen. But, it raises a good opportunity to talk about the person most qualified to be the next president-- the man that combines Hillary's experience (only not fabricated) and Obama's judgment (only more specific).

Gore is always the smartest person in the room, and he knows it-- and that's always been his biggest problem. Back in 2000, when he rolled his eyes every time George Bush attempted to answer a question, it was the genuine reaction of a guy a foot smarter than his opponent.

A couple of days ago, I posted the speech Barack Obama gave a week before the authorization to invade Iraq. Now, it's time to rehash Gore's. Their conclusions are identical, but the speeches, like the men themselves, are very different.

Where Obama's is short and to the point, Gore's is long and methodical. Obama's is soaring and inspiring, and almost poetic in its delivery. Gore is scientific as he breaks down, point by point, why the war is the wrong decision. It's like a law review article in his precision, perhaps one drafted by Holmes.

Quick reminder: the speech was given on Sept. 23, 2002. At the time President Bush's approval ratings were in the upper 60s, and Al Gore had yet to publicly criticize any move by the president since their divisive 2000 election.

It's long, so here's the link to the transcript, and below are some key excepts.

Contrasting the first Gulf War (which he vigorously supported) with the present proposed action:

... Fifth, President George H. W. Bush purposely waited until after the mid-term elections of 1990 to push for a vote at the beginning of the new Congress in January of 1991. President George W. Bush, by contrast, is pushing for a vote in this Congress immediately before the election. Rather than making efforts to dispel concern at home an abroad about the role of politics in the timing of his policy, the President is publicly taunting Democrats with the political consequences of a "no" vote - even as the Republican National Committee runs pre-packaged advertising based on the same theme -- in keeping with the political strategy clearly described in a White House aide's misplaced computer disk, which advised Republican operatives that their principal game plan for success in the election a few weeks away was to "focus on the war." Vice President Cheney, meanwhile indignantly described suggestions of political motivation "reprehensible." The following week he took his discussion of war strategy to the Rush Limbaugh show.

On preemptive war

By shifting from his early focus after September 11th on war against terrorism to war against Iraq, the President has manifestly disposed of the sympathy, good will and solidarity compiled by America and transformed it into a sense of deep misgiving and even hostility. In just one year, the President has somehow squandered the international outpouring of sympathy, goodwill and solidarity that followed the attacks of September 11th and converted it into anger and apprehension aimed much more at the United States than at the terrorist network - much as we manage to squander in one year's time the largest budget surpluses in history and convert them into massive fiscal deficits. He has compounded this by asserting a new doctrine - of preemption.

Iraq after invasion:

... Moreover, if we quickly succeed in a war against the weakened and depleted fourth rate military of Iraq and then quickly abandon that nation as President Bush has abandoned Afghanistan after quickly defeating a fifth rate military there, the resulting chaos could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.

... When Secretary Rumsfield was asked recently about what our responsibility for restabilizing Iraq would be in an aftermath of an invasion, he said, "that's for the Iraqis to come together and decide."


... What this doctrine does is to destroy the goal of a world in which states consider themselves subject to law, particularly in the matter of standards for the use of violence against each other. That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.

I believe that we can effectively defend ourselves abroad and at home without dimming our principles. Indeed, I believe that our success in defending ourselves depends precisely on not giving up what we stand for.

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