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Why is Al Gore So Silent?
Published on Thursday, July 19, 2001 in the San Francisco Chronicle
Why is Al Gore So Silent?
by Robert Scheer
 
WHERE IS Al Gore? Maybe he hasn't noticed, but all sorts of horrible things are happening under the Bush administration -- just as he predicted. Yet Gore has been totally silent.

That may be his right as a victim of blatant election fraud, but please don't even suggest that this milquetoast be given another chance to be the Democratic candidate for president. Milquetoast is not a word to be used lightly in describing the shell-shocked behavior of someone cheated out of the presidency, but the wound-licking has gone on long enough.

True, as the New York Times documented in excruciating detail Sunday, a six- month investigation found new evidence that the Florida election was distorted by the partisan miscounting of absentee votes. When added to the rest of the evidence from Florida, it's obvious that Gore won both the national popular and electoral votes, and should be president. The Republicans played ugly, they misused the power of Congress and the Florida state government to exclude ballots for Gore while including others with the same flaws for Bush.

What the Republicans did was reprehensible, and when combined with the foul partisanship of the Supreme Court majority, arguably the lowest point in modern American electoral history. But that's all the more reason to take them on now before they do more damage.

If Gore cared about the issues he raised during the campaign, why isn't he front and center in the leadership of the loyal opposition? He's not the only one hurting, it's the whole country.

While Gore, who decisively won the popular vote, sulks, George the Second seems to wake up each morning convinced that he has a mandate to do as much damage to foreign and domestic policy as possible.

Not content with dismissing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as a relic, he now threatens to destroy the test ban treaty, as well. Global warming is to be accepted as quite possibly a good thing, energy conservation is dismissed as a foolish notion, and the vital work of Planned Parenthood and other world population-control groups has been sacrificed on the altar of Republican fundamentalism.

In a con act that would land a private-sector executive in jail, Bush sold Congress on a mythical recession-proof budget surplus that could be both given away as a tax rebate and simultaneously spent on increased military spending.

If the recession is prolonged, as it now threatens to be, the projected surplus will shrivel further, and long-term funding for Social Security and Medicare once again will be threatened.

Is Gore unaware that the high-tech economy, which the Clinton administration nourished for eight years, is now in shambles and that the net worth of the average American is in serious decline?

Clinton's agenda was pretty moderate, but at least he knew that the federal government was not the enemy and that a huge tax cut for the rich was hardly a prudent alternative to adequately funding essential public services.

Clinton's personal behavior may have been juvenile, but his public policies were most often well thought out and serious. The Bush offspring seems to view the making of public policy as nothing more than the collating of corporate lobbyists' wish lists.

Gore will not defend the achievements of the Clinton-Gore years because he still has problems admitting that he was a member of that winning team. His Clinton phobia is what cost Gore a tamper-proof win in the election, and it's the source of his failure to effectively critique the Bush administration.

To put it bluntly: Gore is nothing without Clinton, and his inability to boldly champion the eight years of the Clinton administration's record has rendered him politically impotent.

2001 San Francisco Chronicle

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