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
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