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  Al Gore, Version 15.0
by Brian S. Wise
November 2002

Analyzing the latest version of Al Gore.

Al Gore seems to be hitting his great intellectual stride in the exact same way I hope to hit mine: while on a book tour, being asked open ended softball questions by lame brained “journalists” who haven’t read my work, but who will nonetheless write of me and my book lovingly. Mostly, by the time one races into his mid-twenties, you’ll find he’s most comfortable with his personal and political philosophies, even if a few of the finer points do need to be worked out. For whatever reason, it took the two most senior members of the previous administration an additional quarter century (or so) to find and identify their “core principles,” and when this has happened, the announcements have been thrust onto the world with no small amount of enthusiasm, as if Clinton and Gore have discovered a cure for cancer.

Elton John didn’t come out with this much fanfare, and guess what? This latest version of Al Gore doesn’t much care for President Bush (because he just can’t do anything right), is against the Iraqi War and is basically, well, a socialist. Don’t take my word for it, consider these: 1) From Time magazine, “I think that our economic plan has zero chance of working. [What’s this “we,” white man?] I think that it is wrong at its core. I think that our foreign policy, based on an openly proclaimed intention to dominate the world, is a recipe for getting our country in some of the worst trouble it's ever been in.” 2) In New York last Wednesday, “[I have] reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health insurance plan."

Why can’t President Bush’s economic plan, basically tax cuts back-loaded to the later half of the decade, work? No one’s talking, even Gore, except to say it cannot work, and that if he were president, he would “scrap the whole thing and start over.” And by “start over,” Gore doesn’t mean a new round of tax cuts, he means doing away with tax cuts altogether. (This is also to be said of his “single-payer national health insurance plan”: there’s no method to the madness, just the madness.) Eleanor Clift has come close, saying that if we’re going to cut taxes, we’re going to have to look at the federal budget and make some very tough choices, and what do you want to do, make choices or have everything?

Make choices. Let’s start with those hog breeders in Ar-kansas (or wherever the hell they’re from): they’re out of the budget; if a public enterprise can’t exist on its own merit, then it shouldn’t exist and it should close down. Next time Trent Lott wants to funnel money to Mississippi to build more ships, the answer is no. Reverse every single farm subsidy reenacted in that abortion of a farm bill President Bush signed this year. Refuse to extend unemployment benefits for even one hour past the current time limit. There. It took me 60 seconds, and look how much money I saved the United States taxpayers.

Tax cuts are philosophical, and philosophy matters in politics because public manipulation is how politicians convince people to vote them into office, thus Gore’s recent testing of the issues. While there are exceptions, the Right wants tax cuts and the Left doesn’t. Why? Lots of reasons. The Right sees the phenomenal boons that followed the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts and know that, if left alone and given enough time to work their magic, tax cuts will produce the same results today. The Left sees tax cuts as nothing more than a benefit for the rich (which they should be, because the rich pay the vast majority of collected income tax), and though they won’t come right out and say it, they believe the Government can spend your money more effectively than you can.

Gore’s sole noteworthy objection to date was disguised as nonsense; the “dominating the world” stuff, in reference to that France-sized toilet known as Iraq and our upcoming involvement in its intimate affairs. One cannot necessarily fault Gore for not being keen on war; fact is, most folks aren’t looking forward to sending “our fighting men and women off to die,” or whatever the popular vernacular.

Amazing that no one has taken the time to explain to Gore that the only reason war with Iraq is inevitable is because Saddam Hussein has so far refused to accept that the Gulf War surrender documents were instruments of dominance, offering conditions for peace to which he (was supposed to have) no choice but to comply, not a list of helpful suggestions specially modified for dictators. The former vice-president would be wise to recall the two administrations who had the best chances of cutting the Hussein problem off at the pass but didn’t: The first Bush administration, and the Clinton administration, in which Gore played no small part (should we forget).

You could almost applaud the former vice-president's bravado if it weren't for the fact it's prompted by book promotion and untested by either focus groups or polling data. That being the case, one should feel free to play along with the next Gore campaign at home by clipping (or printing) and putting into a special file those articles outlining what Time called the New Gore and his grandest ideas - you'll know them by their headlines, which will most often begin with "Gore Calls For" and "Gore Criticizes" - to reflect upon 14 months hence. It's one thing to say "Bad economy, bad war, socialized medicine" today, when it has no consequence, but we'll see how it plays February after next in Iowa and New Hampshire.

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