Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 24, 2002
WAR/POLITICS: Anti-War Gore
Somebody forgot to upgrade Al Gore's program; he's still running Anti-War 3.0, the August 2002 version, when most of the Democrats have moved on to limiting the President's mandate and then quickly changing the subject. Both Gore and (you guessed it) Jimmy Carter are still spitting out cliches that no serious person could value. Gore does nicely encapsulate the theory of the "only with the UN" crowd, when he "accused Bush of abandoning the goal of a world where nations follow laws. 'That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the president of the United States,' he said. 'If other nations assert the same right, then the rule of law will quickly be replaced by the reign of fear,' and any nation that perceives itself threatened would feel justified in starting wars, he said."
Of course, the rule of law is also undermined when people who break the law suffer no consequences, as would happen here with Saddam. In that sense, Gore fits neatly in David Brooks' box: he's so caught up with Bush that he has nothing to say about Saddam after having argued in campaign 2000 that he would push for Saddam's overthrow (hey, wouldn't that violate the law?) But the failure to enforce international law runs to a deeper failing: the all-too-common Left/liberal view that having laws is the important thing, as opposed to enforcing them. Thus, one can push for more complex and all-consuming campaign finance laws but then complain that there is "no controlling legal authority" when caught violating one of them, and hey, everybody does it! (We won't even get into sexual harrassment law, but you remember that one too).
There's a legitimate argument here that some of Bush's preemption principles would shatter the already tissue-thin fabric of international institutions, but as the President has amply demonstrated, this specific case is one where those institutions are under an even greater threat from inaction than action. Any serious person in the governments of reluctant allies like Germany or Saudi Arabia surely, privately, knows this. Perhaps Al Gore does too. If so, shame on him.
I always thought that Gore was a more serious threat to democracy than Clinton, because Gore at least seemed to be an honest man who adopted lying as a deliberate and cynical strategy, premised upon a contempt for the intelligence and attention spans of the voters, in the belief that it had been proven successful, whereas Clinton may well be so steeped in his own deceptions that he really can't see that what he's doing is wrong. Here we have another example: Anti-War Gore is no more convincing than Semi-Hawk Al was during the Cold War, or Last Minute Convert To The War Gore was in 1991. They all smell like carefully calibrated examples of opportunism. Except this time, the stakes of opportunism are unacceptably high.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 07:09 AM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)