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September 25, 2002

Gore on Iraq

After a slow media start, Gore's speech on Iraq is becoming a flash point for discussion of opposition to the Iraq war. From the text, I have to give Gore some credit. From a mainstream anti-Iraq war perspective, it was actually a brilliant speech to shore up opposition. He paired the Iraq war against other goals that many voters would prefer. Primarily, he noted that the Iraq war would detract from fighting Al Quaeda style terrorism -- and he did it by linking Bush's supposed distraction from the war on terrorism to his failure on economics:

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.
I actually agree strongly with the first two sentences, that Bush blew US sympathy which could have been converted into stronger US power in a more collaborative approach. Although Bush blowing that possibility might be considered a saving grace.

Gore also hit the political goals of Bush's Iraq policy, contrasting it with the last Gulf War:

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."
Lastly, as far as himself, Gore is moving to position himself on the left side of the field for 2004, an interesting turn where he is courting labor against the DLC and making a number of other moves to reinforce his populist approach, much to the dismay of his former DLC allies. That could create a more interesting field for 2004 and maybe edge Gore into more of a chance for the nomination than I originally was predicting.

Posted by Nathan at September 25, 2002 10:23 AM

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More of a chance? C'mon. If Gore wants the nomination, he'll get it.

Here's a truly despicable column on Gore's speech. But it's not that far removed from the general contempt the Beltway pundits have for Gore.


Posted by: Paleo at September 25, 2002 12:58 PM

FROM ONDAY'S THE NOTE: "Roll Call 's Wallison asks, "Do you know where Al Gore is?" link

"The erstwhile vice president was expected to burn up the Congressional hustings this cycle — raising money, making new friends, sealing alliances — as he mulled a 2004 rematch with President Bush. Re-launching his political action committee in February, he called 2002 "a critical year for our country" and declared his commitment to electing Democratic candidates to Congress."

"Word and deed have not yet lined up, it would seem."

"Officials at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Gore has so far done something 'in the neighborhood' of 10 events for candidates this cycle; in October, the officials said, Gore is expected — but not confirmed — to do events for candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that will take the first shots at choosing the party's presidential nominee in 2004."

"Privately, some party strategists are fuming over what they consider to be the former vice president's lack of engagement in the Congressional fight."

Of course it's all well and good for party strategists to take potshots at Gore anonymously, but even Rep. Harold Ford says he's not sure what Gore's up to.

"Gore's unusual estrangement from Congressional Democrats comes at perhaps the least propitious time for a would-be presidential candidate — a time when aspirants are doing the party legwork that they hope will pay off with endorsements and assistance in the nomination process."

"Gore spokesman Jano Cabrera acknowledged that there is an 'impression' among some on Capitol Hill that Gore has not been particularly engaged this cycle. But he said that people who have raised questions about Gore's commitment are missing the bigger picture, which is that Gore has requests to fulfill at every stratum of the party, from local Democratic organizations to gubernatorial contests."

And, of course, there is MetWest, book, and grandkid stuff to attend to, as well.

The kicker is an unnamed Gore ally saying he thinks Gore's running."

Posted by: Jeff at October 1, 2002 06:46 AM

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