You have to love Al Gore now. The man has been through a lot. I actually met Gore in Durham, NC, back in 1992 when Earth in the Balance was first published and he had not yet been chosen by Big Bill to be on the ticket. He had come for a book signing at a local independent bookstore, The Regulator Bookshop. I was working in a separate business, Africa News Service, downstairs in the basement of the building. He stopped by to shake hands (my recollection –cold, clammy hands!).
I forgive him for running such a lame ass campaign that the 2000 debacle — it would have been avoided if he had been able to carry his home state of TN. Florida wouldn’t have mattered, Gore would probably have saved tons in shrink bills, and we wouldn’t be in the Bush mess we are in now.
He has a great piece in the NYT on how to debate George Bush:
…Senator Kerry can also use these debates to speak directly to voters and lay out a hopeful vision for our future. If voters walk away from the debates with a better understanding of where our country is, how we got here and where each candidate will lead us if elected, then America will be the better for it. The debate tomorrow should not seek to discover which candidate would be more fun to have a beer with. As Jon Stewart of the “The Daily Show” nicely put in 2000, “I want my president to be the designated driver.”
The debates aren’t a time for rhetorical tricks. It’s a time for an honest contest of ideas. Mr. Bush’s unwillingness to admit any mistakes may score him style points. But it makes hiring him for four more years too dangerous a risk. Stubbornness is not strength; and Mr. Kerry must show voters that there is a distinction between the two.
If Mr. Bush is not willing to concede that things are going from bad to worse in Iraq, can he be trusted to make the decisions necessary to change the situation? If he insists on continuing to pretend it is “mission accomplished,” can he accomplish the mission? And if the Bush administration has been so thoroughly wrong on absolutely everything it predicted about Iraq, with the horrible consequences that have followed, should it be trusted with another four years?
The biggest single difference between the debates this year and four years ago is that President Bush cannot simply make promises. He has a record. And I hope that voters will recall the last time Mr. Bush stood on stage for a presidential debate. If elected, he said, he would support allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada. He promised that his tax cuts would create millions of new jobs. He vowed to end partisan bickering in Washington. Above all, he pledged that if he put American troops into combat: “The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well defined.”
Comparing these grandiose promises to his failed record, it’s enough to make anyone want to, well, sigh.