Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2002 / 21 Tishrei, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
Profile in fence-sitting
SENATE MAJORITY Leader Tom Daschle doesn't
get it: War is a political issue.
If voters elect more hawks, America gets more
military -- which can be good or bad, depending on
the circumstances. If voters elect more doves, they
get less military -- for better or for worse.
A true leader -- such as President Bush -- takes
stands on tough issues, such as Iraq.
Daschle, on the other hand, seems offended that
politics compel him to explain how his course of
action is best for the country, and by Bush's
passionate defense of his policies.
"We ought not to politicize the rhetoric about life and
death," Daschle said Wednesday. Yes, that's the
same Daschle who had wanted to put off a vote on an
Iraq resolution until after the November election.
Does anyone believe that Daschle was afraid the
Democrats would gain a few Senate seats and clinch
his leadership position?
Enter that cutout of a human being, Al Gore. Gore
could give Daschle lessons on rhetorical hedging.
The former vice president's speech on Bush's Iraq
policy before the Commonwealth Club here on
Monday was a big news story. Don't ask me why. It's
not as if it took political courage to bash Bush in San
And Gore didn't say much.
Consider this much-cited line from the speech: "If
you're going after Jesse James, you ought to
organize the posse first, especially if you're in the
middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after
What does that mean? That it's a good idea to
organize a posse while a gunslinger is shooting at
And the worst of it is, Gore didn't just say that line off
the top of his head. He wrote it into a carefully
The New York Times reported that Gore consulted
with actor-director Rob "Meathead" Reiner as he was
writing Monday's speech. But don't blame Meathead.
Gore's always had a gift for talking out of both sides
of his mouth. This is vintage Gore.
If Bush succeeds in the war on terrorism, Gore can
cite lines to show that he was supportive. (Before the
posse line, Gore said America can fight Osama bin
Laden and build an international coalition.)
If Bush fails, well, Gore warned him how tough it
would be to fight bin Laden and Saddam Hussein
Like Daschle, Gore shuddered at "the role that
politics might be playing in the calculations of some
in the administration. I have not raised those doubts,
but many have." Translation: Gore doesn't even have
the spine to charge that Bush is political, so he'll
hide behind other people who say it.
No surprise then if Gore doesn't have the backbone
to take a stand on a life-and-death issue.
Then, there's Gore's cheap-shot charge that Bush is
pursuing Hussein because defeating Osama bin
Laden and al Qaeda "is proving to be more difficult
and lengthy than predicted."
Bogus. Bush never said the war on terrorism would
be a quickie.
Gore asserted that Bush "has quickly abandoned
almost all of Afghanistan" --
even as some 9,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan,
according to the Pentagon.
Gore warned that the United States may lose if a war
is fought on two fronts -- which made Cliff May,
president of the Foundation for the Defense of
Democracies, laugh. "We're the nation that fought
Germany, Japan and Italy all at once," said May.
The day after the speech, Commonwealth Club
member Alexa Vuksich said she still didn't
understand what Gore was saying. But she knew it
was "intellectually dishonest."
All that sanctimony -- and so little no substance.
Or as Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gore's 2000 running
mate, told The Chronicle, "Al didn't really indicate
how he would vote on a resolution."
Maybe Gore's just busy organizing a posse, waiting
for someone else's gunfight to blow over.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate