Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2000 / 22 Kislev, 5761

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Gore concedes --- but why did it take so long? -- IT'S OVER. Gore lost and Bush won. But we have known that was going to happen for at least two weeks, when it became clear that the Republicans had the exits covered. No matter what, the Florida legislature or the Republican-controlled Congress assured that Bush would win - win ugly, but win nonetheless.

So the question isn't so much, "Why did Gore lose?" Everyone knows - or thinks they know - the answer to that question. The more interesting question is, "Why did Gore take so long to give up?"

The first presumption, merits notwithstanding, is that Gore believed he actually won. Nobody likes to admit defeat when they think it's an unfair result. But even if you think you got a bad call in a basketball game, you still have to leave the court when the buzzer sounds.

Gore reasoned differently and, as a result, was willing to polarize the electorate, tarnish America's reputation and undermine public confidence in the courts. What must Gore think when he hears his advocate Jesse Jackson invoke the memory of Holocaust victims and play the race card for Gore's cause?

A second presumption is that Gore believed such damage is an acceptable price because of the important differences between his agenda and George W. Bush's. OK, let's factor both of those suppositions into the equation.

There's still a third variable that cannot be ignored. And that is Al Gore's ambition.

In 1991, Al Gore remarked that a candidate needs to be willing to "rip the heart and lungs out of anybody else in the race." Gore says such things with remarkable dispassion, as if he were explaining that the Senate needs 60 votes to close off debate or that greenhouse gas emissions run higher in industrial states. Indeed, it is such charmlessness that has led Gore to conclude, as he told Time magazine, "I don't consider myself a natural politician."

That's ironic considering every Gore biographer and observer confirms that he was raised from childhood to be president. His parents assigned tasks to young Albert that were intended not to make him into a man, but to make him into a man that could be president.

"A president of the United States should be able to clear that field," his father might say. Young Albert was forced to plow a hillside with a hand plow, because such endeavors would fortify him with perseverance a politician with presidential ambitions needs.

The problem arises from the fact that Al Gore was nurtured against the grain of his nature. His father may have been a natural politician, but his son simply is not. During the campaign even Bill Clinton -- in one of his exquisite moments of unhelpful frankness -- explained that, if not for his parents, Gore would have been happier becoming an academic.

But, like a wolf raised as a house pet, or more accurately a housepet raised like a wolf, Gore has no reliable instincts for when to be vicious and unforgiving and when to be genteel and humble. His ambitions are not truly his own.

In 1988, when contemplating his first run for the presidency, Gore commented, "Daddy really wants me to do this." Before a presidential debate that year, Gore's mother handed him an encouraging note, "Relax, Smile, Attack." These are three things a natural politician doesn't need his mother to tell him.

Many of the more noble qualities the Gore parents endeavored to imprint on their son are highly valued in farming or athletics. But, in politics, robotic determination is, at best, a mixed blessing.

When pure ruthless doggedness is imprinted on a man with no feel for the profession, it is an invitation to a bunker mentality and a willingness to pay any price for your agenda. This may reflect why close to 60 percent of Americans supported a Bush presidency by the end of this legal struggle.

Indeed, Gore was anything but oblivious to the havoc he caused. According to every report, he was its chief architect, issuing orders to even minor lawyers and encouraging remorseless assaults from surrogates.

Gore impressed everyone who talked to him with his comprehensive knowledge of the nitty-gritty of Florida election law. And he was the only member of his team not to get discouraged throughout the legal ordeal, according to reports from The Washington Post and elsewhere. He was merely clearing the field once again. To some, this tendency was foretold in much of Gore's slash-and-burn rhetoric during the campaign.

Regardless, we will never know whether Gore might have won if there were no margin of error in this presidential election. But we have a much better sense of the president he might have been.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


12/14/00: Is 'Queer as Folk' what we asked for?
12/11/00: Election mess hardly a 'civics lesson'
12/07/00: Clinton's tacky legacy
12/05/00: Marriage civilizes the manly beast
11/30/00: Gore's speech more pompous posturing
11/28/00: Rabble-rousing Dems act irresponsibly
11/27/00: Duking it out with democracy
11/16/00: Issues irrelevant to most voters
11/14/00: Gore's us-vs.-them campaign
11/10/00: Dot-com disasters missing brand-name success
11/06/00: Conventional wisdom turns with the polls
11/03/00: Clinton photo, appropriately, hits below the belt
11/01/00: Electoral college ensures democracy
10/30/00: New Yorkers, media letting Hillary off the hook
10/23/00: Gore needs to put first things first
10/20/00: Treatment of Farrakhan glosses over odd issues
10/16/00: Secrets of election can be found in 'Star Trek'
10/12/00: Arafat hardly 'provoked' into violence
10/10/00: Undecided voters may be ignorant, not discriminating
10/06/00: The importance of character isn't debatable
10/03/00: Conservatives are the true friends of science You know why?
09/29/00: Symbolic 'born alive' vote makes sense
09/25/00: Conservatives adopt abandoned liberalism
09/21/00: Ventura's media backpedaling makes fiction of his new book
09/18/00: Tough questions target Hillary Clinton's elitism
09/14/00: Hollywood morality to blame
09/11/00: Specifically, AlGore's detailed plan is meaningless
09/07/00: Time-honored tradition: Insult the press
09/05/00: Scouting out justice
08/30/00: The ADL's historical revisionism
08/28/00: Sitcoms will survive, post-"Survivor"
08/24/00: Candidates' choice of movies shows refreshing honesty
08/21/00: An AlGore victory? Only if dead birds fly
08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
06/23/00: If Fonda is sorry, let her say so
06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

© 2000, TMS