Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2000/ 22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761
The devil -- or is it really
Nurse Ratchet? -- in Mr. Gore
FORGET THE EMPEROR. The devil is buck naked, and no
innocents remain to call his b(l)uff.
So it is in the wake of Al Gore's latest incarnation as
The Statesman-Reconciler and the American public as
the steadfastly dupe-able parade-gazers. With nothing
to lose, Gore is suddenly the high-road man, the
reasonable chap, the conciliatory captain so needed at
America's helm, while his opponent is made to seem the
One is hard-pressed to find fault with Gore's
public-relations strategy -- it's working -- but his naked
ambition remains stunning. A cunning champion of
double-speak, he's the political twin of Nurse Ratchet
from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, speaking
through smiles in dulcet tones while tidily eviscerating his
The man may be brilliant, after all, but he's not the
benevolent leader he pretends to be, nor is he honest. If
you had hooked Al "Ratchet" Gore to a lie-detector test
during Wednesday's white-flag spiel, he would have
failed. Unless, like his boss, he has learned to believe his
own syntactical inventions.
For it is insincere (dishonest?) to proffer solutions one
knows in advance won't be accepted. Gore is being
insincere, for instance, when he says he's willing to
endorse a manual count of all ballots in Florida's 67
counties, if that's what George Bush wants.
His invitation is the equivalent of a dinner invitation
extended to people certain to decline. Of course Bush
isn't going to accept Gore's proposal, which is only an
invitation to lose. Furthermore, the manual counting of
ballots is fraught with potential problems the Gore camp
seems unwilling to acknowledge.
The opportunity for intentional fraud -- or human error
by the least-partisan guesser -- can't be exaggerated. It
isn't the voter who counts, after all; it's who counts the
vote, as George W. Bush knows and the always-witty
Joseph Stalin once said.
Next, Gore says, let's meet and raise the level of
discourse. A lovely gesture from a decent man, except
Gore's minions are the dirtiest, scorched-earth fighters
on the field. One's natural response is: You go first.
Which, of course, Gore has done in a strategic coup
that implicitly underscores Bush's unwillingness to
cooperate. Rhetorically, it's the old trap: "So when did
you stop beating your wife?"
As evidence of dirty dealing, one need look no further
than the Democrats' ad hominem attacks on Florida
Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Dream-Team
lawyer Alan Dershowitz called her a "crook." (I'll try not
to get distracted by the Gore campaign's apparent need
to construct a dream team that can only foster
recollection of another dubious victory.) Other Gore
spokes-czars referred to Harris as a "Soviet commissar"
and a "political hack."
The woman is an elected official trying to enforce state
rules according to the presumed discretion accorded her
by the people's vote -- the same people Gore loves to
trust. So she's a Republican; so she was a delegate to
the Republican convention; so she was a Bush
campaigner. So what?
We don't assume that all those Democrats counting
ballots down there in Palm Beach County can't be relied
upon simply because they're Democrats.
Or do we?
Americans of a certain age grew up knowing that it's not
whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.
Recent events make the first part seem hopelessly na´ve
-- clearly it matters who wins a presidential race -- but
the second part seems more true than ever.
Notwithstanding his latest performance, the aptly named
vice president plays dirtiest even when he's being
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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©1999, Tribune Media Services