On Saturday, the NY Times declared that Congressional Democrats were thrilled to have George W. Bush leading America's War Against Terrorism. "Bush Winning Gore Backers' High Praises," announced the story by Richard Berke. He writes, "Many Democrats who once dismissed Mr. Bush as too naïve and too dependent on advisers to steer the United States through an international crisis are now praising his and his advisers' performance. Some are even privately expressing satisfaction that Mr. Gore, who tried to make his foreign affairs expertise an issue in the campaign, did not win." My response can be summarized in one simple expletive: bull.
Top 10 Reasons Why Al Gore Would Be a Better Wartime President Than George W. Bush
With Bush's approval ratings in the stratosphere, and with the American media worshiping at his feet, why would this writer go out on a limb to say that Al Gore would do a better job of leading America's war against terrorism?
Because it's true.
On Saturday, the NY Times declared that Congressional Democrats were thrilled to have George W. Bush leading America's War Against Terrorism. "Bush Winning Gore Backers' High Praises", announced the story by Richard Berke.
He writes, "Many Democrats who once dismissed Mr. Bush as too naïve and too dependent on advisers to steer the United States through an international crisis are now praising his and his advisers' performance. Some are even privately expressing satisfaction that Mr. Gore, who tried to make his foreign affairs expertise an issue in the campaign, did not win."
My response can be summarized in one simple expletive: bull.
Berke's article does not find "many" Democrats praising Bush's performance. He finds exactly three who have the guts to go on the record. The other people he quotes anonymously - a former Senator and a former Clinton official, the rest unidentified - are not true Democrats, but cowards.
One of the two quoted Democrats, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said, "Even though I'm a Democrat and think the Supreme Court selected our president, I don't think it's to our disadvantage to have George Bush as president. Sometimes you need a certain amount of braggadocio in your leaders."
OK, we'll grant that Bush has more than his fair share of braggadocio, which the dictionary defines unflatteringly: "empty or pretentious bragging; a swaggering, cocky manner."
But is that really the definition of an outstanding wartime leader? Does that sound like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill? Or more like Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden?
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) said: "People were wondering if Bush was up to it. I think he's answered that. The guy has really impressed people. One of the real strengths of this administration is that people do feel comfortable about Colin Powell and Dick Cheney in particular."
We'll also grant that Colin Powell is doing a fine job. Unfortunately, Powell's biggest challenge is trying to keep the Pentagon superhawks like Paul Wolfowitz - another less-popular Bush appointee - from unleashing nuclear weapons and widening the war to Iraq, Syria, and the entire Middle East. Such reckless and dangerous warmongers would not be part of a Gore administration.
As for Cheney, his biggest challenge is to send Bush out for enough photo ops to convince the world that Bush, not Cheney, is really running the country. Unfortunately, every time Cheney makes a public appearance of his own, he proves that he is the one with the brains, while Bush's primary asset is his "swaggering, cocky manner."
So what would it be like if Al Gore, not George W. Bush, was President? Here are the top 10 differences between a Gore Presidency and a Bush Presidency.
- Al Gore would be in charge. On September 11, he would have stopped reading his children's book and flown directly back to the White House - not meandering through Louisiana and Nebraska because his Vice President wanted to keep him away from the meetings where crisis decisions were being made. Al Gore would be calling the shots.
- Al Gore would be making important decisions by drawing on a lifetime of foreign policy experience. Al Gore would not need on-the-job training and daily tutorials from his National Security Advisor, in between naps and jogs on the treadmill. Al Gore would also be making wiser decisions. He would not trade off long-term dangers - like turning a blind eye to nuclear proliferation in Pakistan and India, which could lead to a nuclear war - for short-term gains.
- Al Gore would be a proud Commander-in-Chief, not someone hiding his shameful military record. Al Gore volunteered for the Army during the Vietnam War, and served his full tour of duty, including six months in Vietnam. George W. Bush used his family connections to become a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, and after $1 million in training, flew for only 2 years before mysteriously being grounded - and going AWOL.
- Al Gore would be speaking to the American people. He would not have waited for two days to properly address the nation. He would not have read platitudes off a TelePrompTer. He would not have hid behind Ari Fleischer. He would not have waited a month for a prime time press conference to repeat those platitudes in response to a half-dozen questions. He would have spoken intelligently and thoughtfully about the problems America faces. He would have answered as many questions as Americans wanted to ask. He would be like Rudy Giuliani - only better.
- Al Gore would be truly uniting the nation. He would not be abusing the unprecedent national unity to promote an unpopular far-right ideological agenda - missile defense, fast track trade authority, and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He would focus exclusively on the enormous challenge facing the nation, and stand up to any member of his party who tried to undermine national unity for ideological purposes.
- Al Gore would not be waging class warfare from above. He would not be sending the children of working families to fight and die, while passing unconscionable tax giveaways to the rich. He would be fighting for full unemployment benefits for the millions affected by the recession, which is not only the correct moral policy - but also the wise economic policy. He would support an appropriate short-term stimulus, but not a tax giveaway that would devastate the federal budget for a decade.
- Al Gore would be addressing the big issue which underlies this war - namely, American dependence on Middle East oil. The Bush-Cheney administration represents the big oil companies, and has put its full power behind the cause of maintaining - not reducing - U.S. dependency on oil and fossil fuels. Al Gore would be fighting for higher auto fuel economy standards and more energy efficient appliances, not blocking them as the Bush-Cheney administration is doing.
- Al Gore would not be publicly battling with Israel. With the help of Joe Lieberman, Gore would be working constructively with Israel to improve Israel's security while making progress towards a Palestinian state that would not threaten Israel. Gore would not be holding back on criticising terrorist-coddling countries like Saudi Arabia, which have allowed millions of dollars to flow to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
- Al Gore would be truly able to champion the principles that America is fighting for - freedom and democracy. George W. Bush cannot speak about Democracy without lying, because he didn't win the Presidency. Rather, Bush stole the Presidency by preventing 175,000 votes from being counted, with the help of his brother Jeb, his campaign co-chair Katherine Harris and a partisan Republican majority of the Supreme Court. Al Gore won the election nationally by 540,000, and if Florida's own laws on ballot counting had been followed, Gore won Florida as well.
- Al Gore would not be flip-flopping on key policies relating to fighting terrorism. Gore also supports "nation-building," which Bush acknowledges will eventually be necessary in Afghanistan - but wants to foist off onto the United Nations. Also, the Gore Commission called for increased airline security, including making baggage screeners into dedicated public servants like police and firefighters, rather than minimum-wage temps. George W. Bush remains unwilling to stand up to the right wing of his party, which vehemently opposes expanding the federal workforce, regardless of the cost to American security.
In fact, a strong case can be made that Al Gore might have even PREVENTED the terrorist attack on September 11.
- President Gore might have strengthened airline security, following the advice of his own commission's report on that topic. This might have prevented terrorists with boxcutters from boarding the planes in the first place, or from gaining access to the cockpits.
- President Gore might have implemented the report of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, better known as Hart-Rudman Commission, rather than asking Dick Cheney to duplicate its work.
- President Gore might have paid closer attention to the warnings received from foreign intelligence sources. President Gore would not have been on a month's vacation while such warnings were stacking up.
- President Gore might have implemented tougher money laundering rules that would have detected the payments between Al Qaeda and the hijackers.
- President Gore might have lessend foreign anger at the U.S. by endorsing treaties on the environment, weapons, and money laundering, rather than sabotaging them. He might have found a way for the U.S. to engage the world at the U.N. Conference on Racism, rather than boycotting it.
- President Gore might have lessened anger among Arabs and Muslims by continuing President Clinton's vigorous efforts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and might even have reached a final agreement.
So let's ask the question: Are Democrats glad that George W. Bush is in the White House, rather than Al Gore?
Not THIS Democrat!
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