Covering Al Gore
Al Gore recently made a major foreign policy speech in San Francisco. The elite media portrayed it as the most forceful critique to date of President Bush’s conduct of the war on terrorism and intentions toward Iraq. The New York Times said that Gore’s speech gave voice to concerns expressed privately by many Democrats. Given the significance attributed to the speech, the Times and others omitted a few major details in their coverage of Gore’s appearance.
That coverage focused on three themes. Gore alleged that Bush’s focus on Iraq is distracting America from the war on terrorism and that his administration has squandered all the international support the U.S. enjoyed after nine/eleven by its emphasis on Iraq. He said it was playing politics with the war issue during the run-up to the November election, and in a front-page synopsis of its story, the Times highlighted Gore’s allegation that Bush is trying to please the far right-wing of his party.
East Coast reporters did not report that Gore had made a harsh, bitter, and highly partisan attack on President Bush personally, his conduct of the war on terrorism and his foreign policy in general. Alternately deadly serious and heavily sarcastic, Gore piously noted that he had not suggested that the administration was playing politics with the war issue, but he claimed that "many have." He depicted the President as feckless and even "un-American" at one point.
The inventor of the Internet couldn’t resist telling some new whoppers. He charged Bush with abandoning the war on terrorism while the "vast majority" of its sponsors, plotters, and implementers are still at large. Michael Kelly, in a Washington Post op-ed column, reminded Gore that the implementers perished in the crashes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania on nine/eleven. Many others have been killed by U.S. forces or rounded up in the aftermath of the successful ninety-day combat campaign in Afghanistan.
Gore criticized his predecessors for abandoning Afghanistan after the Soviets were expelled in 1989. He did not mention the fact that he and Bill Clinton occupied the White House for most of the decade after the Soviet defeat. Gore claimed that he felt betrayed by the "Bush administration’s hasty departure from the battlefield" after the Gulf war. Fox News promptly ran a quote from a Gore 1991 Senate speech lauding Bush’s father for complying with the U.N. mandate that called only for driving Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
Gore charged that after a quick victory, the Bush administration would abandon Iraq, just as it has Afghanistan, leaving Saddam’s chemical and biological weapons scattered around the countryside for terrorists to pick up. He apparently assumed that the Secretary of Defense hadn’t thought of that. The Times reported that Gore had consulted widely before writing the speech. Most notably, it said he sought the advice of Rob Reiner, a Hollywood actor better known for his role as "Meathead" in All in the Family than as a wise political adviser.
Reed Irvine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org