Kilroy Was Here
December 12, 2003
A Candidate for the Daily Howler
Bill Saletan is mad at Al Gore. Really, really mad. So mad, that his emotions overtook him, and, in Tuesday's article, Saletan misattributes Al Gore's comments about the vote counting process in Florida to try and make Gore sound like a hypocrite when he endorsed Dean. An apples and oranges comparison that's not worthy of good journalism.
Today, Saletan has had some time to settle down. "It's not Gore's endorsement is wrong per se," Saletan says, "It's Gore's presumption that the election is over before the first vote is cast."
But the fact that Gore is endorsing Dean, and campaigning for him, shows just the opposite. Gore doesn't believe that the election is over; he believes it's just beginning. "Democracy is a team sport," Gore began when he endorsed Dean. "And I want to do everything I can to convince the -- anybody that is interested in my judgment about who, among these candidates has the best chance to win and the best chance to lead our country in the right direction."
Does Gore claim that he's rendered his judgment so everyone can call off the Iowa and New Hampshire elections? Of course not. In fact, Gore traveled with Dean most of the day, giving stump speeches to voters. Is this a man who believes that his endorsement 'ended an election before it began'? Of course not. These are the actions of man who embraces the democratic process and wants to participate in it.
Saletan is still very very mad though. As the previous candidate for president, Gore has a sacred duty to 'uphold tradition,' and not endorse someone. But at what cost should this tradition be upheld? If Gore thought this was a normal election year, he probably would uphold that tradition Saletan finds so sacred. But Gore does not think is a normal election year.
In speech after speech, Gore has consistently stated that this administration's actions are not only bad policy, but also undermining the very values of our Republic, threatening our democracy. As such, Gore thinks that it's time to abandon such niceties as tradition.
"[T]o the extent that we can recognize the stakes in America today," Gore stated, "I would urge all of the other candidates and campaigns to keep their eyes on the prize.... This nation cannot afford to have four more years of a Bush-Cheney administration. We can't afford to be divided among ourselves to the point that we lose sight of how important it is for America. What is going on in this Bush White House today is bad for our country. And it's slowly beginning to sink into more and more people out there."
So what would Saletan have Gore do? Should Gore 'uphold tradition' and stay silent on his beliefs, or should Gore uphold what he believes is his duty to his party and his country and do what he can to help defeat this administration?
What Gore does is something politically courageous. He leads. He knows that a field of nine candidates can waste it's time, energy, and treasure tearing each other apart while Bush and Rove grin in the White House In any other election, this might be bad for the party. But in this election, Gore has made it amply clear that he believes it will be bad for the country.
So Gore opens up himself to these shallow attacks by so-called pundits to try and convince others to elect who he thinks has the best chance against Bush. Why? Because Gore is 'keeping his eyes on the prize'. According to what Gore has said, this country is in danger from the very people who are running it. Democrats need to join together to do whatever they can to defeat that administration.
As leader of the party, there is no one more qualified to remind his fellow Democrats of that. If Gore truly believes that these are extraordinary times, as leader of the party, Gore *should* remind his fellow Democrats of that.
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