You go, Gore! Tell George W. what’s really going on
What a pleasant surprise to pick up The New York Times on Aug. 8 and find a story about Al Gore, our former vice president, giving a speech at New York University.
It was a pleasant surprise as I had assumed that good old Al was probably rotting away in Guantanamo Bay. We haven’t heard from him in a long time, so it wasn’t outrageous to figure that he had been banished to that international jail established in Cuba by Herr Ashcroft, our attorney general.
In Ashcroft’s bizarre view of the world, Gore may have been seen as some sort of national threat. He did, after all, have the nerve not only to run against George W., our compassionate, cross-dressing warrior president in 2000, but he also garnered 540,000 more popular votes than his opponent. Everyone must remember the vote-counting fiasco in Florida; the Supreme Court finally decided in George W.’s favor and he won by receiving Florida’s 25 electoral votes.
If it not had been for Florida, we might have been able to watch Al strut around in military clothing, which is not an easy vision to conjure up without being subjected to a fit of giggling. This business of “playing soldier” seems to come quite naturally to George W., but Gore … no, I can’t quite see him playing that game. He might enjoy appearing in public as a computer nerd, but I don’t believe he would look quite right with an automatic weapon cradled in his arms.
Ironic, isn’t it, that when Ronald Reagan was running for president his staff was trying to smooth over his “cowboy” image, and then along comes our current president, one who speaks quite highly of Reagan and who is doing his best to create a “cowboy” image. George W. really does work hard at trying to be a regular guy who shoots from the hip but is a straight talker. For a not exceptionally bright rich kid, his cowboy image just doesn’t quite come across.
George W. enjoys tossing little regionalisms into his press conferences and speeches, things such as “bring them back dead or alive” and “bring ’em on!” Apparently he sees that as “good ol’ boy” talk, something that enhances his image as being a cowboy as opposed to being a member of the privileged class, which is what he is. In Montana or Wyoming, the two states in which I was raised, someone such as George W. would be seen as a “drugstore cowboy” and that is not to be considered high praise.
If our president were to step back a moment, he might realize that the cowboy image is not necessarily always a positive one; it is not all Gene Autry and Tom Mix and Roy Rogers. In other words, it is not all about straight-talking and straight-shooting heroes who protect the downtrodden and then ride off asking nothing for themselves. To be seen as a “cowboy” is to be seen also as an individual who is reckless, arrogant, irresponsible and not necessarily all that bright. George W. might want to rethink his cowboy-image program.
At any rate, it was good to see Gore back in the news if for no other reason than he seems unafraid of the “traitor” label Republicans willingly apply to any Democrat who has had the nerve to vigorously speak out against George W.’s war on Iraq.
Gore was sharply critical of the administration’s record in his New York speech, accusing George W. and his associates of promoting “false impressions” about the need for the United States to go to war in Iraq. “False impressions”! I love that! What a wonderful euphemism for “bullshit,” which is what the administration apparently was tossing at us as it attempted to invent more and more reasons to go to war. All those horrible dangers the world was about to face, by the by, have yet to materialize.
It wasn’t enough that George W. warned us of the most hideous of weapons, such as chemical and biological and finally the big one, the nuclear weapon. Our cowboy leader decided to throw in al-Qaeda and its vile terrorist network and the links it supposedly had with the evil leader in Iraq, Saddam.
We now own Iraq, more or less, and so far none of George W.’s weapons of mass destruction have been found. The same could be said for links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, links the administration claim existed and somehow further justified our bombing a third-rate nation.
In December, Gore announced that he would not be a candidate in this election. Perhaps that has given the former vice president the freedom to speak out freely about the current administration without fear of being charged by right-wing Republicans with being unpatriotic. Since September 11, any criticism of our beloved leader has been greeted by the right with charges that such outbursts are “unpatriotic.” The truth is that individuals who speak out against their government in a free society, which, we are told, is what the United States of America is, are doing precisely what they should be doing in order to ensure their freedoms.
At any rate, it was refreshing to hear Gore, to hear a voice of authority finally challenging some of the conduct of George W. and his administration. Perhaps his speech will ignite a fire under other Democrats – Democrats who so far have been cowering in dark corners.
This is the 292nd article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where speaking out is considered the proper thing to do.
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