The agony of Al Gore

By Joan Walsh

Topics: 2000 Elections, Joan Walsh, Al Gore

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The American people, evenly split over two uninspiring candidates, are desperate for one wise, patriotic statesman to step forward. What we get instead are the bickering forces of two weak dauphins. At the center of the controversy are candidates who look straight out of the Wax Museum, neither of whom can speak to the people without the aid of a teleprompter. Gore should have been able to muster some righteous anger and indignation at the shady dealings down in Florida. Why is the secretary of state able to rule on these matters when she is campaign co-chair for one of the candidates? With no fire in his belly, perhaps Gore is not the best man to face the coming years of struggle and debate.

– Megan O’Hara

Unfortunately, for months the Bush campaign has been crudely mangling the truth, and the mainstream media has conspired to allow the drumbeat of falsehoods. Now the Republicans are accustomed to living in a make-believe world where “It’s so because I say so.” This delusional habit will be difficult to break when the Democrats lack an effective spokesperson and the media lack the courage to insist on the truth.

– Frank Bowden

I can distill your failure to appreciate Al Gore’s awkward but earnest speech Monday night down to four words: He’s no Bill Clinton.

Nor should we want him to be. I am just as appreciative of Clinton’s political and personal charisma as the Republicans are fearful of it. But why should anyone expect Al Gore to be Clintonesque, in either the positive or negative aspects of the adjective?

Al Gore is Al Gore. He’s handling this situation with dignity that is sorely lacking elsewhere. I voted for him without enthusiasm, but I am pulling for him now with real admiration. He is a perfect example of grace under fire, and nothing he’s done in the past eight years has been so convincing of his fitness for the office he seeks.

As for Clinton, he wasn’t always Bill Clinton either. He’s grown into the presidency, and I believe Al Gore will, too. Conversely, I have a hard time picturing George W. Bush growing into long pants.

– Dana Parker



Memo to Joan Walsh: Gore’s cadences are not the product of “over-calculation.” They are straight from the upscale liberal Baptism of Vanderbilt Divinity School, where Gore studied in the 1970s. Walk into most any upscale white Baptist church and his are the cadences you will hear coming out of the preacher’s mouth. Walsh is, like most modern progressives, not exactly familiar with the inside of a Baptist church, but she sure resonated (as did most Americans) to Clinton’s own down-home black Baptist church-influenced speechifying.

Too bad that an alleged intellectual like Walsh couldn’t get past her snooty disdain for the packaging and hear the message. (Intellectuals are supposed to be able to see the meat and ignore the trimmings, you know.) I thought — and so did my husband, who is not a Gore supporter — that Gore’s speech Monday night was extremely good and one of the best (if not the best) he has ever given.

– Tamara Baker

Joan Walsh wishes Al Gore could have “said a single unrehearsed, from the heart, spontaneous, risky, convincing thing.” That’s like asking an apple tree to bear oranges.

– Tracy McLellan

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