Why is this race even close?

Joan Walsh and Andrew Sullivan come to (mostly) different conclusions.


Letters to the Editor
November 8, 2000 1:59AM (UTC)

Read Joan Walsh's story

Read Andrew Sullivan's story

I agree with Joan Walsh's assessment of the Gore campaign, Bush's underestimated skill as a campaigner and the left's self-destructive ("We must destroy the village in order to save it") vision of the future. I think one additional point deserves emphasis. The media has consistently drubbed Gore at every turn. Since the conventions, Gore has been set upon by a media determined to vilify him for every misstep, to the exclusion of his discussions of policy and principle. At the same time, the media has given Bush a virtually free ride.

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Sure, Gore could have been a better campaigner, but when the media is hounding the issues off the front page with discussions of Gore's exaggerations (which we now learn were mostly either not exaggerations or misquotes by the press), and simultaneously ignoring Bush's whoppers, it's no wonder Gore has had trouble getting his message out. The third leg of the anti-Gore stool has been the media, and we can only wonder what the poll numbers would look like if Bush had gotten the Gore treatment over the last few months.

-- Christopher Barnes

I would like to thank Joan Walsh for her insightful and articulate analysis of the obstacles Gore has faced in this campaign. For months I have struggled to understand how anyone could vote for Bush -- he so blatantly avoids putting forth any real policy plans in favor of meaningless platitudes and that charming (or smarmy, depending on your perspective) "good ol' boys" smile. While he has by default the votes of the die-hard pro-lifers and the white Republican elite, who else could possibly be voting for this vacuous party boy? Walsh's article has helped me make sense of this bewildering election. Even if (God forbid) Gore does lose, at least I'll now understand why.

-- Elisa Rassen

I wish to comment on Joan Walsh's contribution. It is quite revealing that in their hysterical attacks on Ralph Nader's supporters, Gore supporters always resort to tired stereotypes and juvenile name-calling (e.g., "litmus-testing on issues from hemp to veganism" or "poor dumb Greens"). They seem to believe they are somehow entitled to my vote, and pout like spoiled brats when they don't get it.

But no one is entitled to my vote, and I am tired of voting against someone election after election. I know all the reasons to vote against Bush (I live in Texas, after all), but Al Gore has had two years to give me one good reason to vote for him, and he has failed. The Democrats have nominated an unappealing candidate with virtually nothing positive to offer people like me. Gore supporters need to accept that in a more mature fashion.

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Oh, and I don't think I am the one who "fundamentally misunderstands American politics." One of the most fundamental rules of American politics is that you don't win supporters to your cause by hurling childish insults at them.

-- Brian Evans

I have great respect for Andrew Sullivan's thoughtful endorsement of Bush. Unfortunately it is also a courageous one, given how much venom for the Republicans his colleagues on the left have. Sullivan pointed to what in my mind is the most pressing problem in the United States -- not education or Social Security, though they loom very large, but identity politics and the sense of victimhood and group entitlement that the Democratic Party has cynically fostered and built a dynasty upon. If disparate groups cannot attempt to persuade one another toward a higher good, there is no sense in working on economic and healthcare problems because the whole ball of wax will simply disintegrate into hate and violence. How sad that would be for everyone.

-- Vincent Basehart

Dubya says he brings people together, and I must say, he's done it. I never thought I, a Catholic social conservative, would be agreeing with Andrew Sullivan. Stop making sense! You're threatening my preconceptions.

-- Terrye Newkirk

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As a Latino woman, mother, grandmother and parent to a gay daughter, I find it hard to imagine that Sullivan has turned his back on an administration that has at least attempted to address the AIDS issue, gay rights, the environment and a myriad of social issues. Sullivan is a smart young man, but perhaps too young to know what Ronald Reagan did to California when he was governor and then the rest of the country as president. Bush on his own is a harmless, ignorant frat boy. It's the DeLays, Lotts and Cheneys of the world who will make the decisions that frighten me. As Harry Truman once said of the Republicans: How many times do you have to get hit over the head before you realize who's hitting you?

-- Marta Cooper

Is Sullivan joking? To assert that George W. Bush is not dumber than John F. Kennedy is an insult to anyone who ever heard Kennedy speak or ever saw him in person (as I did in the 1960 campaign). The quick wit, the friendly, smiling charm and the ability to eloquently express a vision of hope and a grander purpose for the common citizen were qualities that belied his deeper quantitative and qualitative grasp of the gravity of the grand purpose of the high position he was seeking.

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I've seen and heard Kennedy; I grew up seeing him in action.

George W. Bush should never even be mentioned in the same sentence as John F. Kennedy.

-- R. Williams

I have two words for Andrew Sullivan, two words so conspicuously absent from his article in support of Bush: Supreme Court.

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Even if all else Sullivan says is true, it's hard to believe he can choose to ignore the influence that a right-majority court could have on gay rights over the next few decades. If he is not afraid of a Bush-influenced Supreme Court, he certainly should be.

But as for Bush being smarter than Gore, I guess this is as good an example as any. After all, he's been able to completely pull the wool over the eyes of some really smart people -- like Andrew Sullivan.

-- Richard Klein


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Al Gore George W. Bush Joan Walsh

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