Readers respond to "Al, We Hardly Knew Ye" by Kerry Lauerman.

Published December 18, 2002 12:12AM (EST)

[Read "Al, We Hardly Knew Ye" by Kerry Lauerman.]

There's a curious passage in Kerry Lauerman's description of Al Gore's "Saturday Night Live" appearance that reads, "Certainly Gore was unfairly savaged sometimes, but that never made him a saint. He tried to manipulate the media as much as anybody; he was just really bad at it."

It's interesting in the way it acknowledges that the media has been unfair to Gore and yet blames Gore himself for that. It's not the media's fault that it reported lies about Gore as though they were fact, you see, or that it gave Republican talking points legitimacy in the political zeitgeist, as Gore has pointed out. No, it's Gore's fault for failing to manipulate the media as well as the Bush team did.

It's an odd defense, to more or less admit a willingness to be manipulated and to substitute a judgment about who's the better manipulator in place of a concern for accuracy. It's like hearing the sycophants for the school bully blame the nerds for their own torment because they're just so darn nerdy.

It's a shame to see that even editors for relatively smart publications like Salon get caught up in the "who's cool" approach to political reporting that's helping to reduce popular interest in the political process.

-- Jake Widman

It's truly weird, you know, the way the Gore story has been spun and spin-dried to a fare-thee-well. Ron Fournier of the AP says, once again, what the elites in the Democratic Party have been saying since the fraudulent election that wasn't: It was all Gore's fault, and "Democrats" didn't want him around anymore.

Please understand, I was only lukewarm for Gore anyway. But how easily the elites and insiders disregard the facts: Gore remained the most popular Democratic hopeful. Gore was one of the only Democrats to fight Bush on the war on terror and the economy. Gore was the first Democrat to actually possess the cojones to call for Lott's resignation or censure -- and that's what started the ball rolling, not one of the other blow-dried, pusillanimous candidates from what remains my party.

OK, Democratic elites, you got what you wanted. I suspect the only race that Gore was losing was the fund-raising. Now let's see what you can do.

-- Jim Hassinger

Can we now finally agree that Al Gore is a classy guy? He has done nothing but what he thought was best for the country over the course of his career, and I think his final political act will be viewed as the most selfless of all of his selfless political moves. He could have remained a public figure in the immediate aftermath of the 2000 election. He could have tried to divide the nation even further than it already was. But he stepped back and let the country heal from a difficult time, even though it wasn't in his personal best interest to do so. And now, he believes that a Democrat in the White House is the best thing for the country and understands that he might not be the best person to get there, no matter how badly he wants to and how close he would come if he did run again.

He's stepping back because he cares more about the health of our country than his own political ambitions. Don't we need more people in office like him?

-- Michael Considine

Mr. Gore's fate really was his own fault. As a serious and ethical man, he inevitably attracted the implacable hatred of the shallow and the venal -- which included, of course, the majority of talking heads. Recall what Nietzsche said: "It isn't the presumption of merit that offends, but merit itself."

-- Jim Harrison

When will America wake up and realize that in the year 2000 a candidate was assassinated by words and images? Sound bites, like bullets, hit their mark. Al Gore was always the better man.

-- Leon W. Fainstadt

When Al Gore was picked in 1992 to be Bill Clinton's running mate, he was known as one of the cleanest, most ethical men in the Senate, a fitting son to follow his equally honorable father.

Ten years of increasingly nasty GOP-sponsored media coverage later (much of which can be traced to the extremely stinky deal Newt Gingrich cut with Rupert Murdoch that made Fox News possible), Gore, next to Bill Clinton himself, bids fair to be the most slandered politician of modern history.

As the media watchdog site DailyHowler.com has repeatedly shown for years, virtually everything that is considered common knowledge about Al Gore is a lie or a horribly twisted quarter-truth whose origins can be traced straight to the Republican National Committee. "Invented the Internet," "Love Story," "Buddhist Temple 'fundraiser'" -- all of these myths were funneled to a media willing and eager to recite the GOP's talking points, even as they refused to seriously examine the many genuine scandals surrounding George W. Bush or his brother Jeb.

Gore's being forced out of the 2004 race is a bad sign for our democracy. It gives the GOP media the knowledge that they rule supreme, and that the public's refusal to follow their lead by rejecting Clinton in 1998 and 1999 was but a mere aberration in the political landscape.

Let's not kid ourselves here. Gore was the only one of the Democrats who had a fighting chance against the GOP's mighty Wurlitzer of a spin machine, simply because he acknowledged its existence and was determined to work his way around it. Any Democrat now running for president who thinks that the media's dislike for Gore was based on anything other than pure partisanship will soon find out, the hard way, that the GOP media will slime to death anyone who doesn't have an "R" after their name.

-- Tamara Baker

Say whatever you want about the man, I feel his announcement Sunday was the most courageous statement made in modern American politics. Here is an individual who won the popular vote in 2000 -- a man of the people -- placing the needs of the country ahead of his personal ambition.

It is more than we can say for the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

-- Robert Grenader

By Salon Staff

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