September 14, 2006

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President Al Gore

In today's Standard, Professor Michael DeGolyer is inspired by Al Gore's visit to the Big Lychee into a flight of fantasy:

George W Bush described his war as the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, the calling of our generation. Prospects for peace during the remaining 94 years of this century appear bleak.
That's an incredibly bold assertion. Prospects for a peaceful century were looking pretty high in 1900, and look what happened in that century. Who's to say a century that begins in way need end that way too?
I can't help wondering how different things might be if the Supreme Court had decided since more voters nationally preferred Gore over Bush, the essentially tied, hopelessly confused vote in Florida would be set aside for the clearly expressed will of the majority of Americans. But democracy in the sense of the will of the majority was trumped by something a majority of five justices considered more important than the votes of the majority of voters...If Americans could have directly elected their president by majority vote of all citizens in 2000, things would be different today.

But we may see such a democratic direct election of our chief executive before they will.

America has one of the longest running and most robust democracies in the world. The very same system that the Professor implies "robbed" Al Gore of victory is the same one that's been in place for more than 200 years. The rules are well established and strike a balance between majority rule and preserving states rights. They prevent the smaller states being completely railroaded by a few big, populous states. It may not be perfect, but no system is. It is works and everyone accepts it. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter and it decided in George W's favour after Gore and Bush both hired the best lawyers in the land to argue the toss. While what happened in Florida was a debacle, the aftermath was in fact beautiful to watch - the system working. By way of comparison, take a look at Mexico at the moment. Furthermore, if majority of votes decided elections in the US, then Bill Clinton wouldn't have won the first time round thanks to Ross Perot. Can't have it both ways, Professor.

But wait, there's more:

How might a Gore administration have reacted to September 11? Repeatedly, Bush has spurned principles and policies previous presidents followed only again and again to be forced back to adopting them. Bush denounced the United Nations and spurned the very notion of nation- building. The principle of mutual security, invented by President Woodrow Wilson after one world war and embodied in the UN by President Franklin Roosevelt after a second, was the mainstay of American foreign policy until Bush declared a unilateral right to declare pre-emptive war.

Nation-building - helping poor developing countries to strengthen their governmental and economic institutions and infrastructures and which is one of the UN's key functions - Bush ridiculed as not his thing. He ended up pleading for UN help when his Iraq war ground down US armed forces. He has spent more by far on nation-building than any previous president.

Gore would not have spurned the Kyoto Accords. Only recently has the Bush administration even acknowledged global warming as fact. They still dispute humans are causing it.

Journalist James Fallows of The Atlantic magazine argues that the real strategic threat from al-Qaeda is its ability to provoke us toward actions that hurt us in the long run, such as Iraq.

Gore, who witnessed the Vietnam War as a journalist and knew the lessons of a century of American foreign policy, would never have plunged the world into an open-ended war. He would never have unilaterally invaded Iraq.

Bush's prosecution of the war in Iraq has been a mess and incomptent. But how can the Professor speculate what a President Gore would have done in similar circumstances? Has he got a crystal ball (and if so can I borrow it for tonight's Mark 6 draw)? How is Iraqn an open-ended war? All the talk, especially from the left, is about withdrawal from Iraq. Even Bush has a timetable to get out. That doesn't sound very open-ended. As for "unilateral invasion", the good Professor should really do some research: "The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, Italy and Poland supplied the vast majority of the invading forces, in co-operation with Kurdish forces. Many others supplied smaller troop contributions. Other nations also participated in part of a coalition force to help with the operation by providing equipment, services and security as well as Special Forces." Not very unilateral at all, then.

Sorry Professor, but this one gets a fail.

posted by Simon on 09.14.06 at 08:48 AM in the World category.


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Simon, I quite agree it is hard to say what a President Gore might have done. But I do enjoy thinking about how, contrary to popular belief, America and the World might have not declared an endless war on terror in the wake of 9/11 and also invaded what has since proven to be an unrelated country for that reason.

It is important to remember that the War on Terror as prosecuted by Bush was not an inevitable consequence of 9/11, if only because we need to find a way to undo the damage done to so many relationships between civilizations since that time (not all of which are due to Bush, of course). We can't turn back the clock, but I think it's always good to remember there are many ways to approach seemingly intractable problems.

I'm trying to get through this comment without my usual vitriol for we can save details for another time!:)

posted by: HK Dave on 09.14.06 at 06:30 PM [permalink]

I doubt Gore would have attacked Afghanistan, much less Iraq. Perhaps he would have sighed heavily at them. Bush did not steal the election in 2000, unless the Supreme Court can steal an election. Wars on abstract nouns never work. Invading Iraq made no sense. Bush will edge out Harding as the worst president in US history.

Ok, done.

posted by: 88 on 09.15.06 at 02:01 AM [permalink]

"If Americans could have directly elected their president by majority vote of all citizens in 2000, things would be different today."

You made some great points on why we have the electoral college, but it's also important to note that, under the rule of law, it would not acceptable for the Supreme Court to change the rules AFTER the race had been run. Both candidates planned their strategies given the current laws. It's one thing to say that we should go through the established process to change the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College, and it's quite another to say that the Supreme Court should wait until the election is over and then decide whether or not to change the rules in order to 'improve' on the choices of the voters.

And this part is sheer nonsense:

"Gore would not have spurned the Kyoto Accords."

What exactly would Gore have done? Under Clinton, the Senate voted 96 to 0 against ratifying the Kyoto treaty. Clinton negotiated a deal that he knew had no chance of being approved in the US, and he never even really tried to get it through. It was pure show, to make it look like he cared. "I feel your warmth."

Think about that vote: 96 to nothing, under Clinton! If Slick Willie couldn't get it through, how could Gore? If Clinton had genuinely wanted to get somewhere on the issue, he would have negotiated a treaty that could be approved, and then he would have fought for it. He didn't, and if Gore had been President, he would have been stuck with Clinton's window-dressing.

posted by: Ann on 09.15.06 at 03:32 AM [permalink]

Global warming is another liberal lie, Thank GOD for president Bush, the BEST PRESIDENT IN US HISTERY!!! SLICK WILLIE THE WORST US PRESIDENT!!!!!!!

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