Friday, December 09, 2005

Why I hope Al Gore is our next President

In 1988 when I was first aware of Al Gore he seemed young, but there was something special about him as a candidate. When he spoke you could tell that he cared about the things he was talking about, that he was knowledgable about his subject and that being knowledgable was also important to him.

Here are the things I know about Gore...

Cross posted at dkos
Cross posted at PoliticalTheaterBlog


He is dedicated to the environment:

There are scientific warnings now of another onrushing catastrophe. We were warned of an imminent attack by Al Qaeda; we didn't respond. We were warned the levees would break in New Orleans; we didn't respond. Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. A scientist at MIT has published a study well before this tragedy showing that since the 1970s, hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific have increased in duration, and in intensity, by about 50 %. The newscasters told us after Hurricane Katrina went over the southern tip of Florida that there was a particular danger for the Gulf Coast of the hurricanes becoming much stronger because it was passing over unusually warm waters in the gulf. The waters in the gulf have been unusually warm. The oceans generally have been getting warmer. And the pattern is exactly consistent with what scientists have predicted for twenty years. Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming. [applause] It is important to learn the lessons of what happens when scientific evidence and clear authoritative warnings are ignored in order to induce our leaders not to do it again and not to ignore the scientists again and not to leave us unprotected in the face of those threats that are facing us right now. [applause]
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He is not afraid to criticize Bush or republican policy:

The direction in which our nation is being led is deeply troubling to me -- not only in Iraq but also here at home on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk. And they want to set it right.

The way we went to war in Iraq illustrates this larger problem. Normally, we Americans lay the facts on the table, talk through the choices before us and make a decision. But that didn't really happen with this war -- not the way it should have. And as a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price, for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments, and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm's way.

I'm convinced that one of the reasons that we didn't have a better public debate before the Iraq War started is because so many of the impressions that the majority of the country had back then turn out to have been completely wrong. Leaving aside for the moment the question of how these false impressions got into the public's mind, it might be healthy to take a hard look at the ones we now know were wrong and clear the air so that we can better see exactly where we are now and what changes might need to be made.

In any case, what we now know to have been false impressions include the following:

(1) Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for the attack against us on September 11th, 2001, so a good way to respond to that attack would be to invade his country and forcibly remove him from power.

(2) Saddam was working closely with Osama Bin Laden and was actively supporting members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group, giving them weapons and money and bases and training, so launching a war against Iraq would be a good way to stop Al Qaeda from attacking us again.

(3) Saddam was about to give the terrorists poison gas and deadly germs that he had made into weapons which they could use to kill millions of Americans. Therefore common sense alone dictated that we should send our military into Iraq in order to protect our loved ones and ourselves against a grave threat.

(4) Saddam was on the verge of building nuclear bombs and giving them to the terrorists. And since the only thing preventing Saddam from acquiring a nuclear arsenal was access to enriched uranium, once our spies found out that he had bought the enrichment technology he needed and was actively trying to buy uranium from Africa, we had very little time left. Therefore it seemed imperative during last Fall's election campaign to set aside less urgent issues like the economy and instead focus on the congressional resolution approving war against Iraq.

(5) Our GI's would be welcomed with open arms by cheering Iraqis who would help them quickly establish public safety, free markets and Representative Democracy, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US soldiers would get bogged down in a guerrilla war.

(6) Even though the rest of the world was mostly opposed to the war, they would quickly fall in line after we won and then contribute lots of money and soldiers to help out, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US taxpayers would get stuck with a huge bill.

Now, of course, everybody knows that every single one of these impressions was just dead wrong.

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He is a man of faith but a real one who believes that we should value diversity and strengthen all families:

Two reviews of his and Tipper's book JOINED AT THE HEART :

From Publishers Weekly:

"For us, as for most Americans," write the former vice-president and his wife, "family is our bedrock, and we believe the strength of the American family is the nation's bedrock." But the American family has changed substantially in the last half century and so have the cultural and economic conditions under which it exists. The families the Gores have encountered in a decade of research reflect these changes: one couple has children from the husband's three different relationships, a gay white couple adopts two black children, a single mother struggles with poverty. The couple add stories from their own marriage and consult with historians, sociologists, psychologists and educators, giving the American family the same comprehensive treatment Al's Earth in the Balance gave the environment. Al and Tipper examine subjects as diverse as the increased divorce rate, the parent-teen gap, dual-income households and the health problems associated with sleep deprivation. They divide the book into themes, including love, communication, work, play and community, and show how these factors influence one another, taking a holistic approach to the underlying problems affecting today's families. Yet although they declare America should "provide every possible support to those most important to us," they make very few firm recommendations on government policy; those reading with an eye toward identifying planks in another Gore presidential campaign will have their work cut out for them. "

Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

"Coauthoring this very readable work, the Gores affirm their respect and support for culturally and structurally variant American families, loving individuals committed to each other's welfare. Based on personal experiences and interviews with others in traditional and nontraditional relationships, the authors offer a sampling of caring individuals struggling to balance family, work, play, and community to support one another, adults and children, together with the future of this country. The Gores relate these families' experiences to the environments in which they live, offering a critique of the social programs needed to support successful family life: affordable shelter, reliable and competent child care, pre- and post-school time supervised activities, employee family-leave provisions, well-run community facilities, and services for all age levels. They argue that it is increasingly critical to maintain and grow our country's various sources of "social capital," to understand and support families, the too often unacknowledged vital units of our American society. This convincing, multiresourced work is recommended for public and academic library purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/02; also released this November is The Spirit of the Family, a photography book edited by the Gores.-Ed.]-Suzanne W. Wood, formerly with SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfre."

--Suzanne W. Wood, formerly with SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfred
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Yes while he is a brilliant policy wonk he is also very funny:

The veep's playful antics are particularly legendary among staff members. On one flight home after a trip to the former Soviet Union, Gore ambled back through the staff section and came across his national security adviser, Leon Fuerth, fast asleep against a window. Sensing a photo op not to be missed, he sat down beside him and launched into an animated discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia. Gore leaned into him and grew increasingly demonstrative as Fuerth remained slumped down, totally oblivious to the tongue-lashing, the photographer and the circle of giggling staff members who had gathered around. According to his aides, Gore is notorious for such stunts -- and usually makes sure his unsuspecting target receives a copy of the photo.
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Presidential adviser Paul Begala called Gore's dry wit "a really rare gift because it deflates egos, it eases tension. In a very deadpan, exaggerated, comic sort of way," Begala said, "he'll make fun of the president or of other big-shots by sort of pretending to be an absolute yes man: 'That's a great idea. We should definitely do that. Why stop there?' It's a kind of humor that requires a deep reservoir of self-confidence, a sense of real familiarity with your colleagues ... and obviously high intellect to be able to turn it around."

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He is visionary in matters of the environment and technology:

"The project, which would need approval by Congress, is expected to cost between $20 million and $50 million. Gore sees it as an invaluable resource for scientific, educational and weather research.

It would show hurricanes and other threatening weather patterns, forest fires, cloud formations and other phenomena in real time. There are no full-Earth images now available, although existing satellites track regions of the world.

The vice president announced the program Friday at a technology conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

"As we connect all our classrooms to the Internet, we have the opportunity to bring new education and potential scientific projects as well as global weather observations to millions of American classrooms and living rooms via television and computer," Gore told an audience of academics, industry leaders and politicians."

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He was right about Social Security:


Stance on Social Security reform featuring private accounts: opposes.

"We have the chance to reform Social Security the right way, in a way that preserves its basic guarantees, pays down our debt, keeps our economy strong, and enables us to meet our other great challenges." Gore has detailed a plan to keep Social Security solvent through at least 2050. As President, Gore would use today's budget surpluses to pay down the national debt and use the interest saved from debt reduction to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund. Gore would also raise benefits for widows and eliminate the motherhood penalty that reduces benefits for women who take time off from work to raise their children. Gore supports a guaranteed benefit for Social Security and opposes raising the retirement age. "Social Security isn't supposed to be a system of winners and losers. It's supposed to be a bedrock guarantee of a minimum decent retirement,"

[Source: press release for speech delivered at Fordham University, NY May 16, 2000] more


And he was right about about the war in Iraq:

"I want to talk about the relationship between America's war against terrorism and America's proposed war against Iraq.

Like most Americans, I've been wrestling with the question of what our country needs to do to defend itself from the kind of focused, intense and evil attack that we suffered a year ago September 11th. We ought to assume that the forces that are responsible for that attack are even now attempting to plan another attack against us.

I'm speaking today in an effort to recommend a specific course of action for our country, which I sincerely believe would be better for our country than the policy that is now being pursued by President Bush. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.

To begin with, to put first things first, I believe that we ought to be focusing our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and who have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold-blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than was predicted.

Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another. We should remain focused on the war against terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

And, I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion. If you're going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first, especially if you're in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after you.

I don't think we should allow anything to diminish our focus on the necessity for avenging the 3,000 Americans who were murdered and dismantling that network of terrorists that we know were responsible for it. The fact that we don't know where they are should not cause us to focus instead on some other enemy whose location may be easier to identify. We have other enemies . . ."

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I have no idea if Al Gore has any plans to run for President. But I do know that he is the best qualified candidate for the job IMO.


I wanted to include this information on Gore's new position on healtcare. As one of the posters below reminded me, Gore decided that single payer healtcare was the only thing that would save our broken system.

In Surprising Shift, Gore Says He Favors Single-Payer Health Care System WASHINGTON – Noting that 40 million Americans now have no health insurance, Al Gore says he now favors "single-payer" national health coverage, a proposal that would require a massive change in the health insurance system

With single-payer coverage, money to pay for health care – such as insurance premiums and tax dollars – would be collected by a single agency, which would then pay for comprehensive coverage for all citizens.

Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee and a potential candidate in 2004, offered his views in response to a question at a synagogue in New York during a tour promoting his book "Joined at the Heart," written with his wife, Tipper.

"I was planning to wait and make a major speech on this and I probably should, but I'll just answer your question candidly," Gore told the moderator.

Gore's comments Wednesday night were first reported by ABC News' Internet political report "The Note" and were confirmed by Gore spokesman Jano Cabrera, who said any details would come in a future speech on health care.

"I think we've reached a point where the entire health care system is in impending crisis," Gore said. "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health insurance plan."

Depending on the details, calling for a single-payer plan could be a very dramatic step for Gore. During the 2000 primary campaign, Gore attacked Democratic rival Bill Bradley's central proposal – universal health care – calling it too expensive and not expansive enough to help poor people afford full coverage.

Another potential Democratic candidate for president, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, pushed for health care for all Americans in a speech Thursday night to an education group in Washington. He wants to expand coverage under Medicare and Medicaid to cover people who don't have insurance.
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2 comments :

Blue Cross of California said...

Interesting to see what Al Gore can do for health care and I hope he can improve situations quick as we are in a major crisis.

TeresaInPa said...

Yes, I agree we are in a crisis. What do you think should be done?