The United States would be a different place if Al Gore had become president in 2001. I’m not a lover of the Clintons, and Al Gore deserves a least a few years in purgatory for selecting Joementum as his VP, but it’s not about my feelings or about whether this or that Democrat is really a “good person”, it’s about the well being of the fucking country. Voting for George W. Bush because you were sick of the Clintons or wanting war with Iraq because you’re bored with the “bland comforts of peace” fall firmly in the category of “you might be a sociopath if…”.
So far, 2016 is deja vu all over again. Bogus Clinton scandals, check. Left-center wankers lamenting the fact that today’s politics “doesn’t quicken my pulse”, check. If you want to get a sense of just how morally bankrupt elite establishment media has become, I recommend this piece on George Packer by Corey Robin. Perhaps even more than Bobo, George Packer exemplifies everything about establishment media that will have to be eradicated when the revolution comes: he hated Gore, loved the Iraq War, is meh on Obama, and now is giving politics a GBCW until Both Sides join hands to fight gridlock etc.
There are no centrists in foxholes (there aren’t even many in campaign offices). No one ever gave their life to advance the principle that both sides do it.
A Hillary presidency will be very different from a Jeb or Rubio or Walker presidency, just as W’s presidency was very different from what Gore’s would have been. The fact that there are professional political journalists who insists otherwise is simply history repeating itself, this time as farce.
Tree With Water
I would be fine with Al Gore at the top of the 2016 democratic ticket.
Given what Walker is doing to Wisconsin (and as a Minnesotan with in-laws in WI, we have a front row seat to the gore), you bet your ass a GOP presidency will not be like a Hillary presidency.
I am not fired up about H. But I am fired up in opposition to Wanker et al.
@Tree With Water:
That shows how little you have kept up with Modern Day Caveman Al Gore.
He’s a VC stooge and penultimate TED Talk type snake oil salesman.
I think “this time as farce” is going to be the subtitle for just about every aspect of the election. “Bush vs. Clinton II: The Second Time as Farce”
Hillary may surprise us. Maybe she has her own “bucket” list after all these years.
/takes cover from the incoming barrage. Actually not gonna read it. Bucket.
Clinton will have to resist the bold initiatives crowd. I don’t think there’s any appetite for risk out there.
Kay (not the front-pager)
I wish I could believe it would be farce, but I’m pretty sure it would be an even bigger tragedy than the last time. Hillary isn’t my favorite Democrat in the whole of history, but it isn’t absolutely certain that she will destroy the country and the world. Can’t say the same for the jokers on the other side.
Also too, can I just say how tired I am of the “second Clinton Presidency” or “Clinton Dynasty” meme? I know she felt she had to append his last name to hers when he became President, but Hillary Rodham really is a different person from her husband, in a much more concrete way than brothers, or even father and son are different. Sorry fellas, that whole ‘you complete me’ thing is just to make you feel good.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
I dislike Hillary Clinton pretty intensely, for a number of reasons. I would really like the Democrats to find someone else to nominate for president. But if she is nominated, I’ll definitely be voting for her.
@Bex: Maybe I’m just a blind Clinto-bot, but I think there’s something to what you’re saying. Clinton has some unappreciated virtues– and they’re out there but appear to be invisible to the media. Consider the fact, which no one mentions, that Hillary turned out to be a pretty good Senator– hard working and attentive to her constituents. But, y’know, that doesn’t matter.
If Al Gore had been President in 2001, it would have been even odds that the Democratic Party would have essentially ceased to exist as a national party over the next two elections.
I disagree with the last paragraph praising Cockburn and “stuckness.” That seems silly, to me, after a great essay. Because as Robins himself points out in the essay there are plenty of chances to be heroic, to fight the good fight,to experience solidarity with others on the front lines. There’s Ferguson and the fight against the Carceral State. There’s the fight against the privatization of prisons and schools. There’s the fight to complete and expand the ACA. There’s the fight for 15. There’s lots of places to experience the surge of empathy and one-ness that he seems to find lacking but its all too tedious and small bore for him. Or maybe he just doesn’t like fighting alongside those people against priviliges which he, in fact, enjoys? Maybe he doesn’t want to get thanklessly battered on the head by the cops protesting the death of another black guy? Maybe he’d actually rather long lines for good dinner parties than that? No shame in it–but don’t pretend that you would do great things if only the times impelled you.
There is a chance (don’t know how big or small) that September 11th would not have happened if Gore had been president.
Richard Clarke was running around with his hair on fire trying to warn the Bush administration about the possibility of a big hit. Cheney, Bush, etal wanted nothing to do with anything that had a Clinton imprimatur on it so they ignored Clarke.
@Kay (not the front-pager): Yes–I hate that meme. Like Nancy Pelosi and every other woman her age she had to come late to being able to be the political actor she wanted to be until everyone else in her family had their crack at power and policy. But that just means that we haven’t seen anything yet. Nancy Pelosi has been a kick ass majority and minority leader–but you can bet your boots that we were being told that she was “just a housewife” or “just a good fund raiser” up until that point.
Gore listened to the MSM that he needed to “distance himself from Clinton”.
And it kept the election close enough for Bush to steal.
Mike in NC
Once JEB! is sworn in, with Dubya and Poppy proudly looking on, The Onion will be able to recycle that bit about “Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over” as the neocons work out the broad strategy of war with Iran.
@Mike in NC:
Thus far, the 2016 GOP platform has been gay hate and war with Iran.
If that wins 270 electoral votes, our hastened decline as a superpower will be entirely deserved.
@Mike in NC: I’m just waiting for Cheney to nominate himself to be Jeb!’s running mate.
We’d have been much, much better off, but I’m extremely doubtful that it would have made a difference re the housing bubble and the 2008 crash.
If we’re honest, that really is a negative for Gore—Clinton was always more popular than the morons in the MSM made him out to be, and the economy was really super at the time. Shows questionable judgement.
@Kay (not the front-pager):
Whenever a GOPer complains about the Clinton dynasty, I happily point out that the last time a Republican won the White House without a member of the Bush family on the ticket was 1972.
Huh? I would assume that, for the scum who rule us, that’s the highest accolade possible.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym: agreed.
Meh. There’s probably at least a few right-wing scum in Congress that one could say that of. So?
Man, I forgot that had happened. Was that the moment when Third Wayism went from tragedy to farce? I don’t remember the nineties very well, my memory of Lieberman is mainly of the fucking bastard who spent most of the 2000s trying to out-neocon the neocons, and then closed out the decade by working as hard as possible to water down health care reform as much as possible. Was there anything redeemable about him back when Gore chose him as a running mate?
This needs to become an aphorism. When the history books are written about the Villagers and both-sides-do-it milquetoasts of our day and age, this should be the saying they put before the actual text.
You’d have to go back to Teddy Roosevelt for an election in which the Democrat was not the better choice. But let’s keep debating the point.
@liberal: The topic, as I understand it, is “What sort of President would Hillary Clinton make?” My current answer is “Probably somewhat different from what you expect.” You may disagree.
Absolutely not. The day that pick was announced I said that Gore had just lost the election.
The pick of JL was an out and out rebuke of WJC and an attempt to position himself free of a very popular two term president.
Gore was an abysmal politician and his life post-politics exemplifies who he truly is. Have lost all fuzzy feelings for Gore in his corporate VC existence.
GBCW is the third acronym I’ve had to look up today (“goodbye cruel world”). Of course, that means I’m uninformed and culturally backwards, but it also means that I and other readers like me can’t focus on the point you’re trying to make because we have to go to another website for a translation and then back to finish reading what you have to say.
I’m not sure why this is a trend, but I wish it weren’t.
Comes from living too long in Washington, I suspect. And hearing Villagers, lobbyists, and all the rest of the Official Washington cesspool repeat the mantras that “everybody knows” for so long (e.g, that the American people were shocked and appalled and felt betrayed by the sex scandal and would never trust Clinton again and were looking for someone who could restore honor to the nation) that you end up believing it or at least thinking that if there’s so much smoke, there must be a fire somewhere.
I am seriously hoping that Clinton, or on the off chance it’s not her, whoever runs in 2016 instead, doesn’t make the same mistake WRT Obama. The MSM and Official Washington bubble are working harder than ever to repeat all that same conventional wisdom and make it stick on Obama. I hope to God whoever it is doesn’t listen.
I don’t think anyone would argue that Hillary wouldn’t be better than any GOP alternative, but good god some of this stuff is just so sloppy and easily avoidable– seriously the Clinton Foundation is re filing virtually half of its Tax Returns because they didn’t properly report donations from foreign governments– why the hell did they mess up in the first place given how much scrutiny they had to of known they’d be under?
Then there’s the bigger problem with the Gore comparison– Gore one could argue would have been treading water from the Clinton years, Hillary is a step back from Obama, she just is in so many ways and on so many issues. So yes, she’s better than the GOP and I’ll vote for her if she gets the nomination but to expect the kind of grassroots support and enthusiasm that made the Obama campaigns so successful in terms of both voter turnout and volunteer participation is insane.
That Gore was preferable to W is beyond debate. Nonetheless, I have a hard time envisioning a successful Gore presidency. I just do not think that personally he had the type of “ammo” one needs to take on all the challenges of the Executive Branch.
The first link in Doug’s post goes to an article skewering George Packer regarding his opinions in the 9/11 aftermath. Fair enough, but Packer, to his immense credit has written about other things, especially the gutting of what was our former conception of the social contract.
Some of this is explained in his essay, “The Broken Contract“. Please read it. Everyone should.
Here is the opening of the summation paragraph. Sorry it is a bit long. I cut it down as much as I though that I could.
OT: C-Span 1 airs last night’s White House Correspondents Dinner (#hackprom, per Villago Delenda Est) at 6:30 p Eastern.
@Keith G: Yet Packer wants to double down on the inequality by engaging in more wars. He’s a clown.
You don’t have any clue what “penultimate” means, do you?
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym:
Thank you. I have friends who don’t seem to want to commit to the second part of that. And I have to wonder about their connection with reality.
I was thinking about this the other day, and I’m not sure how different the world would really be. (I think this idea comes from Matt Yglesias, but it may have been a different blogger.)
Assume Al Gore won the election in 2000 (maybe something as simple as Ralph Nader not running…). Would a Gore administration have been able to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? I don’t think so. They certainly would have been more interested in fighting terrorism and less concerned about Iraq, but my guess is that they would not have been able to prevent the attacks.
After the attacks, how would the Gore administration respond? Probably something like invading Afghanistan. Similar to the Bush response, but without the focus on Iraq/Saddam.
Meanwhile, what would be going on at Fox News and the press? They would be blaming the Gore administration for the attacks. In 2012 a Republican majority would have been swept into office based anger of the 9/11 attacks and the public blaming Gore. The new Republican congress would then impeach President Gore early in 2013. They would have used the 9/11 attacks as justification. President Lieberman would have been sworn in soon after. Lieberman would have listened to the serious national defense arguments from the neoconservatives and become suspicious of Iraq.
I sadly conclude that President Lieberman would have invaded Iraq and much of the past would have played out exactly as it has. Perhaps, Katrina would have been handled better and a few other things would have gone better. But I suspect things would not have been much better. Certainly, by 2008 there would not have been a Democratic alignment that could have elected Obama. Who knows? Perhaps a Bush or Mitt Romney would have beaten Lieberman for his reelection.
Just some day dreaming to share.
@nancydarling: I agree that 9/11 might not have happened under Gore, but I think Clarke is trying to get too much credit. The Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US (2 page .pdf) memo really doesn’t read like the authors’ (presumably Clarke and his higher-ups) hair was on fire. Maybe it had to be written that way to reach Bush at all, but still …
To be clear – Bush was asleep at the wheel and people under him didn’t care – they were too busy fantasizing about taking Saddam out. But it wasn’t at all clear – at least from that infamous memo – that 9/11 was going to happen the way it did. Gore would have been much better, but maybe still not good enough.
But none of those are led by people they respect as “leaders”. I think that’s the point he’s making with the “bold initiatives”. Fight for Fifteen was 20 million dollars from service employee unions and 5 years of organizing. The “Our Walmart” campaign is wild- they have these huge below the radar legal battles. It’s vicious.
I think he’s referring to “bold initiatves” like entitlement reform. Fifteen point plans. Top down. Socially acceptable :)
@SiubhanDuinne: What do you think I meant by using that term?
I think you might be surprised about that. The crash of 2008 was born of many causes. Yes, deregulation of finance played a big role, but some of that deregulation was in the form of regulators looking the other way as financial firms did as they pleased. Some of it was in the form of the federal government interfering with state regulation attempts. Both of those things were on Bush’s head. Getting rid of them might not have prevented the bubble, but they might well have moderated it.
@Elizabelle: thanks for that! i just saw your comment with 6 minutes to spare – Tivo is now set to record.
@Phil Perspective: Maybe so. But I do not see the evidence for that (Packer’s present-day war woody) in Packer’s essay posted after the massacre in Paris. That doesn’t mean it does not exist somewhere. I just do not see it there.
I would be interested in seeing if he is calling for more war action than is currently being provided by the present Commander-in-Chief.
Nice of you to drop by, Doug. Have you dropped your self-imposed moratorium on political posts?
Davis X. Machina
The pick provided Gore with the only good week of press he got all campaign. And it didn’t exactly hurt in south Florida.
This, though, Keith, what Packer said about Gore, in hindsight?
“First do no harm” doesn’t mean “wimp” or “lack of leadership”. It’s a recognition that one CAN do harm, even if well-intended. It’s an reminder to have some humility and to be careful with peoples’ lives.
George W Bush could have used a little “first do no harm”. He was a one man fucking wrecking crew.
I have no idea what you meant. “Quintessential,” maybe?
Penultimate means “next to the last” (in a series). If that’s what you meant, then your comment makes no sense.
(Edited for clarity)
What do you think Alex meant when he wrote (as quoted by Robin) that gridlock keeps “the bastards at bay”?
Packer should be reviewing plays, not playing pretend “journalism”. He wants drama and sacrifice but seems oblivious to what that means to other people (the poor schleps who are struggling and dying). He really reflects a wide spread state of mind that exists in this country. We, Americans, view the rest of the world and its travails as a plot in an HBO movie. The more excitement the better.
Packer wants to be Earnest Hemingway or Rudyard Kipling or Winston Churchill in his journalist days. He wants his prose to have transcendent value. No city hall reporter he.
We really have forgotten how excited American journalists were about the prospects for war after 9/11 and their rush to join the ranks of exulted war correspondents like Ed Murrow and Ernie Pyle. The classic case was the neocon Michael Kelly of the New Republic. His death was as pointless and squalid (the Humvee he was riding in crashed into a canal and he drowned.) as most deaths are in war. No glory, no righteous prose. Just pain and death like the tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis who didn’t even leave an epitaph to mark their demise.
Packer must think of himself as a diarist of other peoples tragedies and misfortunes. Those bloodlines aren’t to replenish his spilled blood. No. They’re just sickening fodder for his prose.
Could not have put it better.
Davis X. Machina
You can get to ‘don’t vote, it just encourages them’ on the way to from the left or the right. Bakunin, after all, said “No state, however democratic, not even the reddest republic—can ever give the people what they really want.”
@Cacti: This! Al was my Senator and my district 4 Representative before that. He could have come to Tennessee a few times and he would have won, he could have said “What Bill did is anathema to me but I will run on our record and he would have won. He did neither and he lost. At that point I decided his political instincts were not as good as I thought they were. Do it goes.
Davis X. Machina
@HinTN: He wasn’t going to win TN. Not that year. 2000 was the end of the realignment of the South.
LA, WV, KY also went red that year, and haven’t gone back. GA flipped the election before.
@SiubhanDuinne: No, I did not mean quintessential or else I would have said so.
Okay, so you actually meant He’s a VC stooge and next-to-the-last TED Talk type snake oil salesman
WTF is that even suppose to mean, then?
@Davis X. Machina: It was a year if realignment but Favorite Sons still had some sway here. I think he could have won. Being a Democrat had pull and meaning then and we were democrats. Not do much any more.
@RSA: Maybe they still believe Nader’s nonsense about “not a dime’s worth of difference”?
In any case, if some people refuse to see the truth that if the GOP win next year they will buttf**k the country worse than they did during the Bush II years, then f**k ’em. There is too much at stake and I have no goddamned time or patience to hear a purity argument.
@Cervantes: Cockburn, huh? The same guy who was the Left’s biggest denier of climate change, hated Al Gore, and wrote nonsense such as, “Democrats are police-state light”, so that’s why Bush deserved to win in 2004?
Not for nothing–and with all due respect to the deceased–Cockburn didn’t care fi the GOP ran the country into the ground. He was too busy taking shots at Democrats and Gore while the GOP was throwing the country over the fence and giving it the business.
@SiubhanDuinne: Jeebus Cracker, Betty’s younger brother.
I meant that on balance he’s done some good on some things but his veering slant into VC assholishness has made me feel, IMO, that he is a TED type asshole with some mitigating factors.
IOW, he’s not quite a full fledge TED asshole but he’s in the fucking queue.
Good Fucking Christ.
Okay, okay, calm down. And thank you for telling me what you meant. “Penultimate” means none of those things, as you now know, but that’s fine; we all acquire vocabulary at our own pace.
@SiubhanDuinne: It’s a completely cromulent word. I’m sure in a year or two during your nonagenarian years you’ll finally develop an understanding of the commonly used lexicon.
I was thinking he was going for preëminent. But quintessential is better.
It is indeed a cromulent word. It just doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means! What’s wrong with you that you can’t simply say “Oops, I’ve been misusing that word, thanks, glad to expand my vocabulary” and just fucking let it go? Instead, you dig a deeper hole with every pushback post.
@Steeplejack (phone): Preëminent would work equally well. Thanks!
Karen in GA
@Corner Stone: FWIW, I’ve never heard “penultimate” misused the way you misused it.
I think you might have meant “splunge,” perhaps?
Keep digging, you’ll get there eventually.
Sometimes it pays to just shut the fuck up and accept some knowledge.
@Steeplejack (phone): Go fuck yourself. I meant it exactly the way I used it.
Okay, got it.
I think we’re all clear on it now.
Sometimes it pays for you to just shut the fuck up and accept some knowledge.
How many divisions does The New Yorker have?
I plan to do some political posts occasionally but probably not that often.
“First do no harm” is a pretty good first principle. It works for doctors.
Your drawings are an impressive body of work!
As for your complaints re Alex Cockburn, I can’t comment unless you refer specifically to things he wrote (and maybe not even then).
@Davis X. Machina:
Perhaps, but I’m not going to try working that into the question I was asking (someone else).
Maybe, but sticking to Alex for the moment: have you read anything he wrote about the election in Florida in 2000? I don’t recall him rejoicing in the disenfranchisement of so many people.
In the ’90s, Pat Moynihan deprived the Clinton health-care proposal of momentum precisely by using that expression.
so still head and shoulders better than any likely GOP candidate.
@catclub: Apparently I don’t know anything about the English language, or wtf I mean when I say shit here so I will just agree with you and say, “Harf, bleeegie tee do, and nu-uh!”
Robes, the men, my mind! They did something!
Aww. You’re so cute when you sulk.
@SiubhanDuinne: Making their waaaayyy, the only way they know how!
But that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow.
@SiubhanDuinne: You’re like the Dallas Mavericks celebrating when they get a lead in a game while in the series they are 0-3.
ETA, Oh shit. To be clear, “like”, “celebrating” and “series” all have a meaning that is understood. I should maybe define all of them but then I’d probably have to “define” define after that.
I dunno quite how to frame this, but George Packer has always reminded me of a “Liberal” version of Frank Luntz. He does nothing for me, nor, as far as I can tell, for the left, (not counting the many diaries on DailyKos praising the way Packer frames things.) Frame this; frame that, go to war, and f*ck that. Screw him.
I think there’s a significant chance that they actually would have. The Clinton administration failed to prevent the first WTC bombing that happened just a few weeks after they took office, but after that, they actually prevented several large al Qaeda terrorist attacks, including one that would have been almost on the 9/11 scale, a massive simultaneous bombing of several airliners. Clinton was on it, and even got some criticism for trying so hard to kill Osama bin Laden (people said it was a “Wag the Dog” distraction from Monica Lewinsky). Attention seriously flagged when Bush took office. Under Gore, there might have been some continuity to the effort.
Paul in KY
@Corner Stone: But he’d still be much better than any Repub.