Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The mauling of Gore

with 6 comments

We on the liberal side have often bemoaned the treatment that Al Gore received at the hands of the supposedly “liberal” press, notably the NY Times and the Washington Post, during his campaign for president. Now there’s a good article on that, which begins:

As he was running for president, Al Gore said he’d invented the Internet; announced that he had personally discovered Love Canal, the most infamous toxic-waste site in the country; and bragged that he and Tipper had been the sole inspiration for the golden couple in Erich Segal’s best-selling novel Love Story (made into a hit movie with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal). He also invented the dog, joked David Letterman, and gave mankind fire.

Could such an obviously intelligent man have been so megalomaniacal and self-deluded to have actually said such things? Well, that’s what the news media told us, anyway. And on top of his supposed pomposity and elitism, he was a calculating dork: unable to get dressed in the morning without the advice of a prominent feminist (Naomi Wolf).

Today, by contrast, Gore is “the Goreacle,” the elder statesman of global activism, and something of a media darling. He is the Bono of the environment, the Cassandra of Iraq, the star of an Oscar-winning film, and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. To the amusement of his kids, some people now actually consider him cool. “If you had told me 10 years ago that people were going to be appealing to me for tickets to a hot rock concert through my parents, I would have fallen over,” says his daughter Karenna Gore Schiff, 34, referring to the Live Earth 24-hour extravaganza in July.

What happened to Gore? The story promoted by much of the media today is that we’re looking at a “new Gore,” who has undergone a radical transformation since 2000—he is now passionate and honest and devoted to issues he actually cares about. If only the old Gore could have been the new Gore, the pundits say, history might have been different.

But is it really possible for a person—even a Goreacle—to transform himself so radically? There’s no doubt that some things have changed about Al Gore since 2000. He has demonstrated inner strength, rising from an excruciating defeat that would have crushed many men. Beyond that, what has changed is that he now speaks directly to the public; he has neither the patience nor the need to go through the media.

Eight years ago, in the bastions of the “liberal media” that were supposed to love Gore—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, CNN—he was variously described as “repellent,” “delusional,” a vote-rigger, a man who “lies like a rug,” “Pinocchio.” Eric Pooley, who covered him for Time magazine, says, “He brought out the creative-writing student in so many reporters.… Everybody kind of let loose on the guy.”

How did this happen? Was the right-wing attack machine so effective that it overwhelmed all competing messages? Was Gore’s communications team outrageously inept? Were the liberal elite bending over backward to prove they weren’t so liberal?

Eight years later, journalists, at the prompting of Vanity Fair, are engaging in some self-examination over how they treated Gore. As for Gore himself, for the first time, in this article, he talks about the 2000 campaign and the effect the press had on him and the election. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that my father, Martin Peretz, was his teacher at Harvard and is an ardent, vocal Gore backer. I contributed to his campaign in February 1999. Before reporting this article, however, I’d had maybe two passing exchanges with Gore in my life.) Gore wasn’t eager to talk about this. He doesn’t blame the media for his loss in 2000. Yet he does believe that his words were distorted and that certain major reporters and outlets were often unfair.

How does he feel about it all? “I feel fine,” he says, “but, when I say that, I’m reminded of a story that Cousin Minnie Pearl used to tell about a farmer who was involved in an accident and sued for damages.” To paraphrase, at the trial the lawyer for the driver of the other car cross-examined the farmer, saying, “Isn’t it true that right after the accident, you said, ‘I feel fine’?” The farmer said, “Well, it’s not the simple,” before going on to explain that the other car rammed into him, throwing both him and his cow from his car. When a highway patrolman came by and saw the cow struggling, he shot him between the eyes. The farmer continued, “The patrolman then came to my side and said, ‘How do you feel?’… so I said, ‘I feel fine.'”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2007 at 3:19 pm

6 Responses

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  1. <>

    I’ve never actually seen any evidence of Gore’s purported intelligence. His one chance at achieving statesman-like greatness — a denunciation of his boss’s subornation and commission of perjury — would have virtually guaranteed him at least a place in history if not the presidency. In every other circumstance, his public life has been a history of blunders and incompetent propoganda. The irony of his film name is itself terrible in the Old Testament sense of the word as evidence continues to mount that there is no scientific consensus regarding anthropomorphic global warming and that attempts to reduce carbon emissions are doomed to having no effect at extraordinary cost.

    The penury that conservative politicians are stupid and liberals are smart disserves both the victim and the propounder. The fact is that, while GWB is probably not a rocket scientist, he did master sufficient business studies to graduate an ivy league institution with a gentleman’s C. There is plenty of room for disagreement on policy, but to charge him with stupidity generally serves merely to hide journalistic or demagogic laziness in mounting reasoned policy challenges. Interestingly, Gore’s own academic performance was less than stellar and, at least from a conservative and libertarian perspective, he resembles nothing more than a run-of-the-mill sort of person who has worked hard to memorize a relatively complex vocabulary.

    Finally, the “I invented the Internet” tag. My main beef with GWB is that he is terrible at communicating the reasons behind his policies and decisions (many of which I disagree with), and absolutely awful at using the bully pulpit. When he bothers to do so, his ratings improve. Gore’s problem on the internet and other verbal gaffes was that he could not effectively respond to such challenges in a timely fashion.



    4 September 2007 at 6:19 pm

  2. Hmm.

    evidence continues to mount that there is no scientific consensus regarding anthropomorphic global warming

    Have a link to any scientifically reputable site? From all the science magazines that I read, and the sites I peruse, I see considerable scientific consensus that global warming is anthropogenic. It is good, though, to see conservatives (in general, I mean) begin to admit that global warming is happening—though quite a few still deny that. And as to where CO2 reduction will help, it’s not clear, I think. We may have waited too late. It would have helped, though, since that’s the cause. (It’s certainly not due to the sun—that is now quite clear.)



    4 September 2007 at 6:47 pm

  3. BTW, on the Internet: later in the article:

    On March 9, 1999, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer conducted an interview with Gore shortly before he officially announced his candidacy. In answer to a question about why Democrats should support him, Gore spoke about his record. “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative”—politico-speak for leadership—”in creating the Internet,” he said, before going on to describe other accomplishments. It was true. In the 1970s, the Internet was a limited tool used by the Pentagon and universities for research. As a senator in the 80s, Gore sponsored two bills that turned this government program into an “information superhighway,” a term Gore popularized, and made it accessible to all. Vinton Cerf, often called the father of the Internet, has claimed that the Internet would not be where it was without Gore’s leadership on the issue. Even former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich has said that “Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet.”



    4 September 2007 at 6:58 pm

  4. ———————————————
    An article at the Daily Tech blog:

    “In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the “consensus view,” defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes’ work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

    Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

    Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers “implicit” endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no “consensus.” ”


    Even the fact of warming is at issue, given the recent recalibrations of US weather stations and issues regarding poor quality data, although it is certainly possible. A climate that didn’t change would be extraordinary. More importantly, the question of global warming and what & whether people should do anything about it should not be reduced to a conservative/liberal dichotomy. To the extent that it is, I suspect the motives of many of the politicians who advocate for greater state controls over industry, environment, private property, and individual liberty. Climate change, whether it is warming or cooling, provides a massive, planetwide crisis that justifies any level of state intervention. The problem is that government does nothing particularly well, it just does it expensive. There is no reason to expect government regulation of the environment to be any more effective than the war on poverty.



    4 September 2007 at 7:16 pm

  5. Given the unprecedented Arctic meltdown (including the melting of the Greenland icecap) and the breakup of the Antarctic ice sheets, I would say that global warming is more than “possible”—it’s well underway.

    It’s good to be suspicious of motives, including the motives of the energy industry’s enormous fight against the idea of global warming and taking action on it.

    The government (in my view) does quite a few things well, and much less expensively than, say, Halliburton and KMG. Social Security, for example, has very low administrative overhead. The USPS does (in my opinion) quite a good job. The government doesn’t do things well if the people in charge of the execution are determined that the government won’t do things well. One reason Bush opposes S-CHIP is that the program would work well and provide excellent care: he doesn’t want to create a model of effective government intervention.

    So far as the War on Poverty is concerned, for a while the amount of hunger and starvation in the US was greatly diminished, thanks to various programs under the War on Poverty, such as this:

    Food Stamp Act of 1964 – August 31, 1964

    On Jan. 31, 1964, President Johnson requested Congress to pass legislation making the FSP permanent. Secretary Orville Freeman submitted proposed legislation to establish a permanent FSP on April 17, 1964. The bill eventually passed by Congress was H.R. 10222, introduced by Congresswoman Sullivan. Among the official purposes of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 were strengthening the agricultural economy and providing improved levels of nutrition among low-income households; however, the practical purpose was to bring the pilot FSP under Congressional control and to enact the regulations into law. The major provisions were:

    * the State Plan of Operation requirement and development of eligibility standards by States;
    * the requirement that recipients purchase their food stamps, paying an amount commensurate with their normal expenditures for food and receiving an amount of food stamps representing an opportunity more nearly to obtain a low-cost nutritionally adequate diet;
    * the eligibility for purchase with food stamps of all items intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages and imported foods (the House version would have prohibited the purchase of soft drinks, luxury foods, and luxury frozen foods);
    * prohibitions against discrimination on bases of race, religious creed, national origin, or political beliefs;
    * the division of responsibilities between States (certification and issuance) and the Federal Government (funding of benefits and authorization of retailers and wholesalers), with shared responsibility for funding costs of administration; and
    * appropriations for the first year limited to $75 million; for the second year, to $100 million; and, for the third year, to $200 million.

    The Department estimated that participation in a national FSP would eventually reach 4 million, at a cost of $360 million annually.

    Here’s a brief statement of outcomes, which suggests that it was not a total failure by any means. The poverty rate at the time Johnson announced the program was 19%:

    In the decade following the 1964 introduction of the war on poverty, poverty rates in the U.S. dropped to their lowest level to date: 11.1% . They have remained between 11 and 15.2% ever since. Since 1973 poverty has remained well below the historical U.S. averages in the range of 20-25%.[2]

    Poverty among Americans between ages 18-64 has fallen only marginally since 1966, from 10.5% then to 10.1% today. Poverty has significantly fallen among Americans under 18 years old from 23% in 1964 to 16.3% today. The most dramatic decrease in poverty was among Americans over 65, which fell from 28.5% in 1966 to 10.1% today.

    In 2004, more than 35.9 million, or 12% of Americans including 12.1 million children, were considered to be living in poverty with an average growth of almost 1 million per year.

    The OEO was dismantled by President Nixon in 1973, though many of the agency’s programs were transferred to other government agencies.



    4 September 2007 at 7:32 pm

  6. Global warming: the blogger you quote is interesting, but I have my doubts about the study. Check this article from Earth & Sky. From that article:

    (April 6, 2007) Today’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expressed “high confidence” that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are at least partly responsible for many changes already happening on Earth, including longer growing seasons and shrinking glaciers. You’ll find news of today’s IPCC’s announcement here.
    Just what do these announcements from the IPCC represent? Climate is a very complicated puzzle that is far from being completely understood, even by expert climate scientists. Is there a scientific consensus on global warming? What would a scientific consensus mean?
    To learn more about this idea of a “consensus,” Earth & Sky emailed climate scientists earlier this week. We asked, “What does it mean to have a consensus from scientists on the subject of global warming?” We got 9 responses from scientists, all of whom indicated that a scientific consensus does exist, and that this consensus is meaningful for understanding what is happening to Earth’s climate today. You’ll find their answers beginning here.
    In an effort to maintain impartiality on this subject, we then sought out the email addresses of well-known global warming skeptics. We sent emails to 8 of those individuals, and received 2 responses. You’ll find the answers of those two scientists – both of whom are skeptical of a global warming consensus – beginning here.



    4 September 2007 at 7:44 pm

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