Saturday, July 19, 2008

Goring the Ox

The more I've heard this "at least Saint Algore would've kept us out of Iraq" stuff over the years, the less convincing I find it. Let's at least accept as a given that Gore and his security team would have been astute enough to not blithely ignore a memo telegraphing the culprit and mode of 9/11; i.e., it would have either been prevented or (if you're a LIHOP) not allowed to happen.

(Forget the MIHOP theories; these people couldn't put their fingers together in the dark, much less steer remote-controlled jets into skyscrapers. Still, there are at least as many CYA actions as one might find around the JFK assassination, thus lending empathy if not actual credibility to the more lurid speculations out there. People may be speculating a bit too wildly, but they are probably correct in assuming that they have not been told much of the truth at all.)

Anyway, so no 9/11 perhaps, but that does not automatically translate to no war in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. The Taliban, aided by Pakistan's ISI, were in the process of committing a great many serious human rights violations in any case, well before 9/11. The country was being seriously destabilized, per Pakistan's express desires, as it regards Afghanistan as a convenient buffer state against India. It was a humanitarian crisis waiting to happen, and Gore is exactly the type who would have looked for his own private Kosovo with which to bolster his own humanitarian cred.

As for Iraq, the Clinton administration had ramped up its bombing and strafing runs there in its waning months, and had been studiously indifferent to the damage wrought by sanctions throughout the '90s. Whatever poll ratings Fatboy had managed to retain, it was more from popular revulsion at his hypocritical accusers, rather than any naturally accruing goodwill. He had little or no political capital left with which to operate outside the constraints of the Delay/Gingrich douchebags in Congress.

And that's what a hobbled-from-the-gate Gore would have been dealt anyway, had he chosen to fight a little harder for what was his. Look what insufferable winners the Baker junta turned out to be; what kind of sore losers are they? It would have been a contested victory by a candidate who lost his home state by 4%, paired up with a hostile Congress that would have scapegoated him at every opportunity because that's what they do. And Gore is exactly the type of bien pensant doofus to let himself get rolled into a bad idea for putatively humanitarian reasons.

Of course, a Gore administration would not have gone to war the way the Cheney administration did, especially without having 9/11 as a pretext. It wouldn't have been poaching laundered documents from Italian intelligence to frame Saddam Hussein, or trotting Colin Powell in front of the UN to conjure specters of havoc wrought by remote control airplanes launching out of Basra. It would have been more artfully done, to be sure. With a Chimpco production, the assumption was that the Iraqis would shower us with flowers 'n' candy; with the Gorons, we would have been the ones with treats.

But even the "success" of Kosovo is heavily qualified, with a young, underemployed, seething populace still torn by ethnic strife, no economy to speak of, and an enormous US base plopped in the center of things. It seems to be a great transition point for the trafficking of heroin and girls, but other than that, not so much.

The great thing about speculative history is that anyone can pull pretty much anything out of their ass. I don't know that Gore would have invaded Afghanistan and/or Iraq anymore than they know that he wouldn't have. But conditions in each situation were such that he could have found cause or pretext to do so, and Lieberman has proven to be a complete fucking weasel. There's no point in trying to make one side or the other attempt to prove a negative, but their unconditional presumption of impossibility is really something to behold, given Gore's own track record, and that of the administration he served.

Been close to eight interminable years of this N8r-b8ting schtick, and not once have I ever seen a tacit admission or even acknowledgement of some inescapable facts: that with Gore as president, you would also have had a dickhead like Lieberman as VP; that Gore was a bad candidate with a worse campaign, and would have entered office with absolutely zero juice and a motivated, hostile, radical congress to contend with; and most importantly, that many more registered Democrats voted for George Fucking Walker Bush than their anointed saint.


Thomas Daulton said...

Right on-target, bruddah! Nice blog here, I will have to check your archives. Since I'm new here, I don't know if you've already mentioned this article before, but it puts a lot of hard fact behind your opinion in this matter. Joe Lieberman was not the only hawk in the Gore Administration, and what you said about him being just the right patsy to be railroaded into Iraq, is dead-on.

Yeah, sure, a Democrat can fantasize all day about how if only Al had been elected in 2000, we would have avoided Iraq, solved the housing bubble, banned the internal combustion engine and we'd all be riding free ponies instead of cars.

Hey sure, but on the other hand, it's equally valid for me to say that, "if only" Ralph Nader had won in 2000, his long established campaign planks of advocating airline security and pulling out of Saudi Arabia would have eviscerated Al-Qaida and thus prevented 911 and also the Iraq War. His corporate crime-fighting experience would have pre-empted the Enron and Arthur Andersen debacles and saved the country from recession. And we'd all be riding free ponies.

Nope, apparently all modern politics boils down to the search for scapegoats, and Ralph serves this valuable function for scores of millions of Dem voters and politicians, saving them from the exhausting effort of actually trying to correct their own parties' many failures (and thus actually _winning_ voters over, instead of _whining_ about it).

Brian said...

Great blog, and great comment.

I get a lot of this from Demobot friends. Gore would have saved us, you know.

Anonymous said...

You're a great writer and I appreciate your sense of humor, but you've got your opinion about 2000 and I've got mine. Gore won Florida but the Supremes shut down the recount, the neocons took over Dumbya, and... everything has gone to Hell. When did YOU become Nader?

This is interesting... GOP Tech Guru Mike Connell...

Heywood J. said...

You're missing the point, Anonymous. Only a diehard Republibot is not going to acknowledge that the outcome of the Florida recount was something one usually finds in banana-republic sham elections. In retrospect, Jimmy Carter probably should have been in Florida as an observer. We agree on that.

The point is that there are plenty of reasons it got that close and went that way in the first place, and none of them have anything to do with Nader. You can complain all you want about Big Bad Ralph taking what was Al's by divine right, but the fact of the matter is, all Gore had to do was carry his home state, and Florida wouldn't have mattered. And for the thousandth time, in Florida, as in many other parts of the country, more Democrats voted for Bush than for Nader.

I don't know why you people keep having to have this explained to you, it's pretty simple math, and eight years should have been long enough to figure it out. But whatever. I'm more results-oriented than process-oriented, and here the problem is that this cultlike devotion to tending the myth of the Nader spoiler has irrefutably left the Democratic party leadership and rank-and-file oblivious to their own manifest shortcomings.

It ain't all Ralph's fault, son; it ain't even half his fault. Understanding why that is, and doing something about it for once, would be infinitely more constructive. Remember, the system isn't broken -- it's fixed.