Can Gore heal the nation?

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Gore Can't Heal the Hurt

By Richard Cohen

Friday , November 24, 2000 ; Page A43

I voted for Al Gore. I did so because I have known him since he was a congressman from Tennessee. I admire his intellect, his seriousness of purpose, his capacity for hard work and study, his political values, his experience and his knowledge. That being said, I now think that under current circumstances he would not be the right man for the presidency. If I could, I would withdraw my vote. In the terminology of the moment, put me down as a hanging chad.

I still think precisely as I have about Gore. But those "current circumstances" I just mentioned change everything. Given the present bitterness, given the angry irresponsible charges being hurled by both camps, the nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse. That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush.

Bush has incessantly proclaimed himself as that sort of guy--"a uniter, not a divider." The tendency is to dismiss that sort of chest-thumping as campaign nonsense, but in Bush's case it appears to be true. After all, the Bush boomlet began among his fellow Republican governors, each of whom probably thought the next president should be none other than himself.

So it says something about Bush that the governors were able to coalesce around him. Some of these governors knew Bush quite well, some hardly at all, but the fact remains that they all seemed to genuinely like the guy and respected his leadership abilities.

You hear the same sort of thing from people who worked with Bush in private enterprise. I talked with one of them once, a Democrat who disagreed with Bush on many issues. Yet he, too, praised Bush's leadership abilities, his talent for bringing order out of chaos and for reaching some sort of consensus. That man's testimony impressed me. His disagreements with Bush were real, his admiration for him profound.

Gore, on the other hand, has little of those abilities. His own party is sore at him for taking the one-two punch of peace and prosperity and running a race that is still not concluded. His performance was as erratic as his uniform-of-the-day: earth tones on Tuesday, business suit on Wednesday. The country sensed that either he did not know himself, or what he did know the country would not like.

Gore is hardly a political natural. He appears stiff, robotic, insincere even when he is not, and paradoxically unable to mask his ambition. He is the intimate of few people, almost no one's good buddy, and not comfortable--or is it just plain not good?--on television. But TV is as essential to the modern presidency as a white horse was to monarchs of old.

Could Al Gore rally the nation? Maybe. Could he go over the heads of Congress and get the country behind him? Maybe. I think, though, that Bush would be better at those things--and better, too, at restraining GOP Dobermans like Reps. Tom DeLay and J.C. Watts Jr. At the same time, it's not likely that a President Bush would be able to appoint Supreme Court justices ideologically similar to those he says he admires, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Simply put, he ain't got the votes.

John F. Kennedy won by a hair and under questionable circumstances, and yet his presidency was never considered illegitimate. Within a relatively short time, his approval rating hit an astounding 83 percent. But Kennedy was a man of manifest political talents, not to mention charisma. Bush is no Kennedy on a lot of levels--particularly his lack of intellectual curiosity--but Gore is almost Kennedy's antithesis. No one has ever applied the word "grace" to him.

I realize that one-term presidents can become two-term presidents, so it is not just the next year that matters. I realize, too, that Bush and Gore have real differences in their approach to government--differences that matter greatly to many people.

But what matters at the moment is the moment itself--a mere tick of the historic clock that could, if things continue, just stop it dead where it is. History does not guarantee that things will be as they have been. The first and most daunting task of the next president is not a tax bill or a Social Security plan but--as it was when Jerry Ford succeeded Richard Nixon--the healing of the country. I voted for Gore because he was the better man for the job. I can't help thinking that he no longer is.

© 2000 The Washington Post

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeed@yahoo.com), November 24, 2000

Answers

First, Gore must heal himself.

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), November 24, 2000.

Can we expect conciliation from a guy who oversaw an operation to ship in thugs to Miami-Dade to punch and kick innocent people inside a building so votes couldn't and wouldn't be counted? From a guy who oversees anti-military propaganda spewed by his operatives when he was AWOL from the military over a year?

Give me a break.

-- Bush an AWOL Thug (awol@year.com), November 24, 2000.


Unk, you have done this forum a great service by posting this piece by Richard Cohen. Now I donít know Mr. Cohen personally but here is a Jewish democrat that has supported and voted for Al Gore telling us why GWB would give this country better leadership at this time in history. Folks, take the time to digest what Mr. Cohen is saying for he knows of what he speaks.

Dinosaur, Iíve not always agreed with your takes but you have hit the nail on the head with your above statement.

Hawk, somewhere inside of your confused brain there may be a coherent thought but your insistent spewing of anti-Bush postings has relegated you to the status of Ďvillage idiotí. There was a time when I found you to be somewhat humorous but those days are long gone. You are not well boy, not well at all.

-- I (h@ve.spoken), November 24, 2000.


I h@ve spoken:

CAN Gore heal himself?

He seems to be very petty with this election and not at all what some of the Democratic supporters had hoped for in their candidate.

I also think Dubya is being too snippy about some of the issues.

Oh, that we don't have a leader like Alexander the Great! He was a unifier and able to compromise, at least in the details...

I wish someone like Abraham Lincoln had been on the ballot. The closest one like him was Alan Keyes.

But wishful thinking has no sound place in this most fascinating of elections.

It's one for the history books!

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), November 24, 2000.


I Have Spoken,

You put into words nicely what I had been thinking about Hawk.

I actually used to have rational conversations with him, we mostly disagreed, but we were able to speak as human beings to one another. Oh it got bitter at times, but overall it was a challenge and mentally stimulating. Those days are gone it seems, and a guy who once had interesting things to say has now become little more than a troll.

Frankly it is a bit sad, because even though he was sometimes exasperating, I enjoyed the back and forth with him, back in the old days when he could string coherent thoughts together and could pique your interest with outrageous statements. Now it seems that the best he can do is post outrageous nonsense and horseshit.

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeed@yahoo.com), November 24, 2000.



Hey THUG, didn't you know that Janet Reno sent the storm troopers in to kidnap Elian Gonzales, not AlGORE? Did he take credit for that travesty too? Even though ALGORE has never led in the Popular vote in Florida, the Democrats keep appealing trying to find a Court that will elect ALGORE. The Republicians file countersuits in self defense and are accused of trying to steal the election. The whole administration has apparently been KLINTONIZED? Do you know what that means? Lies, coverup, redefinitions of simple words like is, and obfusication.

-- abe (bbb@ccc.ddd), November 25, 2000.

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