Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Right Man at the Right Time

I've said before that Al Gore has the distinct quality among modern politicians of being right on nearly every major issue, years before they become popular. It was true on the environment. It was true on terrorism. And it was true on Iraq, where Al Gore holds the rarefied position of being correct about both Gulf War I and II.

However, some conservatives have taken his hawkish Gulf War I words and tried to accuse Gore of "shameless political opportunism" and being a "craven opportunist". And the righties have piled on.

This is almost (a few years ago I'd have dropped the "almost", but my standards have dipped since then) unbelievably dense. It's as if they can't even conceptualize that the threat Iraq posed America could have possibly changed in the decade between Gulf War I and II. Amazingly enough, the world continues to spin, and things do change. Can you imagine hearing this argument?
"In 1918, Democrats said that Italy was an ally in our fight against Germany. But now we have a clip from 1942 where Democrats say that Italy's actually a fascist regime that threatens the free world? Which is it, you craven flip-flopping opportunists?"

Iraq, in the 1980s, was a brutal dictatorship that was actively committing genocide (with chemical weapons), with our support. Iraq, in the early 90s, was a brutal dictatorship that still had said chemical weapons and had proven itself to be an international threat by invading another country. Thus, Al Gore made the right decision, supporting the first Gulf War, while noting that much of this unpleasantness could have been avoided if Reagan/Bush hadn't decided to get cozy with Saddam Hussein in the first place. Iraq, in the 90s after the war, was contained and disarmed through the policies of the Clinton/Gore administration. And thus, as the 21st century began, Iraq, while still a brutal dictatorship, was not a threat to America or the region, nor did it have WMDs, and thus Al Gore (again) made the right decision to oppose launching an unnecessary war. Speaking as someone who was not on Gore's side on Gulf War II, this logic is not difficult to follow.

Steve Benen sets the record straight:
Gore said Saddam Hussein was dangerous in 1992. That’s true. Gore said Bush 41 looked the other way while Saddam got more dangerous. That’s true. Gore said the U.S. needed to do more to address the Iraqi threat, and then was part of the administration that disarmed Saddam’s regime. That’s true. Years later, Gore said a war against Iraq was unnecessary and would be a tragic mistake. That’s true.

It's all true, and thus we get back to the title: Al Gore was right then, and now, and throughout the last 15 years. That deserves accolades, not scorn. Unfortunately, they say that folks will forgive you for being wrong, but they'll never forgive you for being right. Al Gore's finding that out right now.

The real irony is that part of the "old" Gore speech, the one he gave in the early 90s before he got all lily-livered and flip-floppity, was that Reagan and Bush actively cooperated with Saddam Hussein, aligning themselves with a psychotic dictator who (with our support) gassed his own citizens. That, too, is true, but do these bloggers really want to make an argument of which the base premise is "Reagan supported the terrorists?" Apparently so.

1 comment:

Will said...

Heh, I'm not a righty, but thanks for the link.

I think the video from gulf war one is relevant because Gore just came out with his book where he expressed the opposite views. Also, the case can be made (and I'm ashamed to say I made it myself in 2003) that Iraq was a bigger threat after 9/11. Now, I'm not so sure, but one could make the case and the case was much stronger ex-ante.

I linked to the video because its a good example of how duplicitous politicians (like Gore) are.

This is coming from someone that would seriously consider voting for Gore if he were to run in 2008.