Watching Al Gore give a lively speech is like watching Yoda in a lightsaber fight.
Gore continues to prove that he is much more capable of rocking the house now than when he was a candidate. In his latest speech Gore accused the administration of lying about an Al Qaeda-Iraq Link.
“Beginning very soon after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush made a decision to start mentioning Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the same breath in a cynical mantra designed to fuse them together as one in the public’s mind…
“The Bush administration’s objective of establishing U.S. domination over any potential adversary led to the hubristic, tragic miscalculation of the Iraq war, a painful adventure marked by one disaster after another based on one mistaken assumption after another…
“But the people who paid the price have been the U.S. soldiers trapped over there and the Iraqis in prison.
“They dare not admit the truth lest they look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever … If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick.”
RNC spokesman Jim Dyke fired back with a statement that criticized Gore. “Al Gore’s history of denial of the threat of terrorism is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry’s surrogate than it was in the 1990s in his role as vice president, a time when Osama bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times.”
Dyke’s response strikes me as quite ineffective. First, Al Gore was ripping the administration for shifting the focus from Al Qaeda to Iraq. Dyke’s statement does a pretty good job of distinguishing between Saddam’s less imminent threat as compared to bin Laden’s repeated declarations of war. Also, any idictment of the Clinton team is by extension a critique of Bush’s pre-9-11 tenure.
But we can see some predictable signals of the future tone of the campaign from the Bush side. First, every negative comment about this administration will be attributed to a John Kerry “surrogate.” Second, those who criticize Bush and/or Cheney will be described as dangerous or worse. And third and always, there will be an effort (still) to merge any discussion of Iraq with a discussion of 9-11 and Al Qaeda. (Except when it comes to prisoners in which case we will hear of a strong distinction between those captured in the war on terror and those captured in Iraq – even though the war in Iraq is described as the war on terror.)