Our ingrained American distrust of concentrated power has very little to do with the character or persona of the individual who wields that power. It is the power itself that must be constrained, checked, dispersed and carefully balanced, in order to ensure the survival of freedom.
So says Al Gore in his well-worded June 24th, 2004 speech. I am glad he gets the point. I am also pretty sure that this is precisely the point our current administration doesn't get.
I am far from idealizing the USA that the Founding Fathers created,- at the time they created it. For one thing, the country were ideals of equality were proclaimed had a large population of slaves deprived of most rights. But it is precisely the point that implementation of principles recorded in the Constitution, idealistic as they may be, is precisely what we should work towards, not abandon.
Gore was for a long time timid in his criticism of the administration. He did it in a controlled, round-about way. That time seems to be over,- which in my opinion is all for the better.
...President Bush and Vice President Cheney have decided to fight to the rhetorical death over whether or not there's a meaningful connection between Iraq and al-Qaida. They think that if they lose that argument and people see the truth, then they'll not only lose support for the controversial decision to go to war, but also lose some of the new power they've picked up from the Congress and the courts, and face harsh political consequences at the hands of the American people. As a result, President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.There is one thing that Bush and his people are good at,- not allowing reality to get in their way. As Gore put it,
If he is not lying, if they genuinely believe that, that makes them unfit in battle with al-Qaida. If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick.
So when the bipartisan 9/11 commission issued its report finding "no credible evidence" of an Iraq-al-Qaida connection, it should not have caught the White House off guard. Yet instead of the candor Americans need and deserve from their leaders, there have been more denials and more insistence without evidence. Vice President Cheney insisted even this week that "there clearly was a relationship" and that there is "overwhelming evidence." Even more shocking, Cheney offered this disgraceful question: "Was Iraq involved with al-Qaida in the attack on 9/11? We don't know." He then claimed that he "probably" had more information than the commission, but has so far refused to provide anything to the commission other than more insults.And I guess they are certainly entitled to their opinions, and opinions are subjective, and I welcome their right to express their opinions. Personally, I would prefer if they did so as private citizens, and hopefully come January 2005 they will become exactly that.
The President was even more brazen. He dismissed all questions about his statements by saying "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaida, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida." He provided no evidence.
Gore may have given a bit of a short shrift to the issue of media censorship in the post-9/11 America,- or self-censorship, which in the final run amounts to pretty much the same thing. However it is welcome news that he raised the issue.
Dan Rather says that post-9/11 patriotism has stifled journalists from asking government officials "the toughest of the tough questions." Rather went so far as to compare administration efforts to intimidate the press to "necklacing" in apartheid South Africa, while acknowledging it as "an obscene comparison." "The fear is that you will be necklaced here (in the U.S.), you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck," Rather explained. It was CBS, remember, that withheld the Abu Ghraib photographs from the American people for two weeks at the request of the Bush administration.Overall, this was a good speech