Alexander's Column

Debate Bait

Mark Alexander · Oct. 6, 2000

The debate was no debacle for deBush! But it was chock full o’ missed opportunities for George Bush to make the clear case for freedom and liberty. (Apparently, Mr. Bush’s handlers did not pay attention to the Tuesday Brief’s section listing the questions and zingers our readers wanted to hear George W. pin on Albert Gore.)

Before commenting on Bush v. Gore – more specifically Albert Gore’s “facts” – we should note that Dick Cheney missed few opportunities in his debate with Joe Lieberman. Unlike Mr. Bush, who repeatedly failed to challenge Gore’s assertion that he invented the economy, the highlight of Cheney v. Lieberman – the most uproarious moment of either debate – came when Gore’s veep was giving his man credit for “22 million new jobs…4 million new businesses…lower interest rates, low rate of inflation, high rate of growth.” Lieberman then took a shot at Mr. Cheney: “And I’m pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you’re better off than you were eight years ago, too.”

Without missing a beat, Cheney fired back, “I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.” Lieberman, befuddled by the audience laughter, interrupted moderator Bernie Shaw’s next question saying, “I can see my wife, and I think she’s thinking, ‘Gee, I wish he would go out into the private sector’.” Again, right on Lieberman’s heels, Cheney responded, “Well, I’m going to try to help you do that, Joe.”

Mr. Cheney, who has been portrayed by Gore’s media as a stuff-shirt, established himself as the major asset on this ticket The Federalist proclaimed him to be. Suffice it to say, conservatives should take some comfort in Cheney, even though his name is below Mr. Bush!

Lieberman’s goofiest line of the night came when Bernie Shaw apologized for asking a question out of order. Lieberman replied, “Good for you, Jim, it means you’re human, like we are.” Jim? Of course, Android Gore could never get away with the line, “human, like we are.”

The biggest lie in Cheney v. Lieberman – and it was a whopper – was Lieberman’s claim, “I have not changed a single position on an issue since Al Gore nominated me as his vice president.” Lieberman has reversed his positions on privatizing Social Security and school vouchers. He has reversed his position on moral issues, prompting Rabbi Yehuda Levin to say at the National Press Club yesterday, “We want the Christian community to know how Lieberman is viewed, and that’s as a scandal and an embarrassment.”

Memo to Mr. Lieberman: In the future, if you are going to quote the Declaration of Independence, please quote it correctly. It is no more open for liberal interpretation than our Constitution.

On to Bush v. Gore….

Mr. Bush repeatedly failed to confront Gore’s erroneous mantra “spend the surplus on tax cuts.” Gore must be held accountable for this insidious adulteration of the English language. Wanting to leave a little more of American’s hard-earned dollars in their own pockets does not constitute “spending” government largess. It’s our money!

When Gore commented that he went to Vietnam because if he didn’t, “Someone else from my hometown of Carthage, Tennessee, would have to go in my place,” Mr. Bush should have countered this folklore spin to say, “First, your hometown is Washington, D.C. And second, only a few months into your one-year ‘tour’ in Vietnam as a ‘visiting journalist,’ you got special dispensation to come home and go to divinity school – where you flunked out. I suppose someone else from your hometown of Carthage, Tennessee, had to finish your tour in your place.”

When Jim Lehrer asked, “Governor Bush, are there issues of character that distinguish you from Vice President Gore?” Bush softly made the point that Gore has repeatedly deceived the nation on a wide range of issues. “I think that people need to be held responsible for the actions they take in life. I think that that’s part of the need for a cultural change. We need to say that each of us needs to be responsible for what we do. And people in the highest office of the land must be responsible for decisions they make in life.”

Gore, in his bid to dodge the character question and be perceived as “above” the character issue, responded, “Well, I think we ought to attack our country’s problems, not attack each other.” Of course, that was Gorespeak code for “My character is so full o’ holes that I dare not say a word about my opponent’s character.” Indeed, Gore is hoping that Americans have been so demoralized after eight years of Clinton-Gore antics that they are suffering “character fatigue.”

Gore continued, “I am asking you, again, to see me for who I really am.” Bush missed a grand opportunity to say, “Your Democrat colleague, Bill Bradley, sees you for who you really are. He asked you, ‘Why should we believe you will tell the truth as President if you don’t tell the truth as a candidate?’ Albert, I didn’t hear your answer.”

Of course, Gore’s pattern of deceit is nothing new. In 1988, his primary opponent Michael Dukakis asked him, “If you want to be president of the United States, you better start by being accurate.” Apparently, Gore and Clinton were evenly matched on the dissembling scale. Gore just lacks Clinton’s libidinous instincts.

Mr. Bush declared, “I am pro-life.” But he fumbled the RU-486 question and did not challenge Gore’s assertion that he would sign a partial-birth abortion bill “if it allows for the life and health of the woman.” There are no medical grounds for killing a partially born child “for the life and health” of a woman. The gruesome procedure creates more risks for the mother of the child being killed.

Gore called Mr. Bush “anti-choice,” adding that he was the “pro-choice” candidate who would support a “woman’s right to choose.” As always, Gore never actually said what choice he was talking about. Perhaps he has enough residual character to still be sufficiently repulsed by killing babies before birth that he can’t bring himself to say the word.

On the important issue of Supreme Court appointments, Bush stated he favors the appointment of “strict constructionists” of the letter of our Constitution, while Gore promised judicial activists who thumb their noses at original intent and favor the “living document” ruse for rewriting our founding document. Gore said, “Governor Bush has declared to the anti-choice groups that he will appoint justices in the mold of Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are known for being the most vigorous opponents of a woman’s right to choose. … And when the phrase that strict constructionist is used, and when the names of Scalia and Thomas are used as benchmarks for who would be appointed, those are code words and nobody should mistake this, for saying that the governor would appoint people who would overturn Roe v. Wade. I mean ,just – it’s very clear to me.”

Gore did not mention that he supported the nomination of Justice Antonin Scalia in 1986. Of course, Bush did not say, “Albert, a few years ago you stated that abortion was ‘arguably the taking of a human life.’ What new information changed your opinion?”

Bush stumbled on a few other questions – of course, as Ronald Reagan amply demonstrated, that is what good advisors are for. And when it comes to any issue, whose advisors are likely to provide direction that is more in line with conservatives?

Overall, despite the fact that Bush has poor elocution, he came across as genuine and affable – not just a politico – who, in contrast with Al Gore, does not seem to need the presidency to fill some personality deficit. Bush touched on the need for limited government and a renewed national character.

Gore, on the other hand, seemed programmed, arrogant and petulant in his promotion of the central government. The cadence of his delivery was android-like, and, as National Review Online noted, “He kept…ex-AG-ger-a-ting his…in-TO-nations in that weird way of his.”

In our assessment, the debate was a draw, which favors Bush because he did not perform as poorly as expected. But Gore was the uncontested victor in the distortion, fabrication, and falsehood division. For more on the Vice Prevaricator’s undefeatable mendacity, see this week’s Body Politic feature, “THERE HE GOES AGAIN….”

It is worth noting that before Mr. Bush left Boston Wednesday morning, he received the endorsement of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, representing 1,900 Massachusetts troopers and sergeants. “The governor has earned our respect through his tough, fair and effective policies on law and order. We support his leadership in ending parole for repeat offenders, for passing some of the toughest sex offender laws in the country, and for taking a stand against juvenile crime,” said John Cofleski, Massachusetts SPA president.

Mr. Bush also was endorsed by Massachusetts State Rep. Brian Golden, a prominent Democrat hailing from Boston, who serves on the state’s education committee. Mr. Golden said, “[Bush’s education plan] is a model of what works in turning around troubled school systems. There is no place for partisanship if we are truly committed to the success of our nation’s children.”

THERE HE GOES AGAIN….

“[R]ight out of the box, the vice president began hedging the truth.” –Boston Globe.

“At the first opportunity, he lied.” –New York Post

That most erudite of Democrats, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once noted, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.” Apparently, based on his debate performance last Tuesday night, Albert Gore has decided there is “no controlling legal authority” concerning facts.

Gore repeatedly took credit for the economy. Bush missed a grand opportunity to pick up a tried and true line from Ronald Reagan: “There he goes again. Albert, you didn’t invent the economy.” Gore said that the country had a triple dip recession in 1992, but the current economic expansion began, by all reputable economic estimates, in March 1991, almost two years before he took office. Fact: Even Gore’s own budget office (June 28, 1999 OMB Mid-Session Review) states, “The economic expansion that began in April 1991….”

Gore said that he would balance the budget. Fact: The nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste estimates that Gore’s total spending in the first five years of his administration totals $2.2 trillion (three times Bush’s $712 billion.) The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, in the same period, the general revenue and Social Security surpluses will be a total of $1.4 trillion. Gore’s “balanced budget” creates more deficit spending than Mr. Bush proposes in total new spending.

Gore said that he wants to cut taxes for middle class families. Fact: In 1992, the Clinton-Gore campaign said it “includes $104 billion in tax cuts over four years for the middle class, the working poor, and corporations that make smart investments to create jobs.” But after taking office, Gore cast the tie breaking vote on the largest tax increase in U.S. history, including $115 billion in higher personal income taxes, $31 billion in higher gasoline taxes, $25 billion in higher taxes on Social Security benefits, and $29 billion in more Medicare taxes. (Congressional Budget Office)

Gore said that Governor Bush spends more on the wealthiest 1% of Americans than on education, health care, drugs, and defense combined. Fact: The largest percentage cuts in Mr. Bush’s tax plan go to those with the lowest incomes: A family of four making $35,000 would get a 100% cut in their income tax, about $1,500. A family of four making $50,000 would get a 50% cut in their income tax, about $2,000. A family of four making $75,000 would get a 25% cut in their income tax, about $2,500. Under the Bush plan, “the wealthiest 1%” actually pay a larger percentage of total taxes than they do now. The share of income taxes paid by people making over $100,000 will rise to 64.1% from 61.9%. The bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the Bush tax plan will save taxpayers $1.3 trillion over 2001-10, about 25% of the $4.6 trillion estimated surplus under current tax rates.

Gore said, “I have actually not questioned Bush’s experience. I have questioned his proposals.” Fact: In a recent New York Times article, Gore said of Bush, “Does he have the experience to be president?”

Gore crowed that he fought for welfare reform. Fact: Bill Clinton, Al Gore smiling at his side, vetoed welfare reform not once, but twice. After public opinion swung in favor of welfare reform, Clinton-Gore signed it into law only then to provide all manner of “exemptions.” Gore had no role at all in welfare reform!

Gore said that he would take on big oil companies. Fact: Al Gore has a long personal and financial history with Occidental Petroleum, the same company that was involved in the Love Canal contamination, which Gore once claimed to have led the fight to clean up.

Gore said that he wants to free the U.S. from “Big Oil” and OPEC. Fact: Dependence on foreign oil increased under Clinton-Gore, with imports up 34% since 1992, while U.S. production, due in large measure to absurd Clintonista environmental and land management regulations, has decreased 18% – to the lowest level since 1954.

Gore said that Mr. Bush’s budget takes $1 trillion out of Social Security. Fact: Economic Security 2000 (ES 2000) found that “Gore’s accounting defies credibility. From 2015 to 2037, there’s a missing $4.3 trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund, because the money has been spent and is a debt, an IOU. Then, from 2038 to 2054, there’s a missing $6.069 trillion.”

Gore said that passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill would be his first act as President. Bush hit back hard: “You know, this man has no credibility on the issue. As a matter of fact, [Gore] said he cosponsored the McCain-Feingold campaign fund-raising bill, but he wasn’t in the Senate with Senator Feingold. … I am not going to lay down my arms in the middle of a campaign for somebody who has got no credibility on the issue.” Fact: Gore has collected more campaign donations from lobbyists than any other presidential candidate. “The problem with pandering, as Vice President Gore is fast learning, is that once you start, it’s hard to kick the habit,” says Dana Milbank, senior editor of liberal New Republic. Short of credibility on the issue of campaign finance reform, Gore took a page from Clinton’s denials, and tried to divert the issue into one of “character assassination.” “I think it’s better to spend time attacking America’s problems than attacking people personally. I think we need to build our country up instead of tearing somebody else down.” Obviously, Gore feels exposed on this issue, and Bush needs to hammer him!

And a footnote on McCain-Feingold: In March, Gore promised, “I would – my first act as President – will be to resubmit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate.” Of course, that was a different audience.

Gore said that he has always fought for campaign finance reform. Fact: We checked, and Gore did not mention campaign finance reform in his 1992 speech to the Democratic National Convention or his 1996 speech to the Democratic National Convention, nor in his 1999 speech announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. And, for the record, John McCain said Gore’s fund-raising tactics constituted “incredible abuses of the institutions of government and every ethical standard.”

Other Gory “facts”…

Gore said he worked with President Reagan in support of his defense plans in the 1980s. Even the most nescient political observer knows this claim is a lie.

After being complimented by Mr. Bush for the job the Federal Emergency Management Agency did responding to wildfires in west Texas, Gore claimed that he had personally come to Texas with FEMA director James Witt to visit the stricken areas. Bush looked a bit puzzled by Gore’s response – for good reason.
Fact: Gore did visit the region in the period of time the fires were burning, but not with FEMA helping people out. He was there to attend a fund-raiser at the home of the former head of the Texas trial lawyers – and for the rest of that story, see “The most ethical administration” above!

On the education issue, Gore, a dedicated water boy for the NEA, argued that some of the “surplus” Mr. Bush was “spending on the richest 1%” should go to schools such as a Sarasota, Florida, high school where a father showed him a picture of his daughter standing in her science class because the room was so overcrowded she had no place to sit. Fact: The principal of that school, Daniel Kennedy, reports, “It would have been good if the facts had been checked before [Gore] was encouraged to use that information in a national debate. The picture he was referring to was taken maybe the first or second day of school…when we were in the process of leveling classes. And, she did have an opportunity to use a lab stool, which was also available in the classroom. But we were refurbishing that classroom and in the back of that picture, if you look carefully, you can see probably about $100,000 worth of new lab equipment that was waiting to be unpacked, which is one of the reasons the room looked as crowded. … We have 2,480 students on a practically brand-new campus. In my opinion, it’s one of the top high schools in the nation right now. We don’t have any portable classrooms. All of our students are in regular classes and we have 900 computers, 600 Internet sites.”

Finally, as for the price of prescription medication and the hot-button Medicare issue, there was the saga of Mrs. Winifred Skinner, the 79-year-old widow who picks up cans so she can afford to pay for food after she pays $250 a month for her prescriptions. Fact: Our friend Scott Hogenson, executive editor of CNS, contacted Mrs. Skinner and found that she does not want federal assistance. “No, no, I don’t want the taxpayers to pay for my medicine. I’m a proud person and I want to earn it and I want to do it on my own. I don’t accept charity, and I don’t get food stamps. I qualify, but I don’t get them because I don’t want the taxpayers to support me.” Sounds like Mrs. Skinner has hitched her wagon to the wrong mascot!

But Gore-Lieberman’s media sycophants have already created an Algorista folk hero out of little Ms. Winifred, regardless of the facts. “She’s no child, but she belongs on a poster about high drug costs,” proclaims Gore mouthpiece Dan Rather.

Gore said that Mrs. Winifred drove her Winnebago RV 1,300 miles from her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, to Boston for the debate. Those RV’s get about 7 miles per gallon, while empty cans bring about 5 cents. Her round trip will cost about 13,000 cans. Hope she does not expect Gore to pick up the tab. He doesn’t pay a dime more to take care of slum tenants than HILLARY! drops in tips for single mom waitresses!

And that’s a fact!

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