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Jewish World Review March 1, 2001/ 6 Adar, 5761


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Consumer Reports

Will AlGore dare to be bold? -- BACK to the pouting Mr. Gore. One has to assume that he's spoiling for a rematch with President Bush in 2004. After all, as every liberal pundit points out almost daily, he did win the popular vote in November and ought to be not only the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, but also the party's leader for the next four years.

Instead, he meekly let Clinton assume that role, muttering about bimbos, fundraising scandals and the long list of the 42nd president's ethical failings to those friends who care to share a Miller Lite with him in private conversations at his Northern Virginia home.

Instead, since none of the other aspirants for the nod-Biden, Edwards, Kerry, Wellstone, Lieberman and probably 14 more-has the balls to definitively denounce Clinton for his shoddy, and possibly illegal, last-minute deals in the White House, why doesn't Gore grab the opportunity for himself? He's not in office now, and it's not as if he'd lose any credibility with his colleagues or the public: as it is, he's seen as a pathetic loser. The base of the Democratic Party-charlatans and cretins like Kweisi Mfume and Maxine Waters-has nowhere else to go in the next election.

If Gore let the media know he'd be giving a speech about the current state of American politics-translation, Clinton's devastating damage to the Democratic Party-he'd be given a war hero's welcome and would dominate the news cycle for the next week. It'd be a snap. After a few jokes and jabs at Bush's tax cut proposal, he'd launch into a vigorous critique of Clinton's behavior. Gore is always self-righteous, but in this case he has the evidence on his side: any amount of finger-pointing would be excused, especially since he's been treated so shabbily by the daytime King of Harlem.

I'd advise that he ditch Bob Shrum as the speechwriter and find a young firebrand who's up to the job.

It might read something like this: "Although I worked side by side with President Clinton on many important achievements for the American people, and was, to a point, proud to serve as his vice president, it's time that he left the political arena. The Democratic Party-in fact, the entire country-has been diminished by his conduct since November's election and I want to disassociate myself from his self-aggrandizing mea culpas, pardons-for-sale all-nighters in the Oval Office and grubby disregard for the public trust. Tipper and I are broken-hearted by the-and I don't use this word lightly-shenanigans of Jack Quinn, Roger Clinton, Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clinton, Beth Dozoretz, Bruce Lindsey, Eric Holder, Denise Rich (who apparently was a more frequent visitor to the White House than I was!) and [clears his throat] Terry McAuliffe.

"As you all know, I have the most profound respect for President Carter, not only for his commitment to human rights while in office but also for his selfless work on behalf of the poor in the years since he left Washington. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are true national treasures. And I agree with President Carter's remarks of Feb. 20, when he said, undoubtedly with a heavy heart: 'A number of [the pardons] were quite questionable, including about 40 not recommended by the Justice Department. I don't think there is any doubt that some of the factors in his pardon [of Marc Rich] were attributable to his large gifts. In my opinion, that was disgraceful.'

"And while President Carter's chief-of-staff, my friend Hamilton Jordan, was quite harsh in a Wall Street Journal article, especially when he compared Mr. and Mrs. Clinton to 'grifters,' I can't argue with his conclusion. Let me second Hamilton's opinion. He wrote: 'It is incredible that the ethical atmosphere of the Clinton White House had sunk to a level whereby the constitutional power of a president to issue a pardon was discussed among Mr. Clinton and his White House staff as just one more perk of office.'

"I don't often agree with the political views of my journalistic colleagues at the National Review, but I do believe that Florence King was most profound in quoting Thomas De Quincey, who wrote: 'If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.' "I won't take much more of your valuable time, but let me close in repeating that I am my own man. I don't agree with the bulk of President Bush's agenda, and will fight tooth and nail against his give-to-the-rich proposals, but I respect his presidency and believe he's correct when he says that it's time to move on. To my fellow Democrats, let me say that our party is in peril; all the hard work that we've embarked on on behalf of all Americans is currently clouded by President Clinton's unethical actions and refusal to leave the national stage. I plan to devote the next two years, every day and every night, to returning control of Congress to our party.

"I know my comments today are unprecedented and perhaps the equivalent of political suicide. But I refuse to stand by while the important issues of the day are obscured by events in the past two months. If I'm relegated to the dustbin of history, so be it. I ask my fellow patriots in the Democratic Party to join me in a new beginning, a declaration to put the past behind us, the petty squabbles and unseemly high concentration of campaign fundraising, and go back to work for the American people."

And that would be first home run of Al Gore's career.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2000, Russ Smith