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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Sunday, November 09, 2003


transcript: Gore speech

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, November 09, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Possibly the most critical excerpt:

Indeed, this Administration has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. A government of and for the people is supposed to be generally open to public scrutiny by the people -- while the private information of the people themselves should be routinely protected from government intrusion.

But instead, this Administration is seeking to conduct its work in secret even as it demands broad unfettered access to personal information about American citizens. Under the rubric of protecting national security, they have obtained new powers to gather information from citizens and to keep it secret. Yet at the same time they themselves refuse to disclose information that is highly relevant to the war against terrorism.

They are even arrogantly refusing to provide information about 9/11 that is in their possession to the 9/11 Commission – the lawful investigative body charged with examining not only the performance of the Bush Administration, but also the actions of the prior Administration in which I served. The whole point is to learn all we can about preventing future terrorist attacks,

Two days ago, the Commission was forced to issue a subpoena to the Pentagon, which has – disgracefully – put Secretary Rumsfeld’s desire to avoid embarrassment ahead of the nation’s need to learn how we can best avoid future terrorist attacks. The Commission also served notice that it will issue a subpoena to the White House if the President continues to withhold information essential to the investigation.

And the White House is also refusing to respond to repeated bipartisan Congressional requests for information about 9/11 – even though the Congress is simply exercising its Constitutional oversight authority. In the words of Senator McCain, “Excessive administration secrecy on issues related to the September 11 attacks feeds conspiracy theories and reduces the public’s confidence in government.”

In a revealing move, just three days ago, the White House asked the Republican leadership of the Senate to shut down the Intelligence Committee’s investigation of 9/11 based on a trivial political dispute. Apparently the President is anxious to keep the Congress from seeing what are said to have been clear, strong and explicit warnings directly to him a few weeks before 9/11 that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial airliners and use them to attack us.
This Administration simply does not seem to agree that the challenge of preserving democratic freedom cannot be met by surrendering core American values. Incredibly, this Administration has attempted to compromise the most precious rights that America has stood for all over the world for more than 200 years: due process, equal treatment under the law, the dignity of the individual, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from promiscuous government surveillance. And in the name of security, this Administration has attempted to relegate the Congress and the Courts to the sidelines and replace our democratic system of checks and balances with an unaccountable Executive. And all the while, it has constantly angled for new ways to exploit the sense of crisis for partisan gain and political dominance. How dare they!

This speech is important. It lays out exactly how the President has failed. And this speech is a powerful weapon against Bush, if our caqndidate can use it. The point here is that the "GOP strong on national security" is not just false, but that the opposite is actively true: the GOP and the Administration play games with our security for political power, and then cry foul when the Democrats and others try to shed light. How dare they!

Who's weak on defense? BUSH. This theme, hammered home, and expertly leveraged using the funds we all know that Dean has amassed, is the key. We don't need Wesley Clark on the ticket to provide foreign policy gravitas, we just have to show, as Gore has done, that Bush is the threat.

Dean needs to pay attention to this speech, and integrate Gore's ideas into his campaign. Only he, by virtue of having been against the Iraq adventurism, can speak credibly on this. And as the front-runner he has to use his own bully pulpit to push the case against Bush, and rise above the Democratic nomination fray. Bush is the ONLY target, and wooing swing voters means that national security is the ONLY topic. Gore has given us the key. Dean must unlock the door.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.