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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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Wednesday, August 06, 2003


Gore to deliver major speech tomorrow

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, August 06, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Al Gore has been almost entirely dormant for a while - except for a brief, shining moment last September when Gore had a prophetic speech about Iraq and why Bush had not made the case for war. The Washington Times draws analogies to the candidates' positions today:

In the Sept. 23 speech, Mr. Gore foreshadowed the criticisms of Mr. Bush that have been championed of late by three front-runners for the Democratic nomination for president — Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.

Mr. Gore said then that the war in Iraq would distract from tracking down "those who attacked us on September 11 and have thus far gotten away with it."

The president's doctrine to "pre-emptively attack whomsoever he may deem represents a potential future threat" was unwise, he said, and would alienate international allies that the United States needs to fight global terrorism.

Mr. Gore also blasted the Bush administration for failing to "clarify its idea of what is to follow regime change" in Iraq, a theme echoed most strongly by Mr. Kerry.

While insisting that Mr. Bush get additional international "permission" to invade Iraq, Mr. Gore, nonetheless, conceded that Saddam "does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf" because "we know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Mr. Dean and Mr. Kerry have criticized Mr. Bush for the failure to uncover evidence of any weapons of mass destruction program in Iraq.

If Gore's speech tomorrow goes further and layts out a case for how Bush is loing the peace, both in Iraq and in the broader goal against Al-Qaeda, it's hard to see how any of the other candidates would benefit more than Dean, since the other major players all voted to support Bush.

However, there is also the possibility that the speech will be an attempt to undermine Dean, if Gore has signed onto the DLC's philosophy (which personally I don't see any reason to believe). The article speculates:

Brian Lunde, former executive director of the Democratic National Committee, characterized Mr. Gore's speech last year as a "sucker punch and run away." And while Mr. Gore might "get his shots in" on Thursday, Mr. Lunde said he doesn't expect Mr. Gore to match the volume of Mr. Dean's antiwar rhetoric.

Rather, the speech might be part of a plan to "provide cover for the mainstream Democratic candidates" and "help be a Dean slayer" by trying to move the momentum of the party away from the far left.

"He will warn the party," Mr. Lunde said. "I think there's growing concern that Howard Dean might not just be a flavor of the month, but be a real political movement."

I don't think this is likely, though. Gore has credibility on criticizing the Iraq war because he voted in favor of the first Gulf War while in the Senate. And the bulk of his speech last year was about the need for international and multilateral solutions - both of these are Dean's own major talking points now. Gore must see that Dean is his intellectual heir when it comes to the second Gulf War.

And most importantly, Dean is runnin the campaign that Gore wanted to. Gore introduced populist rhetoric in 2000 - Dean is living it, making it real. And there is of course Dean's use of the Internet, which is exactly the kind of innovation that Gore has been prosletyzing throughout his long career.

Either way, tomorrow will be interesting...


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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.