As I watched the first debate between the presidential hopefuls on the evening of October 3, 2000, the face that kept haunting me was Tipper Gore's.
I kept thinking about her as she was at the podium giving her speech at the Democratic Convention this past summer, eagerly assuring all of us what wonderful hunk of sweetcakes Al is. A great husband, a great dad, a great son-in-law, a great Frisbee-thrower-and-Alpo-can-opener for poor old arthritic Shiloh. Then there was that painful little piece called "The Gore Family Album" which included pictures of the pair from the time Tipper was a co-ed and her beau Al a mere sapling, all the way up until the present day… calculated to show us what we'd never known before, which is that Al's our buddy, a regular guy just like alla youse out there.
You could hardly fault a woman for being fond of her own husband, but now I have to wonder if Tipper's telling us the real truth. Is Al really as nice a guy as she says he is? Watching the debate the other night, I'd have to say that I think not.
First of all, there are all the new lies that fall from his lips like spotted toads. There were several, but my favorite one was the one about traveling to Texas while the wild fires raged, being there to Comfort and Sustain the People – and incidentally implying that the Texas governor was sitting in his air-conditioned office with his feet kicked up on his desk, playing with a Zippo instead of getting out there with a bucket of water and a firm handclasp, like a real man – an Al Gore type of man — would do. And then we heard: Oh, yeah. I forgot. I was in Texas, I guess, but I was fund-raising in a completely different part of the (very large) state and never was anywhere near the fires or all those needy, sooty people…
As the pressure on Al Gore to win this election mounts, the lies pop out alarmingly and land on the floor by his shoes, hopping around and making a nuisance of themselves. And here we all thought that Bill Clinton was the liar…ha! Clinton's lies were the lies of a nervous and defensive ten-year-old, designed to help him keep himself out of trouble. ["No, Dad, I swear I didn't steal those cigarettes from the grocery. Honest! I can't believe you don't trust me..."] But Al Gore's brand of shamelessly self-aggrandizing propaganda is a different thing altogether: he seems ruthlessly desperate not to stop until we all acknowledge the extraordinary sacrifices he has personally made to help our society evolve into Utopia. You all know Utopia, don't you? That's the place where no one drives a car.
Would a really decent and good person embrace mendacity so wholeheartedly?
And then there was his behavior at the debate. Sighing, snorting, rolling his eyes, snickering…he ran the entire gamut of bratty adolescent body language, the kind of stuff that got most of us smacked when we did it in front of our parents. As I recall my own little mannerisms of twenty-odd years ago, I think that perhaps the only thing Gore didn't do was point his finger down his throat and make a gagging noise.
And yet I hear a couple of days later that this is Gore's "style" as a "master debater." To make his opponent angry and make him defensive. To throw off his opponent's concentration by constant little interruptions. To hog extra minutes by refusing to shut up even after being warned. Well, I've had some experience with debate, and trust me – this isn't it. A "master debater" doesn't have to resort to foolishness because he knows that the substance what he's going to say will be enough to confound his opponent. "Master debater," my foot. And I don't think that a decent person would ever feel the need to resort to cheap tricks like we saw the other evening.
Given the other little quirk I've already mentioned, do you wonder if all this stuff is just who Al Gore really is? In truth, perhaps he is the pompous, petulant, glory-grabber that we see so often in his public persona. Did Tipper lie to us when she told us what a grand guy her husband is? If she was lying, no wonder the poor woman has suffered from depression. It would take a Zoloft the size of a blueberry breakfast muffin just to make it through the day.
The day after the debate, Al Gore continued with his smug egoism by remarking to a crowd in Ohio, "Well, I don't know about you, but I think even though Governor Bush and I have a lot of differences, personally I think it is better to spend time attacking America's problems than attacking people personally."
What Al Gore in his stunning complacency hasn't even considered is that he IS one of America's problems. And it isn't just George W. Bush that thinks so.
Shelley McKinney is a political writer whose work regularly appears in several Internet journals. She takes great pleasure in exposing the politically correct for their lack of logical thought.