SEPTEMBER 21, 2003 - We not only
have heard this on right-wing media, not only in the mainstream media,
but, in general, this has been a universally accepted statement echoed
endlessly throughout the country.
The line of thinking goes that Al Gore was
too indecisive and wouldn't have reacted as well to 9/11.
President Bush's strong and unwavering response was much better than
we would have gotten with Al. The President said, "Whoooeeee,
now you pissed us off," and unleashed all the deputies - and even the
dogs - and this was just what the country needed at the time.
This universal Gore-bashing - and
President Bush-praising - has gone absolutely unquestioned, by both
the people and the press. So, we at The Moderate Independent
have decided to look fully at the situation and see if indeed we were
lucky Florida played out the way it did - if, as some have put it, it
was a sort of divine intervention that Florida led to Bush's election
- or if, possibly, former Vice President Gore might not have been so
horrible if he was in charge on 9/11 as people think.
To look at this fairly, we have to start
before 9/11, because the reality is the President took office over 9
months before that day.
During the campaign, Al Gore had
repeatedly been criticized for being too "hands-on." He was a
"policy wonk" who wanted to be involved in all of the details, rather
than just delegate as Bush and the media said was a better way of
operating for a would-be President.
He also wanted America to continue to play
an active role in shaping world affairs, while President Bush wanted
hands off. Look at what Al Gore said during the Presidential
Debate at Wake Forest back on October 11, 2000 - exactly 11 months
before 9/11 would occur:
"This idea of nation building is kind of a
pejorative phrase, but think about the great conflict of the past
century, World War II. During the years between World War I and
World War II, a great lesson was learned by our military leaders and
the people of the United States. The lesson was that in the
aftermath of World War I, we kind of turned our backs and left them to
their own devices, and they brewed up a lot of trouble that quickly
became World War II."
Do those words now look misguided or
prophetic? If we don't stay actively involved in the important,
troubled regions of the world, it will just lead to more war, said V.P
Gore. What did then-Governor Bush say in response?
"Well -- I don't think so.
I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands
they live in to build the
nations. Maybe I'm missing something here."
Was he missing something?
Or was he in fact the one on the right page, that we should not stay
actively involved in world affairs but instead leave the world to deal
with its own problems.
We don't have to wonder any
longer, we have the record to look at. President Bush came into
office and chose to ignore Israel, break off all communications with
North Korea, and focus solely on domestic issues like getting his tax
cut passed and trying to get rights to drill in the Artic Wild Life
In the Spring of 2001,
President Bush was warned: terrorist 'chatter' about an attack
involving al Qaeda had increased to an unprecedented level. As
reported, a "U.S. official said the
'chatter' about bin Laden dated back to the Clinton administration but
"reached a pitch" in the spring of 2001 that it began to receive more
attention in intelligence circles and at the highest levels of
Now, Al Gore had been in the White House
for eight years. He was also someone prone to getting deeply
involved in a hands-on manner. It is not hard to imagine that Al
Gore would have recognized this new "pitch" as something to be
taken seriously, and as a hands-on person, would have ordered daily
briefings and told the intelligence agencies to stay on top of - and
forward to the top - all pertinent information.
President Bush's response? He asked
Vice President Cheney to begin a vague, overall assessment of our
terrorism preparedness by forming a, "task force to assess the
country's counter-terrorism effort." In other words, don't
bother me, just have Dick look into things. I'm busy with the
So while Dick was busy - or maybe not so
busy - looking into this, things like the now infamous "Phoenix memo"
were being ignored. You remember, the memo from an FBI agent
that, according to
CNN, cited "an unusual number of Arab students" taking flight
lessons in Arizona and raised "the suspicion that they had been sent
there in a coordinated plot by Osama bin Laden in order to learn the
U.S. civil aviation procedures."
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob
Graham (D-FL), when asked if this memo could have prevented 9/11, responded,
"Well, it might have been if this had been seen in the context of
other information, which indicated that there was a potential
conspiracy to use commercial airliners as weapons of mass destruction.
That could have started a chain of events, which would have disrupted
September 11, but unfortunately because the information was not placed
in the right hands or was distributed to too many places, there wasn't
a single point of contact for analysis and reporting of what was going
In the end, the Senator concluded, "We
failed to put the puzzle together before the horrific event."
Now picture if, instead of having a
President who knew - and cared - little about world affairs, and
simply responded to the warning of a seriously elevated new 'pitch' of
al Queda chatter by asking Dick to look into things, Al Gore had been
President. Picture if, back in Spring of 2001, we had a
President who would have recognized how serious the new "pitch" of al
Qaeda chatter was, and who was extremely hands-on, intelligent, and
interested in being active in world affairs - as opposed to President
Bush who criticized Al Gore for being so. The problem -
the thing that led to 9/11 not being thwarted - as the head of the
Senate Intelligence Committee said above, was that, "the information
was not placed in the right hands or was distributed to too many
places, there wasn't a single point of contact for analysis and
reporting of what was going on."
There was not a single point of contact
for analysis. After this Phoenix memo came out, and the
realization that we likely had enough information to thwart 9/11, but
what had been missing was, "a single point of contact for analysis,"
that could have put it all together, some people suggested creating a
new agency or position to put 2 and 2 together in the future.
Isn't that exactly what role the President
is supposed to play? All of the information was there, there
were just two problems: 1) The agencies had not been told
clearly enough to pay serious attention to all information regarding
such terrorist intelligence, and so memos like the Phoenix memo were
treated as nuisances or merely interesting things to be considered, if
at all, at a later date, and 2) The intelligence that was gathered
never reached one single point - and a single point intelligent and
active enough to put 2 and 2 together - a Captain Kirk on the bridge,
as opposed to an uninterested CEO-type who preferred video games and
counting tax cut riches to foreign affairs.
In an almost comical gesture, Senator
Diane Feinstein (D-CA) stepped to the floor of the Senate and, in a
statement to the President issued on June 19, 2002, said, "Mr.
President, I rise today to offer the Intelligence Community Leadership
Act of 2002. This legislation creates the position of Director of
National Intelligence to... coordinate our intelligence and
anti-terrorism efforts and help assure that the sort of communication
problems that prevented the various elements of our intelligence
community from working together effectively before September 11 never
We at The Moderate Independent could not
agree more - except for the name of the position. We think this
Intelligence Community Leadership Act should create a position called,
'A Competent, Intelligent, Actively Involved President.'
Unfortunately, the intelligent, educated,
hands-on President who would have demonstrated 'Intelligence Community
Leadership' all on his own, would have led the intelligence community
to heighten its alert and forward information about things like the
Phoenix memo to a 'single point of contact for analysis,' namely
himself, was not in office at the time.
So even from the beginning, the idea that
we should be "thankful" that President Bush was in office and not Al
Gore at the time of 9/11 holds no water - wouldn't it have been nicer
to have a President who at least gave us a chance at preventing 9/11
in the first place, just as the Clinton/Gore administration had
thwarted plots like the one to blow up LAX at the turn of the
But OK, 9/11 happened. So, should we
be thankful that President Bush was in office on that day instead of
Al Gore? Let's look at another comment from the 2000 President
Debate in Wake Forest. Tell me if you can guess who said the
Asked, "Should the people
of the world look at the United States... and say, should they fear
us? Should they welcome our involvement? Should they see
us as a friend, everybody in the world? How do you -- how would
you project us around the world, as president?"
The candidate replied, "It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself
in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent
us. If we're a humble nation but strong, they'll welcome us.
And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power,
and that's why we've got to be humble and yet project strength in a
way that promotes freedom. We're a freedom-loving nation.
And if we're an arrogant nation, they'll view us that way, but if
we're a humble nation, they'll respect us."
Yes, although this sounds
like exactly what the Democrats - Al Gore in particular - said in the
lead up to the war in Iraq in beckoning the President not to alienate
our allies and rush to war without UN involvement, this statement was
actually made by then-Governor Bush back on that day exactly 11 months
before 9/11 occurred.
Compare what Governor Bush said
what Al Gore said on September 23rd, 2002, in a speech warning the
President about the war he was rushing toward in Iraq:
is more important to note the consequences of an emerging national
strategy that not only celebrates American strengths, but appears to
be glorifying the notion of dominance. If what America represents to
the world is leadership in a commonwealth of equals, then our friends
are legion; if what we represent to the world is empire, then it is
our enemies who will be legion."
In other words, Georgie, remember that
stuff you said about having to be humble and not arrogant? It
only is useful if you actually apply it as President.
But as with so many things, President
Bush's words during the election cycle have proven not to relate to
his actions while in office.
If Al Gore were President, what course
would he have taken post-9/11? We need not wonder. He told
us very plainly - and no, not just now, after we see what Iraq is
turning into, but back in last September 2002, a half year before the war
began. Was he a wimp and weak, and we would have - as is
universally accepted - been far worse off if he was at the helm?
You judge what you now think of the course
he proposed back then - the point at which what he would have done and
what President Bush decided to do diverged plainly:
"I believe we should focus our efforts
first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and
have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who
sponsored, planned and implemented the cold blooded murder of more
than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor
apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that
we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task
simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than
predicted. Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump
from one unfinished task to another."
Such a stupid idea? Were we lucky we
didn't have him take us on this course - if 9/11 would have even
happened on his watch in the first place? Should we be grateful
we had a President who - without regard to the opinions of our allies
- brashly took the course of leading us alone to war in Iraq?
What else did "wimpy" and "wavering" Al
Gore have to say?
"I don't think that we should allow
anything to diminish our focus on avenging the 3,000 Americans who
were murdered and dismantling the network of terrorists who we know to
be responsible for it. The fact that we don't know where they are
should not cause us to focus instead on some other enemy whose
location may be easier to identify."
Now tell me, who turned out to be the
weaker man, unable to stay focused on the task at hand, who allowed
himself to be guided by aides and people with other interests and
opinions - such as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who
came up with the idea to go after Iraq as part of the War On Terror,
or Dick Cheney, who also took that view, with a big eye on the oil
there and the billions that would come his old company, Halliburton's,
way? Was it Al Gore who strayed - due to lack of courage and
taking too much advice from advisers - or was this in fact what
President Bush did?
Just as important a question to many, what
would Al Gore have done about Saddam Hussein? We need not
wonder, he told us, not now, after the fact, but before the current
Iraq mess began:
"We are perfectly capable of staying the
course in our war against Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network,
while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an
international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a
But President Bush refused to wait.
He said the Weapons of Mass Destruction were so massive and ready to
get us within hours that we had to go in now, and to hell with our
allies. Specifically, back at the same time Al Gore was making
the above statement, President "We need to be humble" Bush said to the
world at the UN,
“Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it
So, who do you think - knowing what you
do now - would have served our nation better as Commander-In-Chief at
this juncture in time? Did we need to go in immediately because
of WMD's? Did we, in fact, as President Bush and his
administration determined, not need world support or to truly build a
coalition, rather than just claiming to be building one for P.R.
purposes? (if you don't recall this, see our story
Nation After Nation Is Joining Our "Coalition Of The Willing")
Were the UN and our allies, in fact, irrelevant and unnecessary?
Well, let's let President Bush answer this
for himself. It is now almost a year to the day from when they
each made the above comments. Has Al Gore now come more toward
President Bush's original conclusion, or has President Bush had to
come scrambling back toward the advice Al had given way back then?
As the AP just reported on September 4,
"Shifting tactics and reaching out for help, the Bush administration
offered on Wednesday to share with the United Nations the
long-dominant U.S. role in Iraq's postwar reconstruction."
reported on September 20, "Recent weeks have shown significant
movement on the diplomatic front, as Washington has signaled it also
wants a greater role for the United Nations."
Wait, has anybody seen the report where Al
Gore is now saying he was wrong and thinks we should have acted
unilaterally against Iraq, offended our allies by calling them,
"irrelevant," and shifted focus from al Qaeda to Saddam? Right,
that story doesn't exist.
No, we don't see Al Gore saying, "Thank
God Bush is in charge and not me, because he is doing such a better
job than I ever could have." But we do see President Bush, with
his actions, saying, "Oh crap, why didn't I follow the course Al Gore
recommended in the first place - and I hope it is not too late now to
run back to that course."
Unfortunately, President Bush is still
President Bush, and he is incapable of addressing the issue in a
"humble" way. In his
State of the Union speech on September 7, President Bush was not
able to say he was wrong. Not about the WMD's. Not about
insulting our allies as irrelevant. And even then, he was not
able to "humble" himself in asking for world assistance.
Instead, he attempted his usual, arrogant, bullying tone, and
challenged the other nations of the world to live up to their,
It is their, "present duties," to save our
asses after we flipped them off and went it alone on a mission that was as unnecessary as they said it was? It is not
just something we are requesting of friends, but their duty?
This flipping the world off and going it
alone is exactly what has made so many people say, "Thank God we have
Bush as President and not Al Gore." That was his strong and
bold response in a situation where Al would have not been so gung ho
to go it alone.
In the current analysis, can anyone
usefully, intelligently, or accurately say anything but that: 1) If Al
Gore had been President, we would have had a much better chance of not
suffering the 9/11 attacks in the first place, and 2) If Al Gore had
been President, we would still be holding a strong, focused,
world-backed hand in the War On Terror rather than suffering the
consequences and humiliation of being turned into the battered,
groveling, weakened beggars - in desperate need economically as well
as bogged down militarily - that we now are.
As a last note, do not forget the economic
aspects of all of this. Going it alone in the war on Iraq is
costing us $4 billion a month, on top of President Bush's additional
requests for money - and all of this is coming on top of massive
deficits that already existed due to the President's economic
policies. Would things be better or worse in that regard if Al
Gore were President?
Let's return way back to October 11, 2000.
As Al Gore said back then during the Wake Forest debate:
"We have to protect our
capacity to push forward what America is all about. That means
not only military strength and our values, it also means keeping our
economy strong. You know, in the last -- oh, two decades ago, it
was routine for leaders of foreign countries to come over here and
say, "You guys have got to do something about these horrendous
deficits because it's causing tremendous problems for the rest of the
world." And we were lectured to all the time. The fact
that we have the strongest economy in history today... enables us to
project the power for good that America can represent."
Remember, he was not saying
this post 9/11, as he saw now-President Bush alienating our allies and
rushing us alone toward a war that would unnecessarily cost us
billions due to lack of allied support. No, this statement was
made 11 months before 9/11 even occurred, while President Bush was
still a Governor who was more interested in pushing through big tax
cuts - that he swore wouldn't create deficits - than focusing on
annoying, complicated things like foreign affairs. Way back in
2000, Al told of how being fiscally responsible - i.e. not running
deficits like the record breaking ones President Bush repeatedly tells
us not to worry about - was important to our
Then, on September 7, 2002
- still six months before Bush
initiated the Iraq war - Al warned about the costs of going it alone:
"The coalition assembled in 1991 paid all
of the significant costs of the war, while this time, the American
taxpayers will be asked to shoulder hundreds of billions of dollars in
costs on our own."
Again, has he been proven wrong, or
exactly right? Or was President Bush correct in his assertion
that we could afford economically to go it alone, that the Iraqi oil
would pay for the reconstruction costs without putting an unbearable
burden on the American taxpayers?
We clearly see two very different courses
laid out here, one by Al Gore and one by President Bush. As the
national media, and many of the people of our nation, uniformly
continue to assert - as if fact - that we should, "Thank God the mess
in Florida led to us having Bush in office on 9/11 and not Al Gore," we
at The Moderate Independent... "humbly"... suggest that maybe that
notion is something that should be reconsidered, if not... (dare we be
"arrogant" for a moment)... completely and utterly discarded as the
misguided trash that... (returning to humility)... it may be.
Just for laughs, we leave you
with this final quote from the Godsend-in-coming, then-Governor Bush,
back from the Oct. 11th, 2000 Wake Forest Presidential debate:
"I'm going to be judicious as
to how to use the military," said Governor Bush. "It needs to be in our vital
interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy
A "humble" nation that never
rushes to war but only does it "judicious"ly and with an "exit
strategy" that is "obvious." An economic plan that won't create
deficits. A war which will - contrary to what people warn - not
cost hundreds of billions of our own money, but fund itself via Iraqi
It is obvious why many people
voted for President Bush and supported him after 9/11 - because he has
a knack for saying the right things. However, upon later
analysis, it also becomes very clear why more and more people are less
and less inclined to support this President - because what he sells
you is not, when in the end the facts are in, what you get.