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Food For Thought: What If Gore Had Won

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(Author's Note: I originally published this article in May of 2005.  However, with Mr. Gore's book recently published and the ensuing smear campaign by the right-wing slime machine, I thought it would be appropriate to re-print this article because it's still very relevent.) 

As I look back over the last five years in our nation's history, I reflect on what might have happened, if just 269 more people in Florida had voted for Gore instead of Bush in the 2000 presidential election. I know you're probably thinking that Bush won by 537 votes, but Gore would have needed only 1 more than half in order to have taken Florida. So 269 is the magic number.


So here's my first question. If Gore had won, would 9/11 have happened? Now the right-wingers will argue that the terrorist 'cells' were incubating for years under the Clinton presidency, so of course 9/11 would have happened either way. In fact, it was all Clinton's fault!

Not so fast.

The Clinton/Gore presidency was well versed on the terrorism of al-Qaeda having experienced the WTC bombing in '93 (37 days into Clinton's presidency, but no one blamed GHWB). In 1998 when the embassies in Africa were hit, Clinton retaliated appropriately. And after the USS Cole was hit in October of 2000 as the Clinton presidency was coming to closure, President Clinton tasked Intelligence Chief Richard Clarke with a plan for attacking the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. It was a detailed plan with many action items, and would have seriously impacted the al-Qaeda network, finances, and communications infrastructure. When George W. Bush took office, Clinton handed the al-Qaeda plan over to him, but Bush decided to scrap it. Bush decided that he could do it better, and threw the Clinton plan away. Would Gore have thrown the Clinton plan away? Perhaps. Or perhaps he would have IMPLEMENTED IT!

In the mid to late 90's, former Senators Gary Hart and Warren B. Rudman co-chaired a commission on National Security for the 21st century. This 'Hart-Rudman' commission made many recommendations which essentially amounted to creating a Department of Homeland Security and re-organizing existing protection agencies under it. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Here's just one small quote from the executive summary:
"We therefore recommend the creation of a new independent National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) with responsibility for planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. government activities involved in homeland security."
This report was delivered to President Bush on February 2, 2001. What did Bush decide to do with it? Yup, he threw it away. After all, how could he have known he would need it if 9/11 hadn't happened yet? Well, maybe because we had already gone through 4 terrorist incidents in the 90's and an entire commission was recommending it!

So, ask yourself, "Would Al Gore have thrown the Hart-Rudman Commission recommendations away?" What if the

Hart-Rudman recommendations had been implemented, and the CIA & FBI were actually talking to each other... do you think someone might have connected the dots with the influx of intelligence during the summer of 2001?

Would Al Gore have taken a vacation for the entire month of August in his first year as President? Would Al Gore have dismissed the Presidential Daily Briefing that read "bin Laden Determined To Strike In US" on August 6, 2001?

And then there's Iraq...

Even if 9/11 had occurred during the Gore presidency, would President Gore have invaded Iraq? I think not. Clearly the invasion, overthrow, and occupation of Iraq has been on the neo-conservative agenda for years. If you have any doubt of that, I urge you to check out the
'Project for a New American Century' (PNAC) web site. Specifically check out their letter to President Clinton on January 26, 1998 urging him to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime :
"We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power."
For the uninitiated, the 'Project for the New American Century' is an ultra right-wing, neo-conservative think tank out of the mid 90's (although its roots date back to the Nixon years) with a charter and plan to spread American imperialism (read 'take over the world'). From the PNAC 'Statement Of Principles':

"We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership."

The people who wrote this are many of the same people are now highly planted in the Bush Administration (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Elliot Abrams just to name a few). These are the people who have delusions of world domination. These are the people who have some vendetta on Saddam Hussein to the point where they lied profusely to dupe our country into supporting this war of choice.

No one could argue that Al Gore would've governed differently then George W. Bush...

  • Would Al Gore have appointed business-friendly operatives & lobbyists into leadership positions of the agencies tasked to regulate them?
  • Would Al Gore have deregulated every industry to the point of decimating protections?
  • Would Al Gore have pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the Anti Ballistic Missile treaties?
  • Would Al Gore have muddied the separation of church & state, infringed on American's constitutional rights, and cut funding to valuable and worthwhile domestic programs?
  • Would Al Gore have driven a huge wedge between the wealthy and the rest of us, and turned a massive surplus into a massive deficit?
  • Would Al Gore have damaged relations with our allies and fueled anti-American hatred worldwide?
  • Would Al Gore have lied, misled, distorted, and otherwise deceived the American people repeatedly and consistently as George W. Bush has?
Where would we be now if just 269 people in Florida had voted for Gore instead of Bush in 2000? Don't give Bush a pass because 9/11 happened on his watch, like it wasn't his fault and nothing could have prevented it. We've endured a terrorist attack on our soil, a devastating recession, and now we're in a long-term occupation of a foriegn country. Americans (as well as many, many others) are dying daily in Iraq.

Too many misguided, ignorant, and uninformed Americans give George W. Bush high marks for leadership in the days following 9/11. Perhaps they feel that it would have happened either way, and W 'led' us through it. Instead, why not question if it would have happened in the first place?
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Scott Shuster is a progressive columnist, publishing since May of 2005. His liberal ideology is a refreshing diversion from 'politics as usual' in Washington.
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