The Courtier Who Would Be King
February 1, 2000
would say of Al Gore what Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska once
said of Bill Clinton: that hes a good liar unusually
good. Gores notorious stiffness is due to his discomfort in
presenting a false public image on all the occasions when he feels
its required of him. If the secret of success is to be able to
fake sincerity, Gore is a failure. Relentlessly wooden in
demeanor and formulaic in verbal expression, he has made it nearly
impossible to imagine him in a spontaneous moment.
Democrats are supposed to be
people people. In the days of Hubert Humphrey, they were
known for kissing babies. This habit has fallen into disuse since
supporting abortion became party orthodoxy. The incongruity would be a
little too blatant.
Now Gore has been caught out in a naked
lie. Faced with his own anti-abortion votes and pronouncements during his
years as U.S. senator from Tennessee, he insists doggedly that he has
always supported a womans right to
choose. In the Democratic Party, its now considered
shameful to have protected unborn children and to have called abortion
arguably the taking of a human life. I would not use
that phrasing today, he says.
No, he wouldnt. As far as Gore is
concerned, its just a matter of phrasing
changing verbal formulas to suit a change of position. He doesnt
feel obliged to explain why he changed his mind, because he didnt
change his mind just his position.
How do you go
from believing that an unborn child is a marvel of Gods creation to
believing its only a worthless piece of disposable tissue, even on
the verge of birth? Such inconsistencies dont bother a man who has
no convictions and who will say anything dictated by his calculations of
political convenience. This, after all, is the same man who has called
Clinton one of our greatest presidents and has dismissed Clintons
alleged rape of a woman (while attorney general of Arkansas) as a
mistake in his personal life.
Gores recent attacks on Bill
Bradley have been called ruthless. Why should his mean
streak come as a surprise? He wants to win, and his charges against
Bradley are no more ruthless than his defense of Clinton or his smearing
of abortion opponents as extremists. You can be wooden and
unscrupulous at the same time or for that matter, at once stiff
and spineless. Inflexibility is not to be confused with rectitude.
True, Gore lacks the facility that enables
Clinton to speak tearfully about our children while
supporting the late-term abortion procedure that drills a
hole in the childs skull, sucks out the brain, and crushes the skull
to make it easier to extract from the birth canal. As a prevaricator,
hes still the Sorcerers Apprentice. But hes working
on it. Practice makes perfect.
What does Gore mean when he says he has
always supported abortion? That he read the Constitution
before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the matter, and became
independently convinced that abortion was constitutionally shielded?
Hardly. Before the Court made its totally arbitrary ruling, not even the
most liberal justice had ever gone on the record as saying the Constitution
protected abortion. The thought simply never occurred to anyone. And a
thought that has never occurred to anyone, you can be sure, is not going to
occur to Al Gore first.
But a funny thing happened. Once the
Court had decreed that all the abortion laws of all 50 states were
somehow unconstitutional, countless people suddenly developed the
conviction that abortion was a right, just as Henry
VIIIs novel views on royal prerogatives immediately proved
persuasive to his courtiers, with the cranky exception of Sir Thomas More.
And nobody likens Gore to More.
That is the key to Gore: he has the soul of
a courtier, one who, in another age, would have flattered Caligula without
compunction. He is to power what an iron filing is to a magnet. Ambition
aside, he has never shown a will, let alone a conscience, of his own. But
there is something odd about a veteran courtier, and an especially
sycophantic one at that, aspiring to be king.
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