Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gore and Obama

From Al Gore's speech endorsing Barack Obama 06/16/08:

In looking back over the last eight years, I can tell you that we have already learned one important fact since the year 2000: take it from me, elections matter. If you think the next appointments to our Supreme Court are important, you know that elections matter. If you live in the city of New Orleans, you know that elections matter. If you or a member of your family are serving in the active military, the National Guard or Reserves, you know that elections matter. If you’re a wounded veteran, you know that elections matter. If you lost your job, if you’re struggling with your mortgage, you know that elections matter. If you care about a clean environment, if you want a government that protects you instead of special interests, you know that elections matter. If you care about food safety, if you like a T on your BLT, you know that elections matter. If you bought poisoned, lead-filled toys from China or adulterated medicine made in China, if you bought tainted pet food made in China, you know that elections matter! After the last eight years, even our dogs and cats have learned that elections matter.

And this election matters more than ever because America needs change more than ever. After eight years of lost jobs and lower wages we need change. After eight years of incompetence, neglect and failure we need change. After eight years in which our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected we need change. After eight years of the worst, most serious foreign policy mistakes in the entire history of our nation we need change. (my emphasis)
What the Scalia Five did in 2000 when they handed the Presidential election to the losers, Dick Cheney and George Bush, will go down in democratic history as one of the most infamous acts ever perpetrated against the US Constitution. And against decent domestic government and foreign policy.

Our broken press corps will probably only talk about Gore's speech to wonder whether he was wearing appropriate clothing or whatever. But it's worth noting the very first issue-driven reason Gore says he's endorsing Obama. It's also a reminder that responsible political leaders were able to see how wrong Bush's war on Iraq was even during the jingoistic drive for war:

In September of 2002, I argued strongly that the invasion of a country that had not attacked us would be a mistake, and would divert attention, resources and resolve from the effort to track down and capture those who had attacked us. I argued that the occupation of Iraq would be dangerous and harmful for our country. And I well remember how few elected officials were willing to take that position in favor of protecting our national security by remaining focused on the right objectives. But I remember that an eloquent legislator in Springfield, Illinois named Barack Obama spoke up boldly and clearly with the force of reason and logic to join in opposition to that blunder. To those who still do not understand that the withdrawal of troops from the search for bin Laden in order to launch a misguided invasion of Iraq was a mistake, it’s time to say: We need a change. To those who want to continue making that same mistake over and over again indefinitely, it is important for us to say loudly and clearly with our votes this November: We need change. We intend to have change. (my emphasis)
And he continues directly to connect our catastrophically bad Middle East policy to our catastrophically bad climate policy:

To those who want to continue borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf and burn it in ways that destroy our planet’s environment, it’s time to say: We need change. Barack Obama knows that we are too dependent on foreign oil and carbon fuels, and has proposed a plan to create millions of good new jobs and renewable green energy conservation and efficiency. Here in Detroit you know we need to revitalize our automobile industry with a commitment to plug-in hybrids and low-emission vehicles to solve the climate crisis and create the jobs of the future. (my emphasis)
Noted for the record: Gore mentioned several issues in this speech. But he made two of them central, and specifically connected them: the Iraq War and global climate change. Worth remembering when you hear the Big Pundits talking about why, why, why did Al Gore endorse Obama when he did and in the way he did and parsing his reference to "dogs and cats" for deep character flaws.

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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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