FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE ONCE CLAIMED to have invented the Internet.
This week an odd couple of Silicon Valley computer-industry millionaires from Berkeley, California, are busy trying to reinvent Al Gore and to use the Internet to elect Gore president in 2004. And Gore is willing and eager to sell his soul in exchange for their money and help.
This couple’s liberal guilt is understandable: they are partly to blame for Gore’s loss in the presidential race in 2000. Fasten your seatbelts for a fast and bumpy ride through a tale of deception, big money, dirty tricks, vote fraud, egomania and the evolving politics of today’s loony Left.
“Something Basic Has Gone Wrong” blared the headline from a full-page ad in Tuesday’s New York Times. The ad featured a large photo of Al Gore looking to the right but talking Left in a long, carefully edited excerpt from a speech he gave on August 7 at New York University.
In a breathtaking manipulation of facts, Gore’s text accused President George W. Bush of being “engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate the facts in service to a totalistic ideology,” not just about Iraq and the War on Terror but also about the health of America’s economy, tax cuts, and that special Gore passion Global Warming.
The first thing to note about such an ad is what it leaves out. Gore’s actual speech praised President Bush, saying: “The removal of Saddam from power is a positive accomplishment in its own right for which the President deserves credit, just as he deserves credit for removing the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.” Not a word of this appeared in Tuesday’s paid broadside.
The ad quoted Mr. Gore’s accusation that the reason “too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price for the miscalculations, misjudgments and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm’s way” is that “we didn’t have a better public debate before the war started.”
Huh? We had a prolonged debate, national and congressional, that ended with votes supporting the war from the overwhelming majority of Democrats with strong presidential prospects, including Senators John Forbes Kerry (D.-Mass.), John Edwards (D.-N.C.), Gore’s own 2000 running mate Joseph Lieberman (D.-Conn.) and the wife of the president he served under for two terms, Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.)
Is Gore saying that these distinguished Democratic Senators were irresponsible in voting for the war in Iraq? Should Saddam Hussein have been left in power, as he and President Clinton did for eight years?
Is he saying that a unanimous 15-0 vote by the United Nations Security Council ordering Saddam Hussein to disarm or be disarmed – a resolution the murderous Iraqi dictator scorned and evaded as he had 16 similar U.N. resolutions before it – was not a legitimate warrant for action?
Indeed, is former Vice President Gore saying he would not have taken action to oust Saddam, an action praised in his speech but omitted in Tuesday’s ad? As the Clinton-Gore Administration demonstrated during eight years of inaction while North Korea built nuclear weapons, Iran purchased Russian nuclear reactors, and Osama bin Laden was offered to the U.S. by an African government – an offer Clinton and Gore refused – it is easy to squirt out inky words like a spineless squid or a Hollywood screenwriter.
But even now, in his August 7 speech Mr. Gore took care not to spell out exactly what he as President would have done in Iraq or Afghanistan or in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that all by themselves set our economy back somewhere between $100 billion and $1 trillion. As the Existentialists used to say, existence precedes essence. Essence comes through choice. When you make choices, you define who and what you are.
But with still-glowing presidential aspirations, Al Gore prefers to be all things to all people. He does not want to take firm stands that would define him, as every Democratic Senator running for President voted to do by supporting the war.
Mr. Gore takes care not even to criticize the war directly, because Weapons of Mass Destruction could yet be found or the Bush policy could be recognized as successful. If this happens, Mr. Gore wants to be able to portray himself as having been on the winning side all along.
This is why former Vice President Gore criticizes only the President’s “miscalculations, misjudgments and historic mistakes” concerning details of the war, not the war itself.
All wars have “miscalculations.” During World War II, the unanticipated suicidal German counterattack called the Battle of the Bulge cost American lives. And small groups of defeated Nazi bitter-enders would go on attacking American soldiers long after this war ended, not unlike what is happening today in Iraq. Such things do not invalidate the larger decision to fight the war itself, nor do they devalue the victory.
But Mr. Gore, eager as always to straddle the yellow line between Right and Left lanes, never says the U.S. was wrong to go to war or to remove Saddam Hussein, who has killed more than three million mostly-Muslims. In fact every accusation Gore makes in Tuesday’s New York Times ad is too vague and devoid of specifics or alternatives to be worthy of refutation. In any event, the Al Gore of Buddhist Templegate, missile secrets sold to Communist China, and attempts to steal the votes of overseas military men and women in Florida has no moral standing to make accusations. Has he no shame?
Perhaps the acid in his rhetoric comes from the taste of sour grapes in Gore’s mouth, of having been raised the pampered princeling son of a Senator, told from infancy that he was born to be President. Having narrowly failed by the loss of his own “home state” (Gore was born and raised in D.C.) of Tennessee, he now sees the man who beat him, George W. Bush, going on to historic greatness.
How painful it must be to see Al Gore’s face staring back at you from the bathroom mirror each morning, to be the James G. Blaine of our times who almost became President and still dreams of one more grab at the brass ring if only he can bring the legitimate President down.
Before we consider more of the odd things former Vice President Gore said, and why, we should pause to consider another revealing message in Tuesday’s New York Times ad. It was not only a huge infomercial for Mr. Gore. It also asked readers for money, logically enough in a full-page ad that probably cost between $40,000 and $80,000. It urged them to send money to MoveOn.org, the same group Gore reportedly approached to sponsor his August 7 New York University speech.
A man is known by the company he keeps. What does Mr. Gore’s cozy relationship with this group reveal? What does it tell us about Al Gore’s own values, ideology, morals and potential behavior were he to become President of the United States? What does it tell us that Mr. Gore would ask this group to sponsor his first major public appearance in months? And what is this group MoveOn.org that former Vice President Gore has boosted to prominence by embracing it with his own fame, reputation and credibility?
If the name MoveOn.org sounds familiar – as in the old expression “Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?” – it’s because this is what President Bill Clinton kept saying as the tar baby of scandal engulfed the second term of the Clinton-Gore Administration. “We need to move on and let me get back to work for the American people,” became the Clinton mantra.
In Berkeley, California, computer entrepreneur Wes Boyd – the man who became a multi-multi-millionaire by selling his “Flying Toaster” screensavers – and his wife Joan Blades launched a mobilization on the Internet to save Clinton. It’s eventual theme: “Censure and Move On.” Censure the President for his indiscretions, their email petitions to congress proposed, and then leave him alone.
The effort snowballed, especially among those in Silicon Valley who had been big Clinton contributors and in return had gotten political favors including the Clinton-Gore lawsuit against their Seattle competitor MicroSoft and Bill Gates, who had refused to pay the political protection money sought by Democrat operatives. (This government lawsuit devastated the life savings of millions of small stockholders and burst America’s high-tech bubble and prosperity).
Over the past five years, MoveOn.org says, it has grown to 1.4 million “members” (plus “another 700,000 people outside the country” eager to manipulate America’s government) and raised $6.5 million in political contributions, the only beneficiaries of which have been Democratic and other Leftist candidates.
Prior to Mr. Gore’s August 7 New York University speech in a very liberal community, MoveOn.org said that “the audience will be drawn from the over 120,000 MoveOn.org members in the New York area, invited and ticketed online.” The result: 600 of those “members” showed up to hear Gore’s “major address.”
Further hyping this event was the public relations firm Fenton Communications, whose Far Left clients include the Children’s Defense Fund and Greenpeace.
Spearheading this publicity effort for MoveOn.org was Emily Lenzner, who used to work in the Clinton White House under George Stephanopoulos and later as a producer for the Leftist BBC. She is the 31-year-old Vassar-educated daughter of private detective Terry Lenzner, who dug dirt used to threaten or attack political enemies of the Clintons as a key operative in the Clinton-Gore politics-of-personal-destruction.
By 1998, as Byron York lays out in his excellent August 11th article “HateBush.org” at NationalReview.com, this new organization had evolved from defending Clinton to targeting Republicans for defeat in that year’s election. After Democrats failed to regain either house of congress, in 1999 it launched the MoveOnPAC as a large-scale money-raising operation for Democrats.
During the 2000 Presidential campaign MoveOn.org moved on to dirty tricks. One of its targets was Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who was siphoning away votes that Al Gore needed if he was to win.
The liberal Village Voice newspaper in New York City just prior to the election reported: “In an effort mounted by Wes Boyd of MoveOn.org, PAC recipients are advised to jam Nader e-mail servers, fax machines, and phone lines with pleas for him to quit the race. Boyd claims to have played a key role in supporting Clinton during his impeachment woes by dumping thousands of e-mail messages on Congress. MoveOn is out to stop what Boyd calls Nader’s ‘Kamikaze’ campaign.”
In other words, the founder of MoveOn.org tried to use his organization to jam the Ralph Nader campaign’s ability to call voters, communicate with the press, or coordinate campaign workers in the crucial days prior to the election in order to help Al Gore win. If a Republican organization had been caught attempting such sabotage against the Green Party, the Leftist media would have called this an attempt to thwart democracy….as MoveOn.org’s effort indeed was.
Remember the grotesque, hateful web site in 2000 that was widely reported for depicting then-Governor George W. Bush as a drunk and cocaine-user and that featured among its slogans “GW Bush, Born with a Silver Spoon Up His Nose?”
That site, against which Mr. Bush filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, was put together by a programmer named Zack Exley, as York reports.
Exley since then has worked for MoveOn.org. Earlier this year the Democratic Presidential hopefuls lined up to compete in what was billed as the “first primary” of 2004, an internet vote by those registered as members of MoveOn.org.
The big winner in this “vote,” with 44 percent in a field of nine candidates, was then-obscure Howard Dean, the former Governor of Vermont. Second place was won by loony Leftist Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who wants to abolish the Department of Defense and replace it with a Department of Peace.
As political analyst Rich Galen (who calls these Internet activists “Kumbaya.org” for their otherworldly Leftist utopianism) notes, however, MoveOn.org claims to have 1.4 million members but despite heavy media publicity and direct hype was able to attract only 317,600 people to cast ballots. This is equivalent to a “voter turnout” of less than 23 percent nationwide – or worldwide, because it seems inevitable that many from outside the United States were voting.)
“We are concerned that the process seems to be rigged,” Rep. Richard Gephardt’s spokesman Erik Smith told Associated Press. The very MoveOn.org website where people were sent to vote featured a huge banner telling them to vote for Dean, in effect campaigning for only one candidate within 50 feet of the polling place. When candidates like Gephardt directed their followers to register to vote at MoveOn.org, those who did were promptly sent an automated email sales pitch to vote for Dean….but no similar pitch from the other candidates.
Was this fair and evenhanded behavior by MoveOn.org, or was it a dishonest form of vote tampering designed to tilt the outcome? “You want to give everyone a soap box,” says Wes Boyd, a longtime peace activist, “but different size soap boxes in a sense.”
This “election” website was run by MoveOn.org’s own chief programmer Zack Exley, who Associated Press reports has also been “paid to work on organizing Mr. Dean’s web site.” It did not say how many tens of thousands of dollars Howard Dean has paid Zack Exley, the man who controlled the programming of the “virtual election” that America was told had made Dean a winner.
“This,” wrote Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz with calculated understatement, “is hardly a perfect case study in participatory democracy.”
But if MoveOn.org loves Al Gore, why would it boost the anti-war candidates Dean and Kucinich towards the 2004 Democratic nomination in this publicity-stunt sham “election?” Gore at present is not running, one could reason, and therefore these two anti-war Leftists are the next best alternative in the preferences of Boyd and Blades. “We need more new talent,” their web site says, “and new vision.”
A more cynical analysis might conclude that Dean and Kucinich are inherently weak candidates, being far from the mainstream. If a deadlocked Democratic Convention in 2004 had to choose between Dean and Gore, it would have little choice but to nominate Gore. If, instead, a less extreme candidate such as Senator Lieberman or Congressman Gephardt were the alternative, Gore would by contrast seem far less appetizing. As one MoveOn.org press release boasted, quoting the Washington Post, that the group’s “Founder galvanizes opposition to Bush, Democratic Centrists.” And thus Dean victories in primaries could keep the door ajar for a last minute nomination of the old, stale talent and vision of always-off-center Al Gore.
In addition to multi-millionaire mates Boyd and Blades, who bankrolls MoveOn.org? In addition to its members, writes York, “it also has close relationships with a number of left-wing foundations. For example, MoveOn has what is called a ‘fiscal sponsorship’ relationship with an organization known as the San Francisco Foundation Community Initiative Funds,” a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, one of whose biggest-funded causes was opposition to California ballot Proposition 22 “that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”
MoveOn.org also receives money from the Tides Foundation, which, writes York, is “a wealthy but little-known group that funds dozens of left-wing organizations; one of its large donations went to the Alliance for Justice, which is trying to stop a number of President Bush’s nominees to the federal courts.
Self-described as an “issue-oriented, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization,” MoveOn.org says it is supported in part by grants from the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, and the Iraq Peace Fund. Guess who funds and is behind the Iraq Peace Fund.
Given MoveOn.org’s other politics, you will not be surprised to learn that it puts out strongly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel writings, or that it has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism. Neither should it surprise anybody that MoveOn.org waged a “Let the Inspections Work” campaign that would have prevented the ouster of Saddam Hussein. And it, of course, has advocated a range of other Leftist causes, including strict gun control, and joined other far Left groups a few months ago in staging a “Virtual March on Washington” via the Internet.
MoveOn.org loves Al Gore, perhaps because he seems animatronic, or because he once claimed paternity for the Internet as its Founding Father. And Gore has embraced MoveOn.org, in part for its money and support, and perhaps in part because he shares its founders’ vision of a future in which computerized elections can easily be rigged (with no paper ballots that can be recounted), and a geek minority can be made by clever programming to appear to be a majority.
In such a future of electric democracy, where racial preferences give androids an advantage, Al Gore could be elected President and elitist Democrats could rule forever.
“In the long run, MoveOn could be our Rush Limbaugh,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. It could bypass the mainstream media, sneak around campaign spending limits, and become its own powerful channel for Leftist communication, indoctrination and mobilization.
“MoveOn is the PAC of the future, if we are lucky,” says Professor Mike Cornfield of George Washington University’s School of Political Management. It offers ways to raise money from large and small contributors from both inside and outside the U.S. And it can provide hard-to-regulate ways to funnel that money to help elect Leftist candidates.
Would MoveOn.org engage in such shenanigans? For an answer, ask yourself how ethically it dealt with Ralph Nader or George W. Bush or the voters in its own “virtual primary.”
If MoveOn.org had run the 2000 election in Florida, Al Gore doubtless thinks, he would be President today. But, ironically, had Leftist groups like MoveOn.org kept quiet and let Bill Clinton be removed from office as his criminal behavior warranted, Vice President Al Gore would have become President. In 2000 he would have run for re-election as a relatively-clean (compared to Clinton) incumbent and almost certainly with that added wind at his back would have won. MoveOn.org’s contrived flood of Clinton-supporting emails to Congress is part of the reason that Al Gore today is NOT President.
“What I think Gore is doing is testing the waters,” said Clinton media consultant Dick Morris earlier this month. “He’s going to poll, he’s going to give another speech, he’s going to poll. And then, after a while, if he sees his numbers moving up and he sees that he could do this thing, he might get in” to the Democratic presidential race.
But Gore has other reasons for appearing in the public eye. He reportedly has been chosen to head up the future “liberal” talk radio and/or talk television networks into which a wealthy Chicago couple have said they are ready to invest $10 million. The laughable Al Franken, among other Leftists, have reportedly already signed up to be part of this propaganda machine.
If Gore could synchronize these broadcast networks with the Internet clout and money available through MoveOn.org, he could emerge as THE media baron and kingmaker of the Left, as the new Foxy Rupert Murdoch or AOL-Time-Warner-CNN of all Left-sided politics. Instead of the career he once had as a puppet controlled by powerful special interests, Gore could himself become the wealthy, wizard-like puppeteer pulling the strings of every politician in the Democratic Party.
“Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith. I’ve even been guilty of it myself on occasion,” Gore was quoted as saying in Tuesday’s MoveOn.org full-page New York Times ad.
“But there is a big difference between that,” his words continued, “and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology.”
But, Mr. Gore, this is precisely what the Daddy Warbucks behind your incubating All-Leftist-All-the-Time network empire boasts it will be like.
You, dear reader, can now begin to appreciate the irony in having an extremist loony Left group that manipulates elections, MoveOn.org, bankrolling this ad in the New York Times and using it to raise funds. Have they bought Al Gore? Or is Al Gore using them? Or is this a marriage between smarmy, skanky sold-their-soul-mates who were made for each other?