Man Without Qualities

Monday, November 18, 2002

Lights On, Nobody Home?

One not uncommon but precarious and usually counterproductive gambit of elected officers is attempting to quiet criticism by arguing that critics are obliged to restrain themselves because the politician is occupying an office that deserves more respect. The crudest and almost always unsuccessful version of this gambit tries to quiet protests occurring at the politician's government office space - or, in this case, Al Gore's official Vice Presidential residence:

WALTERS: I'm not sure that people realize that while you were in the residence of the Vice President [during the Florida recount] there were crowds of people outside screaming at you. What was that all about?

AL GORE: Well, this was the Republican response to what was happening during that 36-day period, and they organized busloads of people that came and stood outside the house all day and all night screaming at the top of their lungs.

WALTERS: What, "Get out!"?

TIPPER GORE: Things like that, yes, and, and sometimes … things that we don't want to say on your program, and, some people saw that they were buses from "churches," but it was organized. The one thing that, that they did mainly was reach the bedrooms of our children, and Albert was still in school locally, and trying to study, so we rearranged, you know, they … kids moved to a different part of the house, and I was trying to think of a way that we could kind of laugh about this since obviously it was out of our control, there wasn't anything anybody could do so I got all the boom boxes in the house and … I remember sort of what the government did with Noriega … I thought we'd try that, and I aimed them at, toward, you know, where the crowd …

WALTERS: The crowd?

TIPPER GORE: … And I put nature sounds on and turned it all the way up. And at least the kids laughed.

AL GORE: There were a few, more than a few who supported us and were offended by the organized chanting round the clock who came out on the other street corner during the day to express their support with signs, and … You know, emotions were running high throughout the country and it was just an unprecedented time.

KARENNA GORE: Well, when we were in the Vice President's house during the recount, it was it was very intense. And one of the things I remember is that there was a … an organized effort by, I don't know whether it was the RNC or it was … it was right-wing groups, it was definitely Bush-campaign-oriented effort to bus in people to have a sort of siege at the Vice President's house, and, so, they were all lining there, screaming, and it was kind of an assortment of groups. I mean, some of them were anti, um, were anti-abortion groups, and some of them were pro-gun groups, and some of them … they all had their different signs. But they were all screaming, "Get out of Cheney's house," the whole time. And I just remember being there next to my dad, because I went for a run, and I ran back through them, and I was very upset when I came into the house. And my whole attitude was, like, "We've got to fight back harder. And where are our crowds?" And my dad, I'll never forget his response. He said, "We have to do what's best for the country, and it is not good for the country to have this kind of divisiveness. And he was on the phone, really calling off the dogs. There were people who wanted to fan the … the flames of the racial issue and have real unrest. And he was on the phone asking them not to, because of what was best for the country not because of what was best for him politically. And that's really who he is.

WALTERS: Do you remember the crowds outside screaming?

KRISTEN GORE: The crowds that were screaming outside our house, you know, "Get out of Cheney's house." And other things … of that nature, were really upsetting. It was difficult … It was just very … upsetting that someone would … yell those things at us. It felt … we felt sort of like … trapped in this … you know, little house with all these people yelling mean things. It's no fun. You know, whether you're a child of the person who they're directed at, or anyone else. It … it wasn't a good situation.

WALTERS: Were you scared?

KRISTEN GORE: I was scared that the truth was not going to come out. That's what I was.

Can Al Gore and his family understand that this interview makes him out as a priggish, gutless wonder? What would one think of a President who complained that protesters rudely chanted outside the White House? There are often protestors outside the White House - and they try to be loud and forceful and rude. It's Washington, D.C. - not Versailles. Nobody pays much attention - and the President certainly never makes priggish comments about the protesters' style - unless they are extraordinarily raucous. In Mr. Gore's case, the protests were so peaceful that Karenna Gore says "I went for a run, and I ran back through them, and I was very upset when I came into the house." Does the Secret Service let the Vice President's daughter run through protesters who are really acting up or creating any potential threat at all? I don't think so.

Oddly, Mr. Gore seems to have thought this interview put him in a flattering light by allowing him and his family to present his critics as near-thugs willing to desecrate the sacred Vice Presidential residence, which is set in an enclosed, guarded, gated park.

Comments: Post a Comment