Editorial by John Ziegler

Al Gore said WHAT???!!!

3/10/2000

In just one short statement on March 8, 2000 Vice President Al Gore simultaneously and blatantly attacked the truth, the knowledge of the American people, capitalism, and our freedoms of association and speech. But even more remarkable than Gore's dubious achievement was that, thanks to the news media, no one even seemed to notice.

When asked whether he would prefer that voters forget the Clinton/Gore fund-raising excesses of 1996 and his memorable trip to a Buddhist temple Gore responded, "No. I want them to remember what happened in both political parties, and I want them to look to the future and ask the question, How can we protect our democracy against undue influence from the kind of secretive, special-interest, sneak-attack (ads that were used against John McCain in New York)?" As if that wasn't enough, Gore went on to reissue his transparent challenge to George Bush to drop the use of "soft money" and campaign commercials, this time adding that he was calling on the broadcast outlets to stop excepting and running ads he referred to as "these so-called independent expenditures."

When I heard what Gore had said I was literally taken aback. Of all of Gore's amazing pronouncements (on the combustible engine, creating the internet, his using his sister's death to falsely claim he has been an enemy of tobacco, etc.), this one might very well be the most dangerous.

First, this statement begins with an untruth. It is a lie to suggest that the fund-raising violations of 1996 were in any way equal between Democrats and Republicans, any more than a driver who exceeds the speed limit by 5-10 mph is as guilty of wrong doing as the speeder who goes 45-50 mph over what the law allows. Mr. Gore is simply playing on the people's cynical belief that all politicians are the same and is using their ignorance of the facts of 1996 against them.

The Vice President also uses the public's lack of knowledge like a weapon when he suggests that both parties stop raising and using soft money. He has by far the most to gain from that proposal because his campaign is hamstrung by federal spending limits, which Mr. Bush's is not. Why is Gore restricted and Bush not? Because Gore accepts TAX MONEY to pay for his ads (his campaign just received $7 million in federal matching funds), while EVERYTHING in Bush's campaign is paid for by citizens (usually limited to giving $2,000) who have made a conscious decision to support him. Fortunately for Gore, very few voters have a CLUE about that and he has the luxury of knowing that the news media isn't going to take the time to explain it to them (or even mention that Gore plans on raising at least $35 million dollars in soft money for the Democratic party).

But the most galling part of Al Gore's stance is his brazen disregard for some of the most sacred principles in our Constitution. When Gore said that he wants voters to ask how we can "protect our democracy against… so-called independent expenditures," what he is really saying is that American citizens (especially those who happen to be conservative) should have their freedoms of association and speech DRASTICALLY curtailed.

The source of this controversy is an independent ad campaign (paid for by people who are friends of George Bush) that was run in New York criticizing John McCain for voting against breast cancer research. The merits of the ads are IRRELAVENT to the constitutionally protected rights of those who paid to have their opinions heard. By calling on broadcast outlets (who use the PUBLIC airwaves) to not run these ads simply because those paying for them happen to be friends of George Bush, Gore is saying that by associating with a particular person that you forfeit some, or all, of your free speech rights. It is difficult for me to think of a more un-American concept than that.

While making independent expenditures in political campaigns illegal would be nearly impossible (at least for now) because it would be a gross violation of the First Amendment, demonizing those who use independent expenditures (free speech) as being a threat to our democracy may be just as effective. This is a tactic that Al Gore has evidently learned from the master of demonization, Bill Clinton.

It is frightening that we have reached the point in this country founded on freedom that the sitting Vice President and Democratic Presidential nominee can, with a straight face, suggest that law-abiding businesses not accept a legal and constitutionally protected transaction from law-abiding citizens who are only seeking to express their political opinions. But as discouraging as that precedent may be, it seems even scarier that, thanks to a news media that is sitting on their hands, very few people will ever know that it even happened.

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