Al Gore's Insolent Assault on Reason
By Robert Tracinski
Judging from the excerpts of Gore's book published in TIME, his not-so-subtle theme is that reason is being "assaulted" by a free and unfettered debate in the media--and particularly by the fact that Gore has to contend with opposition from the right-leaning media.
Developing a dangerous theme that the left has been toying with for years, Gore says that reason is being suffocated by "media Machiavelli"--that's a veiled reference to Fox News owner Rupert Murdoc and Bush political advisor Karl Rove, the twin hobgoblins of the left. According to Gore, these puppet-masters take advantage of "the clever use of electronic mass media" to "manipulate the outcome of elections."
Now here's the really ominous part. This "manipulation" is rendering our representative government "illegitimate" because it only has the public's "consent"--he repeatedly puts "consent" in scare quotes, just to emphasize the point that this consent is not, in Al Gore's superior judgment, genuine or legitimate. As he puts it, "the 'consent of the governed' [has become] a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder."
Presumably, this is Gore's fallback explanation for why he didn't really lose the 2000 presidential election, not "genuinely," not "legitimately." That election makes an appearance in Gore's whining complaint about his loss in a televised debate against George W. Bush: "[T]he controversy over my sighs in the first debate with George W. Bush created an impression on television that for many viewers outweighed whatever positive benefits I might have otherwise gained in the verbal combat of ideas and substance." I remember that debate, and I can tell you that Gore lost because his sighs gave him the impression of being the kind of condescending know-it-all who views a debate as "verbal combat" in which he shoves his preferred notions down the public's throat.
His new argument doesn't do anything to reverse that impression. His basic theme seems to be: if the left isn't winning in the marketplace of ideas, there can't possibly be anything wrong with their ideas. It must be the marketplace itself that is "broken," and the left needs to use the power of government to fix it--in both senses of the word "fix."