VF: Al and Tipper Gore Interview: "We Were Roadkill"

Vanity Fair's September issue has a long interview with Al Gore and Tipper about the 2000 election and the effect of the media.

Tipper Gore tells [author Evgenia] Peretz that following the loss, “we were roadkill … it took a long time to pick ourselves up from what happened.” Tipper also says that Al has made no moves that would suggest a run for the presidency, but adds that if he turned to her one night and said he had to run, she’d get on board, and they’d discuss how to approach it this time around, given what they’ve learned.

< John McCain Wants to Ramp Up War on Drugs | Preview of Jack Goldsmith's Book on Bush and DOJ >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Run Al, Run! (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Key on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 12:30:35 PM EST
    Title says it all....

    If he could have carried his home state... (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 08:50:55 PM EST
    Florida wouldn't have mattered.

    That shows just how bad a campaign he ran.

    The interview is interesting, including the attempt  by Gore, and the author to blame the press, including this one:

    Al Gore said he'd invented the Internet;

    And they are right. He didn't say that. What he said on CNN was:

    I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

    Now, I dislike Al Gore. Period. So my bias is there. To me the difference is plain to see what happened. By saying he took the initative in creating the Internet he just left himself wide open.

    Most people aren't going to stop and say, "That's not like saying I invented children, it's like I just took the initiative in having one."

    But like many politicans who know only a little about a subject but want to appear as an expert, he over extended himself. And although many people were aware of his yeoman's efforts in getting high speed networks funded and built, his over extension came across as egoistical and dishonest.

    Once that image hit and stuck, he just couldn't get rid of it.

    Overextended himself? I don't think so. (none / 0) (#3)
    by gharlane on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 08:19:38 PM EST
    He didn't overextend himself, he didn't make a boast that wasn't true.  He boiled down an essentially true statement into a TV sound-bite, and reporters, TV pundits, and Republican operatives (particularly Dick Armey) successfully distorted it and ran with it.  Gore's mistake was mostly in not fighting back, a disease endemic to Democrats right up to the current Congress.

    So this is what Gore actually said, in context:

    Wolf Blitzer had asked why Americans should support him over Bill Bradley.  Apparently Gore's campaign hadn't yet officially begun, because Gore said he'd offer his vision once his campaign began, a vision that would "emerge from [his] dialogue with the American people."  He then continued:

    I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

    Sounds a bit different in context, doesn't it?  In context, it's not even close to a claim to have invented the thing.  Nor, in context, is it at all clear what he "left himself open" for, if anything.  When you're dealing with Dick Armey and a press corps that functions as stenographers for the Republican Party, virtually anything you say can be taken out of context, "paraphrased," and used to smear you.  And if you spend your entire campaign worried about how things you might say could be used in this fashion, you'll never get anything said at all.

    So what did some people who actually can make a claim to having invented pieces of the Internet have to say about Gore?

    Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, developers of the TCP/IP protocol, Sept. 28, 2000:

    Al Gore and the Internet

    By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf

    Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development.

    No one person or even small group of persons exclusively "invented" the Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among people in government and the university community. But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.

    Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective.

    As far back as the 1970s Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship. Though easily forgotten, now, at the time this was an unproven and controversial concept. Our work on the Internet started in 1973 and was based on even earlier work that took place in the mid-late 1960s. But the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication. As an example, he sponsored hearings on how advanced technologies might be put to use in areas like coordinating the response of government agencies to natural disasters and other crises.

    As a Senator in the 1980s Gore urged government agencies to consolidate what at the time were several dozen different and unconnected networks into an "Interagency Network." Working in a bi-partisan manner with officials in Ronald Reagan and George Bush's administrations, Gore secured the passage of the High Performance Computing and Communications Act in 1991. This "Gore Act" supported the National Research and Education Network (NREN) initiative that became one of the major vehicles for the spread of the Internet beyond the field of computer science.

    As Vice President Gore promoted building the Internet both up and out, as well as releasing the Internet from the control of the government agencies that spawned it. He served as the major administration proponent for continued investment in advanced computing and networking and private sector initiatives such as Net Day. He was and is a strong proponent of extending access to the network to schools and libraries. Today, approximately 95% of our nation's schools are on the Internet. Gore provided much-needed political support for the speedy privatization of the Internet when the time arrived for it to become a commercially-driven operation.

    There are many factors that have contributed to the Internet's rapid growth since the later 1980s, not the least of which has been political support for its privatization and continued support for research in advanced networking technology. No one in public life has been more intellectually engaged in helping to create the climate for a thriving Internet than the Vice President. Gore has been a clear champion of this effort, both in the councils of government and with the public at large.

    The Vice President deserves credit for his early recognition of high speed computing and communication and for his long-term and consistent articulation of the potential value of the Internet to American citizens and industry and, indeed, to the rest of the world.

    I'm sorry if that took a while to read.  But that's what you gotta do if you want to discuss issues instead of sound-bites.

    At another point (June 14, 2000) at a Time Magazine-sponsored Internet forum, Cerf stated his case again.  The anonymous forum moderator sought to get a cheap laugh during his introduction of Cerf by repeating the canard about what Gore supposedly had said.  In response, Cerf said:

    While we're waiting for questions, I'd like to clear up one little item - about the Vice President ... He really does deserve some credit for his early recognition of the importance of the Internet and the technology that makes it work. He was certainly among the first if not the first in Congress to realize how powerful the information revolution would be and both as Senator and Vice President he has been enormously helpful in supporting legislation and programs to help further develop the Internet - for example the Next Generation Internet program. I get to see a lot of this stuff because I am a member of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee and we regularly review the R&D programs of the US Government and many have relevance to the evolving Internet.

    I'm glad that you linked to the sethf.com/gore site above.  When you go there you'll find over a dozen links about how the press blew up and distorted this story, together with other whoppers about Gore that they pushed over the years.

    Richard Wiggins at First Monday (referenced above) discusses this case as "an example of the trivialization of discourse and debate in American politics."  Sadly, your post does nothing to reverse this trend.  You know less about the subject than you claim Gore does, and far less than Cerf and Kahn, who are quite satisfied with Gore's initiatives.  Like many Internet blog commenters who know only a little about a subject but want to appear as an expert, you overextended yourself.