Gore did not score!
By Joe Schembrie
There's a popular myth making the rounds of the liberal media, that claims Al Gore won the presidential debate against George W. Bush. The liberals claim that Gore spoke more coherently, and he was in greater control of the facts. "Maybe Bush came off as the nicer guy," they say, "but Gore was clearly the winner when it came to scoring debate points."
This is complete bunk. In a formal debate setting, Gore would have been automatically disqualified, and the debate would have been forfeited in Bush's favor. No impartial high school or college debate panel of judges would have tolerated Gore's juvenile antics.
In a real debate, you're supposed to be quiet when your opponent is speaking. Gore interrupted, incessantly sighed, and even crumpled paper. This kind of distraction is forbidden in a formal debate, and points would have been taken off for every violation.
Any answer that ran long would also have received a penalty, not bonus points.
Then there are the lies. In a formal debate, lying is not treated as 'being knowledgeable.' It's treated as lying. You get penalized for it. And Gore not only lies, he demonstrates a penchant for fairy tales: The Starving Can Lady, The Student Who Could Not Sit Down, The School That Served Lunch at 9:30, The Texas Disaster Visit That Never Was. In a real debate with real rules, Gore's avalanche of lies would have crushed any objective evaluation based on 'points.'
PBS-approved moderator Jim Lehrer showed his true liberal stripes not only in his questions but in not throwing Gore off the stage outright. It just goes to show that politics works like no other field of human endeavor. A basketball player breaks the rules, he's out of the game. A lawyer tells a lie in court, he gets disbarred. You don't win by cheating.
Political debates are apparently different. Cheating is not only permitted, it's commended. Points are deducted for not cheating.
So of course you're more comprehensive -- when you can get away with running long in your answers.
Of course your opponent sounds distracted -- when you can get away with interrupting him.
Of course you can appear knowledgeable -- when you can get away with horse puckey.
In a true debate, Gore would have been quickly disqualified. In the political realm, Gore is hailed as some kind of debating whiz. Even his critics say, "He's like the student who always raised his hand in class because he knows all the answers!"
Actually, Al Gore's college transcripts reveal he carried a below-C average and twice dropped out of graduate school. The few times he was in class, he must have bluffed with wrong answers. His debate performance continues that tradition of boorish chicanery.
Yet what his college professors once scoffed at, liberal media elitists now embrace. Roger Ebert, who as a movie critic should be sensitive to dismal performances, merely mews, "He sighed more than I would have wanted him to sigh." (How much sighing would have been 'just right,' Roger?) And Maureen Dowd attempts to portray Gore and Bush as equally bad when she writes in the New York Times, "I wanted to strangle Gore and slap Bush." (But strangling is lethal while slapping is not -- so maybe the truth snuck through after all!)
Such disingenuous commentary explains why liberals ended up with such a whining, overbearing wimp as their presidential candidate. They are Gore. Gore is them. But how did liberalism itself end up as the ideology of choice for the insecure, the arrogant, and the deceptive?
Well, maybe forty years ago, an intelligent person could sincerely look forward to welfare solving poverty, affirmative action erasing racism, and public sex education curing teen illegitimacy. But every intelligent, informed person by now at least suspects that statist solutions don't work.
If an intelligent, informed person advocates statism today, it's out of a psychological compulsion to bully. After decades of failure, liberalism is no longer a journey, it's a power trip. Now that we all know the destination, only egomaniacs board the train.
Lawless, uncivil leaders like Bill Clinton and Al Gore are not anomalies. They are genuine facets of the true face of liberalism. And if we reward their behavior with election victory, our political future will be deluged with their imitators. On that there's no debate.
Score two points for our side, Mr. Lehrer -- or I'll disqualify you, too.
Joe Schembrie is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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