Not that long ago, there was a man who ran for president. The press made fun of him. He was called wooden. When the election came, he won the popular vote by more than a half a million votes. Although in the lead in undisputed electoral votes, he was considered the underdog because the networks had prematurely called his opponent the winner earlier in the evening.
Had all the votes in Florida been counted, he would almost certainly be in his second term today.
In an extreme event of irony, he was to be in New Orleans this past weekend giving a speech on Climate Change to a convention of state insurance commissioners. That speech never happened.
Instead he gave a speech to the Sierra Club Convention in San Francisco. This is not the robot Al. This is the Al Gore, that except for some wierd twist of dark fate, would have been president.
Al Gore: When there is No Vision, the People Perish
by Bob Burnett
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Friday morning, when they arrived at the opening plenary session of the first-ever Sierra Club convention held at San Francisco's Moscone Center, several thousand activists got a surprise. Instead of an address by Executive Director, Carl Pope, they heard a rousing speech from former Vice President, Al Gore
Gore's theme was based upon the quote from Proverbs, "When there is no vision, the people perish." He dwelt at length on the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina observing, "It is important that we learn the right lessons from what happened, or else we will repeat the mistakes that were made."
Gore identified three basic lessons that the American people must grasp: the first is deceptively simple - Presidents should be expected to pay attention. The former Vice President recalled that on August 6, 2001, President Bush received an intelligence briefing, "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.," but took no action as, "it was vacation time."
Four years later, the Bush Administration received dire warnings of the damage that would be done to New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast, if Hurricane Katrina kept to its projected course; nothing was done, "It was, once again, vacation time."
The second lesson, according to Gore, involves presidential accountability. "There has been no accountability for horrible misjudgment and outright falsehood - leading to the tragedy of Iraq." The former VP argued that this has produced an atmosphere, in the White House, where "there is no fear of accountability" for the Federal missteps surrounding Hurricane Katrina.
Gore opined that the management philosophy of the Bush Administration has been dictated by conservative lobbyist, Grover Nordquist, who famously boasted, "my goal is to get government down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub." Gore indicated that, as a result, the President deliberately shrunk the size of FEMA, rendering it "weak and helpless."
The former Vice President's third lesson is that Presidents ought to heed warnings. The Bush Administration ignored distress signals about Al Qaeda and the frailty of the New Orleans' levees, and continues to disregard warnings about global warming.
"The average hurricane will get stronger because of global warming, he said, noting a scientific study, recently reported in "Nature" magazine, that concluded, "Since 1970, the average hurricane has been 50 percent stronger," specifically because the oceans have grown warmer.
Gore passionately compared present-day America to Great Britain on the eve of World War II. He recalled the words that Winston Churchill spoke after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's infamous 1938 appeasement of Hitler,
"They are decided to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent -
This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."
Noting the chilling similarities between the crisis-management style of Bush and Chamberlain, the former VP declared that it is time that Americans, "recover our moral health and demand accountability."
Gore concluded his speech by observing that the US is at "a moral moment - This is not about scientific debate or political dialogue, but about who we are.
The former Vice President remembered that, after the end of the civil war, Abraham Lincoln remarked, "As the problems are new, we must disenthrall ourselves from the past."
Gore implored his audience to help America be similarly disenthralled, "to shed our illusions that have led us to ignore the consequences of the global warming that has already begun."
And the crowd went wild.
I don't know why the geographic state of the United States
was mysteriously steered away from its lawfully elected leader.
If there is purpose here,
It is a mysterious purpose indeed.
Perhaps that purpose is beginning to reveal itself.
What it is About
* Persistence of Memory, Dali