Posted by: Kevin | September 5, 2007

We Get the Leadership We Deserve

I just finished reading this article in the October issue of Vanity Fair about the media’s coverage of Al Gore in the run up to the 2000 election.  It’s a depressing look at the disparity between the media’s coverage of Al Gore and George Bush in the 18 months leading up to Nov of 2000.  The basic premise of the article is that the press screwed Al Gore over during the 2000 campaign.

“Al Gore said he’d invented the Internet; announced that he had personally discovered Love Canal, the most infamous toxic-waste site in the country; and bragged that he and Tipper had been the sole inspiration for the golden couple in Erich Segal’s best-selling novel Love Story”

Those were just the three biggest examples of Gore’s alleged “truth problem”.  The real problem is that none of them are accurate reflections of what Gore actually said.  They’re miscaracterizations which the press as a whole pounced upon during the presidential campaign.  Something that the article does a good job of pointing out. 

At the same time the supposedly liberal media was crucifying Gore over phony and superficial concerns, they were fauning over Bush’s “likability”.

“Frank Bruni, now the restaurant critic for The New York Times but then a novice national political-beat reporter for the same newspaper, wrote affectionately of Bush’s “folksy affability,” “distinctive charm,” “effortless banter,” and the feather pillow that he traveled with.”

I’ve never been a huge fan of Al Gore but looking back it’s obvious that he got jobbed.  Personnally, I ended up voting for Nader because I knew Bush was an idiot and I thought Gore was scummy.  I got that impression because it was a running theme throughout all of the coverage of Al Gore. 

I’ve long since come to the conclusion that I got suckered.  My own protest vote for Nader didn’t matter because I was living in Massachusetts at the time.  But how many other “protest votes” got cast?  How many other independents abandoned Gore for the same reason I did?

The press coverage had a big effect on the outcome of the 2000 election.  In the end, we chose the candidate that we wanted to have a drink with, rather than the guy who could actually do the job.  Did we learn anything as a result?  Of course not. 

The 2004 campaign featured many of the same themes.  Lovable, likable Bush versus Liberal elitist John Kerry.  The media focused on manufactured controversies like Kerry’s war record and no attention was paid to actual issues.  Look for more of the same in 2008.  If we, the voters, don’t get past that bullshit rapidly.  We are once again going to be stuck with a superficial moron for a president.

Hat tip to Shakesville

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