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Bush vs. Gore
The fight for the American presidency. Impressions of the first debate.
Check also the biography of Al Gore.

Article added on October 5, 2000

 
Jim Lehrer had the honor to arbitrate the first presidential debate, televised by CNN. Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934. He studied journalism at the University of Missouri, worked for Texan newspapers and then went to the Public Broadcasting System, where, since 1983, he presents the Newshour With Jim Lehrer. He is a respected journalist who rose to fame during the Watergate scandal. Among other literary works, Lehrer has written a dozen novels.
 
What was the debate's outcome? Gore is less stiff than in the past but still tries to show off his knowledge and has kept his tendency to exaggerate his accomplishments. Bush was partly wrong when he said: "I'm beginning to think that not only did he invent the Internet, but he invented the calculator. It's fuzzy math." Still, he made a good point since Gore gave the impression of an arrogant politician who knows everything better and always wants to have the last word. Later, Gore was asked about a possible exaggeration during the debate and acknowledged that maybe "I got that wrong" in saying he accompanied Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Lee Witt to fires in Texas. At the same time, Gore was more substantial than Bush, especially on foreign policy, where the Republican candidate seemed uncomfortable, which, of course, came as no surprise. Therefore, the Republican has united an impressive foreign and defense policy team around him, including Colin Powell, Richard Perle, Condoleezza Rice and, last but not least, Dick Cheney.
 
Bush was more aggressive and repeatedly called Gore's programs names. That was counterproductive. However, the most surprising and important outcome of the debate was the fact that, overall, Bush managed - at least in this first debate - to show that he has a certain substance. He was able to close the stature gap with Gore, who, before the duel, had repeatedly insisted that Bush lacked the substance to become president. In the debate itself, Gore denied having said so - he only had meant Bush's plans, not the man himself. Bush made a good point when he acknowledged: "I fully recognize I'm not of Washington. I'm from Texas. And he [Gore]'s got a lot of experience. But so do I. And I've been the chief executive officer of the second biggest state in the union. I've had a proud record of working with both Republicans and Democrats, which is what our nation needs." Bush rightly insisted on the fact that he had shown the capacity to work together with Democrats and to get things done. Moreover, he seemed somewhat closer to the people thanks to his possibility to listen to and to show compassion for them whereas Gore remained more on an abstract level which allowed him to look more statesmanlike.


 
Gore insisted too much on being the defender of the working Americans, the poor and the middle class, as well as being a champion of campaign financing reform. Although he was not convicted for wrongdoings in this field, it is evident that he was not at the center of a campaign finance scandal during his years in the White House by accident. The Clinton-Gore administration has been in power for eight years. Power corrupts. Therefore, one of the key questions is whether the Democrats should get another four years at the White House or not. Bush constantly spoke of the eight years in which Gore had not been able to pass the needed health care reform. Of course, the GOP is largely co-responsible for the lack of results in the field, but the absence of results could hurt Gore. It was one of the key issues of the Clinton administration and nothing has been done. A bi-partisan approach is necessary to end this shame - dozens of millions of Americans are without a health insurance. At the same time, the errors made by most European countries, where huge and inefficient bureaucracies have been created in the health sector, should be avoided.
 
The current prosperity is not the work of the Clinton administration. The pressure from the GOP and Ross Perot brought a certain change to the Democrat's initial government spending plans and helped to bring back prosperity. The revolution of information technology and skyrocketing stock market prices were the keys to the economic boom. Neither Gore nor Bush anticipate an end of this trend. On the contrary, all their future plans are based on continuing prosperity. It is true that productivity has been substantially improved in recent years. At the same time, Americans live and consume on credit. Their savings rate is negative. The bubble could burst, a lot of people be left with debts, consumption slump and foreign capital leave America. An economic crisis would be the result. Neither of the two candidates seems to be prepared for such a (possible) scenario. A real leader would try to anticipate such a crisis and take the necessary steps to ensure a soft landing. They are either blind or do not want to confront the American public with negative, uncomfortable thoughts.
 
In short, after the first debate, the race has become even closer with two candidates who could not convince. After the duel, GOP Vice President candidate Dick Cheney was asked about the debate's result. His short intervention left by far the best impression that evening: a calm and intelligent man who is comfortable with himself and does not have to pretend to be somebody else. Although the conservative voting record of Cheney is not very appealing, the question was inevitable: Are the wrong guys running?











Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages


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 © www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber All rights reserved.