Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Since so many people criticized Bush for failing to mention any specific mistakes of his (when a questioner in the second debate asked for examples), let's remind ourselves of what the New Yorker said about Al Gore:
Gore remains engaged, serious, credentialled. It is still easy to imagine him as a good, if unloved, President. And yet one trait persists—and it is a trait that he shares with George W. Bush. He is extremely reluctant to admit a mistake, even a small one. Midway through our talks in Nashville, I asked him what was the biggest mistake he had ever made in politics. He paused, made false starts, paused again, and recalled that in the campaign four years ago he had a prepared response for just such a question. But he couldn’t remember what it was.
And as Baseball Crank points out in the middle of a lengthy post, Kerry doesn't admit mistakes either:
In any event, where, I would ask, is the evidence that Kerry is better at admitting mistakes than Bush? This is a guy who brought all sorts of political grief to himself by stubbornly refusing for three decades to admit that he was wrong to repeat false charges, under oath and on national televison, that smeared his comrades in Vietnam as guilty of pervasive war crimes. Has Kerry admitted he was wrong to oppose nearly every aspect of the foreign policy strategy that President Reagan pursused to great effect in the closing and victorious chapter of the Cold War? Has he admitted he was wrong to oppose the use of force to kick Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991? Maybe I missed something, but I don't even recall him admitting he was wrong for trying to slash the intelligence budget in the mid-1990s following the first World Trade Center bombing. Indeed, one of the most common threads throughout Kerry's behavior in this campaign has been his unwillingness to take any personal responsibility for mistakes, from blaming his speechwriters for things that come out of Kerry's own mouth to picayune things like blaming the Secret Service when he falls down on the slopes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart. Did you REALLY read through all of that New Yorker article about Al Gore to find the passage you quoted?

I almost fell asleep just scanning it!

You are a better man than I, Gunga Din.

Peg K

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't "the New Yorker" who said Gore was loathe to admit mistakes; it was one journalist who had an article in the New Yorker.

Besides which, Gore actually did suggest one possible mistake he had made--his "sugar subsidies vote." (Weak, but at least it's something.) And then he copped to another mistake--his "failure" (that's how he described it) to call Joe Lieberman.

Moreover, Gore is responding in a relatively impromptu context, four years' removed from political office; Bush lodged his responses in (1) a scripted press conference (questions provided in advance) and (2) a debate followup a few months later.

None of this of course is to mention the significance of Bush's errors compared to Gore's (whatever those are supposed to be) or the comparative intensity of the public discourse surrounding them.

On the whole, then, comparing Gore to Bush on this score would seem to be like comparing apples to orangutans.


8:30 AM  

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