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Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Gore and Fema: I Rescind My Concession

By Steven Taylor @ 1:41 pm

The Great Gore Rehash of 2003 continues. (also here, here, and here)

Ok, I rescind my correction, because after looking at the transcript of the first debate in 2000 (as published by the NYT’s on 10/4/00, page A30), the FEMA thing does fit pattern that I am describing. Gore is like the kid in the class who yearns to the be smartest, so has to one-up everyone.

The reason I say this fits, is because Bush references a specific fire, and yet Gore has to say I was there, too!. Is it a lie? Maybe. Could he have misremembered, given the facts below, unlikely. Did he go to Houston to be briefed, sorta (see below). Is Houston near Parker County? No—it is up near Fort Worth.

MR. BUSH I - you know, as governor, one of the things you have to deal with is catastrophe. I can remember the fires that swept Parker County, Tex…

[…]

MR. GORE Yeah. First I want to compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out. And FEMA has been a major flagship project of our reinventing government efforts. And I agree, it works extremely well now.

Again, this can be interpreted as an innocent mistake, but in the broader context of a constant need to self-aggrandize, it fits the pattern, which is the ongoing need by Gore to make himself sound better, even on rather trivial matters. Plus, this is a pretty specific claim.

According to ABCNews.com (that HQ of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) reported on this as follows:

Issue: The Texas Fires

What Gore Said: In his response to moderator Jim Lehrer’s question about “your ability to handle the unexpected,” Bush cited his handling of the fires that swept through Parker County Texas in June, 1998. “I accompanied [Federal Emergency Management Agency Director] James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out,” Gore said in his response.
Fact: Gore did travel to Texas in late June, after the fires broke out, but he was there to address the Texas Democratic Party, not to inspect fire damage. And Witt was not with him at any point during the trip.
Response: “I was there in Texas. I think James Lee Witt went to the same fires. I’ve made so many trips with James to these disaster sites. … if James Lee was there before or after, then, I got that wrong then,” Gore told Good Morning America.

Filed under: US Politics

Click here to go to the main page.

15 Comments»

  1. Pretty weak stuff, Steven. The fact is Gore did cover disaster areas pretty extensively as part of his duties. This could only be considered a lie if he had never visited disaster areas.

    It’s imporatnt to understand a lie is an attempt to deceive. For example, if I were to say I played in the NFL-knowingly fully I have not-that’s a lie.

    Here’s a good reallife example of a lie: In 1998, Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater specifically asked Bush about his arrest record after information surfaced that he was arrested for disorderly conduct in 1966 when, as a student at Yale, he was busted for snatching a Christmas wreath in New Haven, Conn. “Asked whether he had been arrested on anything ‘after 1968,’” Slater wrote, “the governor replied, ‘No.’”

    But we now know Dubya was arrested for DWI in 1976.

    Is that not a lie?

    Moreover, Dubya got his suspended license penalty lifted early-despite not attending required driver counseling courses-by *testifying* he only drank a few beers a month. Yet, Dubya (as well as wife and friends) acknowledge he continued to have an alcohol problem for the next decade.

    We can also point to the fact Dubya decided to serve jury duty in 1996, during his first year as governor. On his questionaire, he simply left blank the questions about prior arrests and trials. Then he found himself on a trial for drunk driving, where every juror is eventually asked about prior convictions for drunk driving. The night before the trial, Dubya’s lawyer asked the defense attorney to dismiss him, because “it would be improper for a governor to sit on a criminal case in which he could later be asked to grant clemency.”

    All in all, Steven, the inability to recall details of official duties pales in comparison with the outright deception employed by your president.

    Comment by JadeGold — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 2:13 pm

  2. So, since I have been to a lot University campuses in my day, if I say that “I’ve been to Harvard with Dr. Jones,” it really doesn’t matter if I never did, since I have been to lots of Universities and have seen Dr. Jones in the past?

    And you do realize, that in terms of debating a topic, it is irrelevant whether or not Bush or anyone else lied, it would not absolve Gore (i.e., the topic of contention). Those are two different, and logically distinct issues. To make charges against someone else avoids the argument at hand.

    Again, you refuse to deal with the pattern argument. That is what makes any given statement salient. I concede that any one of these statements, by itself, is not that big a deal. You need to focus.

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 2:24 pm

  3. And the point is that Gore’s need to self-inflate is an attempt to deceive, just like embellishing a resume is.

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 2:27 pm

  4. Hey Jade—

    You keep doging the questions….

    #1) Did Gore claim he created the internet

    #2) Did he really create the internet?

    You seem to have all the answers… Surely you have a YES or a NO hanging around.

    Comment by Paul — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 3:54 pm

  5. Greetings my fellow drug abusers,

    I love Paul’s pigeonholing label “have it both wayers.” It just roles off the tongue. However, as an accused “have it both wayer,” I must point out that I never said that Quayle WASN’T bashed by the media. In fact, Quayle WAS bashed by the media. But Quayle is a distraction, as are so many other things. Let’s get back to Gore.

    I’m wondering just for the record: Have any of you who consider Gore a pathological exaggerating liar ever worked for a politician outside of campaigning?

    That said, I am not here to defend Gore’s exaggerations. As I’ve stated before, I am here to defend Gore’s record as a typical obnoxious politician.

    That’s not to say, I don’t appreciate the extensive research and the impressive list of contradictions and exaggerations that Al Gore allegedly made over the course of his career. What did you expect to find?

    May I suggest that a extensive sampling of other politicians’ statements might help with your study. This, of course would require the investigative expertise of the National Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, a sprinkling of major television networks (you can even go with Fox News, if you like) and a few hundred other media outlets. I’ll let you pick. Now that I think about it, you should choose politicians that have been in the public eye for at least 15 years and have run for national office. That always brings out the prying eyes. I have every confidence that these efforts will prove that Gore is a typical obnoxious politician.

    It was after my fifth tab of acid that I realized that Steven seemed to realize this too when he said “I would concur, that as an isolated quotation, Gore’s Internet statement can be explained away, as can any of the individual statements.”

    Hold on. Let’s spark up a fatty.

    1. Does that mean a list of similar statements that can each be explained away individually form a pattern that can be explained away completely?

    2. Or does that mean a list of similar statements that can each be explained away individually form a cohesive pattern?

    Although I’m an accused “have it both wayer” I’m going to have to go with number 1.

    And by the way, what does “explained away” really mean? Will you explain it away for me? I hope it means that the explanation proves that the statement is false.

    One more thing: The “throw all my research on the wall and see what sticks” method of discussion is intriguing and quite provocative. I could spend a career trying to sort it all out. But I haven’t forgotten Steven’s answer to the question: Do you know anyone who at any point in time believed, or still believes, that Al Gore invented the Internet?

    He said: “the point was never that people believed that Gore invented the Internet-but that the statement he made was a pompous exaggeration.”

    Pompous exaggeration aside, I assume Steve’s answer is NO. I do not know anyone who at any point in time believed, or still believes, that Al Gore invented the Internet.

    All righty then. This brings me to my next question. Do you think that Al Gore believed that he could convince a segment of the CNN audience that he invented the Internet?

    Incorrigibly yours,
    Nathan Callahan

    Comment by Nathan Callahan — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 6:42 pm

  6. We are now officially going in circles.

    And no, I don’t think that this represents a trypical pattern for all politicians.

    And while you make tht claim, your argument still comes back to a single example, and therefore I am not dissuaded in terms of my general thesis.

    And no, just because a given example can be explained, the pattern does hold-if one has to constantly “explain away” statements, that’s a pattern. I refer you back to the example of my hypothetical behavior-are you going to tell me you wouldn’t find that behavior obnoxious?

    And I disagree, you seem rather hell-bent on defending Gore. Indeed, I have done the research on Gore-your turn to do it on someone else, if you like.

    You are willfully ignoring the fact this isn’t my little thesis-it was one that was clearly proferred in the mainstream press, by liberal observers as well as conservative ones.

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 8:19 pm

  7. Plus, the bottom line of all of this was that the behavior led to a reputation which led to problems for him at the polls.

    Can you really argue against that thesis?

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 8:29 pm

  8. Nathan… At least you have a freaking sense of humor!!!

    OK I appreciate your argument that “Gore is as bad as the rest of them.” That would make me upgrade you from “hallucinogenic drug user” up to at least “hopeless sycophant” which is a sizable upgrade. ;-)

    But to be SPECIFIC.. When I mentioned the “have it both wayers” I meant those of you (and maybe it was not directed at you) who would never admit in a million years that Gore ever committed even a single exaggeration but then claim Bush lied because we have not yet found a ton of weapons in Iraq. If you are not one of those folks then don’t fret about it.

    But SOME people are indeed “have it both wayers,” If you wish to excuse yourself from that pack, so much the better. (I’m too lazy to check your earlier quotes)

    And to try to answer your other question about “explaining away” a statement…

    You take a different approach at defending Gore, you claim they are all bad. This technique was used effectively when Clinton was revealed to be a low life scum he replied by saying “OH YEAH, Well so was Thomas Jefferson!” I’ve always found this to be a foolish defense because you are tacitly admitting the wrongdoing. (I get your point that Gore got noticed and the others did not, I just don’t agree.)

    But other people have tried the “Gore never lied” defense. That is a much harder sell. When you have this abundance of evidence, if you want to make the case Gore never lied, then you need to “explain away” the comments. That is you need to prove the statement correct, prove the quote wrong or prove it was a simple excusable mistake. (think reasonable doubt) If there were 40 accusations against Gore and 15-20 were hopelessly in Gore’s favor, then the balance might be looked at much closer OR the benefit of the doubt (presumed innocence) would be given. Unfortunately for those who try this defense, few if any are gimmie shots for Gore.

    AND finally, (I hope, my fingers hurt) to answer your question….

    No, I don’t know of anyone who still thinks Gore invented the internet. That is what makes this so sad.

    [My conclusion/rest of your answer]

    Gore tried too hard. He lived for 9 years in the shadow of Bill Clinton who could turn on a room is 20 seconds flat. Gore was a tree.

    As such, I believe he tried with everything he said to give it that extra punch. Bill Clinton had (to me) a most annoying speech habit. He would CONTINUALLY declare himself the be the “First President to xxx.” (remember that?) NOW- Clinton was smart… He set those up and they were often completely meaningless. “I was the first President to come to Alabama and shake a black preacher’s hand on a Thursday.” It did not matter how meaningless the claim was, it always sounded good and drew a round of applause.

    Gore TRIED to have the same effect on people. But rather than make meaningless (prepared) statements that were true, he struggled to come up with them on the fly. Telling the truth was never the long suit of the Clinton crowd so he never thought much about it. He thought it was like telling a fish story in a barroom. Even if a fact or two here or there was wrong it was close enough. The problem is ya can’t do that when you run for President.

    That is what makes it so sad. As Steven and others have said, he lied *cough exaggerated cough* about things that meant nothing. Did Gore REALLY believe people would think he invented the internet? For a nanosecond I bet he thought he could sell it as well as Bill Clinton. He believed it long enough to make a foolish, election costing mistake. Have you ever said something and not believed those words were coming out your own mouth? I believe that is what Gore did on the internet quote. He tried too hard to give an impressive answer.

    Steven has tried to make his point with a whole number of different words. Lemme try to use new ones… Steven is saying (and I agree) that Gore got the reputation because at some level there was fire creating all the smoke. A sane, rational, NON-drug user can make the case that while the fire was only a matchstick the media teated it like a forest fire. I’m a republican, I can sympathize with that, but denying there was even a spark is just delusional.

    Paul

    I hope that convinced you of something, it wore out my fingers.

    Comment by Paul — Tuesday, September 9, 2003 @ 10:36 pm

  9. Greetings,

    My sincerest thanks to Paul and his fingers, for the thoughtful reply and his improved opinion of me. Accordingly now, I’m just a “hopeless sycophant.” And I ask you, for what? Did I ever say I liked Gore? I don’t. Did I ever bring up George Bush? No. Did I ever say that I’d like to caress Ann Coulter’s footnotes? No comment. What I did say was that in politics exaggeration is the norm. Which means that if I’m a sycophant, I’m servile only to a defense of what I see as political realities — not a person or a party or a dogma. And while some may see my condition as hopeless, I like to think of it as persistent. It’s a trait that others – marching straight ahead in lock step – often consider circular.

    Again, I’ll ask if anyone at Poliblog has ever worked for a politician outside of campaigns. For better or worse, I have. For the last 17 years I’ve been a consultant, muckraker/operative and hopeless sycophant for both Republicans and Democrats – that’s right, Consumervatives AND Lieberals – in national, state and local politics. How can that be, you say? Are you a mercenary? No. I have political beliefs that have led me into closed door sessions with both sides of the political spectrum. I am not a cheerleader. I’m a pragmatist. From my somewhat limited perspective, our political world (at least the one that’s competitive) is filled with wonderfully sincere big-headed blowhards, glad-handing opportunists, a few self-righteous saints waiting to be crucified, some authentically good folks, and the occasional evangelist. I’ll say it again. Gore is guilty of nothing more than typical political obnoxiousness.

    However, when you say such a thing in an environment where you’re either “for us or against us,” a demon or an angel, a liberal or a conservative there’s no middle ground. Gore was wrong. I was wrong. You were wrong. As with most political discussions, televised and otherwise, attention spans usually last only as long as it takes for points to become opinions.

    It was proposed that Gore set the highwater mark for exaggeration. Three examples were given. One, the Internet quote, was held up as the crowning achievement of his gall. I thought it might be worthwhile to look closely at that particular quote. It’s very likely that if the words “I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”
    had never been said, Lieberman would be our Vice-President. (As a matter of record, the quote initially appeared on this site as “inventing the internet.” That’s what Coulter said, too.)

    If we can dissect the Internet quote episode, not just the words, but the result of those words, we might be able to see how information travels in the political world . . . or we might be able to see why pathological liars go into politics.

    Instead, the inclination is to voice an opinion and then search the Internet and the press for proof that it’s gospel.

    On the other hand, if you’re focused on one important event your efforts might be officially declared circular. But what’s circular about closely examining the most well-known example of Gore’s exaggeration-based media persona, especially, since no one has ever suggested that the quote was taken seriously by anyone on the face of the planet?

    Paul suggested that Gore for one instant believed he could get away with saying he created the Internet because Clinton could have gotten away with it. Maybe. Paul says he agrees with Steven’s assessment that “Gore got the reputation [of the uber exaggerator] because at some level there was fire creating all the smoke.” Paul goes on to say that you “can make the case that while the fire was only a matchstick the media treated it like a forest fire.” He continues, “. . . but denying there was even a spark is just delusional.”

    Is it so hard to believe that the spark is present in the majority of politicians? Is it so hard to believe that the very nature of our political system helps create obnoxious personalities? And since Poliblog initially brought it in to the fray, isn’t it worth considering who fanned the flames of the fire and why?

    Doggedly yours,
    Nathan Callahan

    Comment by Nathan Callahan — Wednesday, September 10, 2003 @ 7:17 pm

  10. Nathan,

    I very much appreciate the thoughtful commentary.

    I come at this as an observer and anayst, not a practioner, so I appreciate your perspective. However, I would argue, all partisanship and any hint of sniping aside, that Gore did set something of a high water mark for this kind of behavior, especially in the “white lie on the fly” kind of embellishment-at-the-moment-to-prove-he-is-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room kind of exaggerations. While it is undoubtedly true that all politicias put a positive spin (to put it mildly) on their accomplishements (indeed, I doubt there is a politician alive who has never done what I am describing), but there are different categories of such utterances, and some do it more than others (and some far, far more than others). I don’t see, for example, Howard Dean being one prone to such regular inflations of his past, especially on petty, tangential stuff.

    And, by the way, I thik I have cited and documented at least 25 examples of Gore’s little habit, not just three. It was a quick count of several different posts, and I am tired now after haveing supervised 5 to 7 year-olds at church all evening, so my count may be slightly off.

    And, to put a cap on it, there is no doubt that all who seek elective office have huge egos, and think rather highly of themselves, shall we say.

    Take care,

    Steven

    Comment by Steven — Wednesday, September 10, 2003 @ 8:59 pm

  11. Hey Nathan,

    First … IT WAS A JOKE! ;-) Seriously if I thought you were one of the Goreons and you are not, accept my apologies. I said in my post I was too lazy to got back and read your other posts. (my bad) It is just I have seen a rash of people that think Gore walks on water. I don’t need to go back and check your earlier posts as I can tell by reading this thread that you can write in a complete thought and actually make sense… That puts you head and shoulders above the people my comments were aimed at. (and you all know who you are ;-) But to be fair to me, I never mentioned your name… You jumped in front the bullet and claimed I aimed at you. nuff siad.

    Maybe Nathan, there is a certain irony in Gore getting labeled as the uber exaggerator.

    Traditionally when a pol lies, they do it for a reason. They deny they voted one way on a controversial piece of legislation etc. I truly think one of the reasons Gore got tagged is that he lied about dumb shit.

    I think people glommed on to the internet quote because it was whacky. (and topical, the net was all the rage remember) It appealed to the same gene in us that makes us read the “News of the Odd.” And while people might get bored with the typical pol lies. Ya gotta admit, Gore had fun lies. “Tipper and I were the inspiration for Love Story.”

    I think what bothered many people about Gore is that he lied when telling the truth was not that bad. Clinton got a pass for lying (mostly) because he did not want to tell Hillary. (this next part is key) **Gore got nailed because he seemed to lie out of habit. He gave the impression that he was incapable of telling the truth.** He lied when the truth was down right irrelevant. And his lies were SOOO farfetched.

    And I must tell you, (taking off partisan hat) that really did scare me as a voter. (granted he would not have gotten my vote either way, but forget that for a minute.)

    I genuinely worried about that behavior. And in truth, I still do.

    So maybe you might make the case he lied the same amount but don’t discount the capriciousness and the wackiness of the lies as having an impact. When the (potential) leader of the free world just starts telling whoppers for no reason, that bothers people.

    Thanks for a good sane debate.

    Paul

    Comment by Paul — Wednesday, September 10, 2003 @ 10:43 pm

  12. Paul,

    Did I sound angry? Sorry. I thought I was expressing incredulity. I’m going to have to work on my tone and phrasing. Either that or stop making fun of Ann Coulter. On second thought . . .

    “You still don’t get it, Paul,” Nathan says incredulously as Coulter looks on. “I don’t care what you think my relationship with Al Gore is. In the real world, Gore isn’t the exception. He’s the rule.”

    “I was only kidding about the Gorean thing,” Paul says.

    Nathan throws Coulter a look she can feel in her hip pocket. She turns red and tries to giggle. He continues.

    “Why not find out WHO made Gore the exception instead of burying your head in ‘Gore exaggerate’ Nexus searches?”

    “Give it your best shot, Nathan,” Ann moans.

    Nathan throws Paul’s words back at him in a mocking singsong.

    “While people might get bored with the typical pol lies. Ya gotta admit, Gore had fun lies. “Tipper and I were the inspiration for “Love Story.’

    “I hate to have to explain this again,” Nathan continues,” but Gore DID inspire “Love Story.” “The Tennessean” misquoted Segal in their own story about the book. It was “The Tennessean” that included Tipper. Gore read the story. He believed it. He worked there when he was young. That will teach him to trust the press. Read your own lips, Paul. That’s where the fun lie is coming from.”

    “You’re such a bad boy, Nathan. “ Ann coos.

    Nathan heats up.

    “I think the real question is what kind of . . . . What’s the word? I just heard it. Oh yeah. What kind of sycophant would continue calling it a political lie? Gore was including his wife in a pop romantic epic, for the love of God.”

    “I love it when you get religious, Nathan,” Ann says biting her hand.

    “Shut up, Ann. This isn’t a faith-based argument. “Love Story” was mainstream romantic. What president in our history wouldn’t have included his wife if he were a character in it? Are you listening to me, Paul?”

    In the corner of the room, laptop in hand, Paul frantically inputs “Gore, Tipper, Segal, Tennessean. All Dates” and hits return.

    Nathan gets in his face. “Because Gore held out a semantic flower to Tipper you call him a liar. May all your children grow up to be liberal!”

    Paul’s laptop crashes. Coulter swoons and falls to the floor. “Take me, Nathan,” she gasps.

    “Take you where, honey. Aren’t you more concerned that you’re not asking the hard questions? How about this: Who started the ball rolling on the “Love Story “quote? Who pulled Ceci Connolly’s strings? Who paid and who gained?”

    Fade to black,
    Nathan Callahan

    Comment by Nathan Callahan — Thursday, September 11, 2003 @ 5:19 pm

  13. An amusing and enjoyable read. However, you are now shifting the argument away from “Gore is just like everyone else” to “Gore was set up".

    I would argue that you can’t set someone up with this kind of stuff unless there is something to work with. Indeed, that was part of the point of the Quayle post-it was possible to paint Quayle as a bit dim because he said a lot of things that sounded, well, a bit dim.

    Comment by Steven — Thursday, September 11, 2003 @ 5:42 pm


  14. Comment by Deleter Spy — Monday, July 12, 2004 @ 3:05 am


  15. Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 3:14 pm

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