President Gore and the GWOT

Oliver Willis has entered the “What if” parody game. Other than not being particularly funny and demonstrating ignorance of basic high school civics, it’s a brilliant satire.

U.S. President Al Gore was impeached by the House of Representatives but not convicted by the Senate, thanks only to the vote of Senator Jim Jeffords (R, VT) who was the only Republican to vote against Gore’s removal from office. The historic vote ended a three-year fight by the Republican party to repudiate what Rep. Tom Delay called Gore’s “reckless, evil and unnecessary” response to the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001.

So what is it that Gore was impeached for? Overly aggressive action by invading Afghanistan three weeks after 9/11? Assassinating al Qaeda leaders? Even if, for some rather bizarre reason, we thought that Republicans would be upset by these actions, surely they’d not be so politically stupid as to impeach Gore for something so wildly popular. Even if one believes Jeffords would have stayed a Republican under Gore, his single vote wouldn’t have staved off removal from office given that it requires a 2/3 vote (i.e., 67 Senators) to do that.

Indeed, the composition of the goverment in Willis’ alternative future is unclear. Had Gore won in 2000, Lieberman would have been Vice President and lost his Senate seat. The replacement was going to be appointed by a Republican governor. So, we’d have had a 51-49 GOP majority. But Trent Lott is the minority leader for some reason. Perhaps the 2002 elections went in a different direction with Gore in power? That’s certainly plausible, although it’s unclear why Lott would still be in the leadership since Strom Thurmond would likely have still retired and Lott still uttered his stupid statements, given he’d said the same thing several times before.

It was a 180 degree change in tenor for the GOP, who had complained of foot dragging by Gore while he waited three weeks to give the order for the invasion of Afghanistan. As the Taliban regime fell, President Gore rejected pressure from Governor George Bush’s “Americans for Real Government” group to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Bush, in his capacity as opposition leader, led a three-month media campaign accusing Gore of “failing to lead” by not occupying Iraq. Media pressure forced the president to address the nation, explaining that defeating international terrorism is the “priority” for America while he would increase support to various groups vying for Hussein’s ouster. It was just days after this speech when U.S. special forces captured terror leader Osama Bin Laden after pushing into Pakistani territory. Gore said that he regretted having to cross Pakistan’s borders, “but Bin Laden and his network represent an ongoing threat to national security, and I will not allow an arbitrary point on a map to compromise American security”.

Does anyone really think Al Gore–Al Gore–would have been more aggressive in fighting terrorists than Bush? That he’d have been more willing than Bush to ignore international public opinion and unilaterally cross borders in pursuit of terrorists? That he’d have been more willing to overturn decades of Democratic Party-imposed–and, by the way, largely good–restrictions on the domestic activities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Really?!

And since when have defeated presidential candidates led shadow governments?! Did Gore start us on a parliamentary system or something? We didn’t have a shadow government during the Civil War, during the worst of the late-1960s bitterness, or Watergate. The jihad and assassination business (elsewhere in the piece) is just too silly for words. It’s like red kryptonite to stupid.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    I think you hit on why I usually avoid his site.

    The self-congratulating cleverness that pervades his prose gets on my nerves.

  2. Rodney Dill says:

    Gore’s sole response to the 9/11 tragedy would have been a scathing letter to bin laden, condemning him for the negative environmental impact the decimation of twin towers had on the New York area.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    I find most of Oliver’s stuff to be derivative and unfunny, in addition to being pretentious. This seems more of the same.

  4. Moe Lane says:

    It’s just bad spin control, James. And, my, will I have fun with it when I can finally get to a place from which I may blog… 🙂