- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2000

In the weeks since Al Gore's nomination-acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, the media have focused all but exclusively on the poll bounce the vice president received from it, whether and how long it might last, and how much of it was due to female voters swooning over "the kiss."
By contrast, scant scrutiny has been given to the actual content of the 50-minute address, which may have set a per-minute spending record in the history of political oratory. According to a National Taxpayers Union analysis, Mr. Gore proposed in that speech an estimated $2.3 trillion in additional federal spending. (You do the math.)
After going back and rereading the text of the vice president's Aug. 17 speech to the party faithful in Los Angeles, however, one finds that just how Mr. Gore proposes to pay for his spend-a-thon was far from the only question that remains unanswered.
Here, in no particular order, are 12 questions his speech raised that I've yet to see asked by any member of Mr. Gore's news media entourage. If reporters don't or won't the campaign of his Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, should.
1) If the projected budget surpluses on which you are basing your spending plans don't materialize, or come up short, which promises will you put on hold? And since when is giving taxpayers back their own money considered "squandering" the surplus?
2) How do all the new spending proposals in your speech square with President Clinton's assertion in his 1996 State of the Union address that "the era of big government is over"? Did he mean it then, and more importantly do you believe it now?
3) You understandably touted the economic achievements of the Clinton-Gore years the big budget surpluses, the low inflation and unemployment rates, slashed welfare rolls and the like. Does the Republican Congress deserve any of the credit? And do you think you'd be looking at hundreds of billions of dollars of surpluses had Democrats continued to control Congress throughout your administration? Would a Democratic Congress have reformed welfare?
4) You said you would "protect and defend a woman's right to choose" and that "the last thing this country needs is a Supreme Court that overturns Roe vs. Wade." Isn't that a "litmus test" the very sort of thing that previous Republican presidential nominees have been taken to task for in their judicial nominees?
5) You also said you would defend affirmative action. The administration's mantra has been "mend it, don't end it." In what way does it need "mending" and what has the Clinton-Gore administration done to date to actually mend its inherent unfairness to non-minorities?
6) You reiterated your support for homosexual rights, but on whose side do you come down in the battle between gays and the Boy Scouts? Should the Scouts be legally able to bar gay scoutmasters? Do you support stripping the Scouts of their federal charter because they discriminate? Would you refuse the honorary chairmanship of the Boy Scouts automatically conferred on presidents if you are elected?
7) You made at least six references in your speech to "working families." What is your definition of a "working family"? If it's defined by annual income, what is the upper limit? Are people who earn more than that not also "working families"?
8) You railed against "special interests," "powerful forces" and "powerful interests" and against "special-interest money" in elections. Are teachers unions, homosexuals, trial lawyers and Hollywood not special interests? Are their contributions to your campaign and to the Democratic Party not "special-interest money"?
9) You made a point of making it clear that you were your "own man." Should that be read as a repudiation of President Clinton? If so, how does that square with your February 1999 assertion that history would record Mr. Clinton as one of history's "greatest presidents"? If not a repudiation of Mr. Clinton, what does it mean?
10) You spoke out against "big polluters" as though anyone is pro-polluting. Don't Republicans breathe the same air and drink the same water as Democrats?
11) You promised that "we will move toward universal health care, step by step." Isn't this just incremental "Hillarycare," the same nationalized health care that the public resoundingly rejected in 1994? And if "it's just wrong to have life-and-death medical decisions made by bean-counters at HMOs who don't have a license to practice medicine," isn't it at least as undesirable to have those life-and-death decisions made by bean-counters at the Department of Health and Human Services?
12) And finally, you say you won't "go along with any plan that would drain taxpayer money away from our public schools and give it to private schools in the form of vouchers." If you're so committed to the public schools, why did you send Karenna, Kristin, Sarah and Albert III to National Cathedral School for Girls and St. Alban's, respectively? Why aren't you "pro-choice" on education, and why shouldn't the children of "working families" have the same educational opportunities that yours had?

Peter Parisi is a copy editor with The Washington Times.

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