- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

As Vice President Albert Gore Jr. prepares to give the biggest speech of his 25-year political career, the natural question arises: Which member of his family, alive or dead, will the vice president exploit for political purposes this time?

In his acceptance speech for the vice presidential nomination at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Mr. Gore exploited his son, Albert Gore III. The boy had several years earlier had been a victim in a serious traffic accident, and this was somehow considered "appropriate," given that Mr. Gore had given up pursuing the 1992 Democratic nomination in order for him to spend quality family time, so it was said, especially with his son. At the time, of course, President George Bush was riding a 91-percent approval wave at the end of the Persian Gulf War. This was not the kind of political odds Mr. Gore had the guts for.

At the 1996 convention, Mr. Gore exploited his late sister, who, having begun smoking at the age of 13, had died of lung cancer at the age of 46. "Tomorrow morning, another 13-year-old girl will start smoking," Mr. Gore tenderly said. "I love her, too." How touching. Of course, his sister's death from smoking had not prevented Mr. Gore from bragging about growing tobacco during the 1988 North Carolina presidential primary. Nor did it prevent Mr. Gore from gratefully accepting tobacco contributions to his 1990 senatorial election campaign. Nor did her death prevent the Democratic Party from directing tobacco contributions to state Democratic parties. Here is Mr. Gore's explanation for his delayed conversion to the anti-tobacco crusade: "I felt the numbness that prevented me from integrating into all aspects of my life the implications of what that tragedy really meant."

All indications of the likely victim this year point to Mr. Gore's father, Albert Gore Sr., the late ex-senator whose civil rights record the vice president has exploited and distorted throughout the 1999-2000 presidential campaign.

Repeatedly, Mr. Gore has been recalling his father as a hero in the civil rights wars of the 1960s. Throughout the convention in Los Angeles, moreover, the Democratic Party, in a bit of historical revisionism, has been extolling the 1964 Civil Rights Act as the party's greatest achievement. Indeed, the Democratic Party platform asserts, "Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the proudest moments of our nation's history and a sterling testament to our aspirations as a people."

But the very month President Clinton graduated from high school the U.S. Senate was in the midst of a 57-day filibuster designed to prevent the 1964 Civil Rights Act from even coming to a vote. On June 10, 1964 20 Southern Democratic senators voted to continue the filibuster. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. was one of them, despite a personal plea from President Lyndon Johnson. The filibuster was finally defeated no thanks to Mr. Gore's father, who, once again embracing the segregationist wing of his party, proceeded to vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which passed nonetheless.

Mr. Gore never seems to explain this version of his father's record, which he continues to revise for his own political benefit. If the past is any guide, Mr. Gore will continue his exploitation of his family for his own political benefit tonight.

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