- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

In a final act of desperation, the vice president is reaching for the metaphysics. The message? Gore is Good. "I am taught that deep within us we have the capacity for good and evil," the vice president intoned at a prayer breakfast for a largely black congregation in Memphis over the weekend. "I am taught that good overcomes evil if we choose that outcome. I feel it coming. I feel a message here that on Tuesday we will prevail." In other words, "we" (as in he) will prevail if "we" (as in the largely black congregations among whom he spent the weekend church-hopping) choose that outcome i.e., the triumph of Al Gore over George W. Bush.

Far be it for anyone to root against good finally getting the upper hand against evil, but the quadrennial presidential race in the land of the free and the brave is hardly the appropriate venue. That is, if Al Gore is supposed to be goodness incarnate, then that leaves Mr. Bush, not to mention his millions of supporters, wearing the big black hat. Frankly, this isn't respectable speechifying; it is unrespectable demagoguery. No wonder Mr. Bush's campaign called Mr. Gore's sermonizing "beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse." Meanwhile, even Mr. Gore's fellow Democrats were slightly discomfited by the candidate's Manichaean maunderings, with Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley agreeing on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Mr. Gore might have been exaggerating a wee bit, and Democratic National Chairman Ed Rendell conceding on "Fox News Sunday" that this was the kind of rhetoric "that stretches the envelop a little bit." The fact is, the implication that Mr. Bush, freely and fairly chosen by millions of American primary voters, is "evil," plumbs news depths for irresponsible and divisive rhetoric.

At least it did until Mr. Gore's next campaign stop. At Pittsburgh's Wesley Center A.M.E. Zion Church, the vice president became, in the words of the New York Times report, "unusually strident" in attacking Mr. Bush by raising the specter not only of racism, but of a return to a condition of slavery. "When my opponent, Governor Bush, says that he will appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court," preached Mr. Gore, "I often think of the strictly constructionist meaning that was applied when the Constitution was written, how some people were considered three-fifths of a human being." In other words, vote for Al Gore, or civil rights are history. Garble aside (there was, after all, no "strictly constructionist meaning" to be applied or even discerned as the Constitution was being written), Mr. Gore is leveling a charge at Mr. Bush that is so outrageous it becomes ridiculous; namely, that Mr. Bush would seek out and find a bench full of vacuum-packed, mint-condition 18th century jurists.

Meanwhile, the vice president seems to have forgotten a few little things even the strictest constructionist would never overlook namely, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which, of course, abolished slavery, not to mention the 14th and 15th Amendments, which endowed all citizens with equality under the law and voting rights. But what else may be expected from the man who, as vice president-elect, walked into Monticello, scanned a display of busts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison and asked, "Who are these people?"

But Mr. Gore isn't concerned with historical facts. He's interested in his political future. Having failed to propel himself to the lead in the presidential race with the issues, Mr. Gore decided to frighten Americans, in this particular case, minority Americans, into supporting him. It looks as if Mr. Bush was right when he said that all Mr. Gore had to offer was fear itself.

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