- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

It has been a tough week for Vice President Al Gore. Not only was last week's presidential debate an unhappy turning point in Mr. Gore's fortunes, but even worse, he only had himself to thank for it.
Having led George W. Bush by 8 percentage points, 49-41, in the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Tracking Poll last week, Mr. Gore woke up yesterday morning only to learn that the same poll now puts him 8 percentage points behind Mr. Bush, 50-42. The issue of honesty and trustworthiness is particularly interesting. In the wake of the first debate in Boston, where Mr. Gore dissembled on matters ranging from school overcrowding to disaster relief, only 34 percent of likely voters consider Mr. Gore to be honest and trustworthy, compared to 48 percent who view Mr. Bush in those terms. Indeed, since the Democratic convention, a 3-point Gore advantage on the issue of honesty and trustworthiness has deteriorated into a 14-point deficit.
Why this is so is easy to understand. The vice president has proved himself to be a compulsive prevaricator. Not only does he seem incapable of telling the truth, whether in private interviews with the FBI or Justice Department campaign-finance investigators, or in the give-and-take of a televised debate before nearly 50 million viewers. But much of what he does say represents a flip-flop on positions previously held. It is a nasty combination that ought to give any voter pause before pulling the lever for Mr. Gore. With Mr. Gore, a voter must ask two important questions: First, is he telling the truth about the policies he proposes? Second, even in the unlikely event that he is, will he flip-flop after he is elected?
So which Mr. Gore will show up at tonight's presidential debate in Winston-Salem, N.C.? Will it be Albert the prevaricator? Or will it be flip-floppin' Al? In fact, it will be both. The lies and the flip-flops are merely two sides of the same coin. Indeed, Mr. Gore often lies about his flip-flops, denying that he changed his position even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Consider the evolution of Mr. Gore's position on abortion, the nation's most profound moral issue throughout his political life. During Mr. Gore's first nine years in Congress (1977-1985), his record on abortion votes was 80 percent pro-life. He consistently opposed federal funding for abortions, telling one constituent in a 1983 letter that abortion was "arguably the taking of a human life." With the 1988 presidential campaign looming, Mr. Gore did an about-face. Beginning in 1986 and ever since, his voting and public-policy record has been 100 percent pro-choice. Asked in 1992 by then-CBS correspondent Paula Zahn why he had changed his view on the issue of federal funding for abortion, Mr. Gore simply lied, "My position has never changed. I've always held the same position."
Viewers of tonight's debate, as well as all voters in November, would do well to consider the question posed to Mr. Gore in the Jan. 27 New Hampshire debate by former Sen. Bill Bradley, whose health care proposals were severely distorted by Mr. Gore during the Democratic primaries this year: "Why should we believe you will tell the truth as president," Mr. Bradley asked Mr. Gore, "if you don't tell the truth as a candidate?"

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide