I know it’s futile to dwell in the land of what-might-have-been. But these days we just can’t help it.
If only they’d counted all the votes in Florida in 2000. . . . If only we lived in a country where the person who got the most votes won the election. . . . If only the Supreme Court still respected states’ rights. . . . If only the man who deserves to be president were in the Oval Office, how much different — how much better — things would be.
I can well remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach the morning of Septemebr 11, 2001. Yes, sick at the horrible news, some of the most horrible thus far in my lifetime, but horrible news is bound to happen, and most folks supposed that terrorists would strike dramatically some day. The added sickness in the pit of my stomach was that we were having to face such horrible events with the least legitimate administration since Hayes, and one led by a very shallow man. Like virtually everyone in my party, I kept that premonition to myself and tried to support an administration I distrusted. In return for that patriotic support I was insulted and belittled by the Republican machine which viewed this horrible event, not as an opportunity to unite the nation and the world, but as a chance to marginalize the opposition and advance itself politically. History continued to turn out worse, afterwards, than I had feared on September 11.
How different history might be if a stateman like Al Gore had been in the office he was elected to. We would have had a shot a prevention. At least there would not have been total inaction on terrorism as there was under Bush. In the aftermath of an attack Gore would have reached out to the other party and to other nations for support and cooperation. He would have recognised the real enemy and focused our response. He might not have been as warm and fuzzy as a Clinton or a Reagan, but he would have been measured, intelligent, open to advice from all sides, cooperative with the opposition and with the rest of the free world, and decisive. When he made mistakes, as surely he would, he would have owned up to them much more readily than Bush, and adjusted his tactics and strategy when necessary.
I will really be torn in 2008 if both John Edwards and Al Gore run for president. Gore would make a potentially great president but he is not a magnificent television-age candidate. Edwards has the comfort 'in his own skin' that I attribute to some of the great politicians like Clinton and Reagan but hasn't the long record of statesmanship that Gore has.