The election of 2000 was the first presidential election since my family had immigrated to the United States. I was a senior in high school, and even though I was neither of age to vote nor yet a citizen, I watched that election with great zeal. I rooted for Vice President Gore, and thought George W. Bush would be a disaster. Since then, I have admired Al Gore as a passionate advocate, a persuasive educator, and at times, a statesman. Forgive me, however, if I have never seen Al Gore as a fighter.
The former VP, on his blog yesterday, lamented at President Obama for halting smog regulations by the EPA. Writes Gore:
President Obama appears to have bowed to pressure from polluters who did not want to bear the cost of implementing new restrictions on their harmful pollution [...]There are a lot of substantive rebuttals to this, including the fact that the President merely put the smog regulations back on their normal review schedule of every 5 years (they were last reviewed in 2008), but the environmental policy criticism on this one issue is one thing. But I am not prepared to hear from Al Gore about how President Obama "bowed to pressure." Not from Al Gore.
Am I the only one who remembers this scene from a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2001?
When members of the Congressional Black Caucus, one by one, stood up to challenge Florida's electoral votes, awarded to George Bush by an edict of the US Supreme Court, they could not find a single Senator to stand with them. Not one. Why not? Because Al Gore made sure that they couldn't.
"Four years ago, I didn't intervene. I was asked by (Democratic presidential candidate) Al Gore not to do so and I didn't do so. Frankly, looking back on it, I wish I had," [California Democratic Senator Barbara] Boxer said.Suddenly, private citizen Al Gore is quick to accuse the sitting Democratic president of giving up the fight on something that has merely be set back on a normal schedule rather than an accelerated one, but so long as he is going to take that stance, I think it fair to see what Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore did. Not only did he bow to right wing pressure on a questionable (if not outright stolen) election, he made sure that Democratic Senators bowed to the same pressure right along with him. May I ask the former Vice President if he thinks that decision to bow to political pressure on his part turned out to be inconsequential when it comes to the environment that we all care about?
So no, I'm not buying the "bowing to pressure" critic from the man who gave us the bowing to political pressure moment of the past decade. I'm not buying it because it is not a critic the former VP can make, with all due respect, without being hypocritical.
Gore might also have considered tempering his critic with the otherwise stellar record that the Obama administration has built on the environment, especially on transportation - a record of accomplishment that will invest heavily in mass transit, increase the number of electric vehicles in America by 45-fold in the next six years, nearly double gas mileage standards by 2025, and set the first-in-history gas mileage standards for commercial vehicles. If emission reduction is the goal, President Obama's transportation progressive record is far more critical than smog standard changes of 5 parts per billion. Al Gore hired a so-called "news" guy for $10 million a year; the least he can do is keep track of this news.
Why so quick to assign motives, anyway? One may disagree, but is it possible that President Obama saw the newly proposed smog rules right now helping less given these other things he has achieved to reduce carbon emissions? Is it possible that the president really does think it's better done in two years? Is it possible Barack Obama is calling business' and the Republicans' bluff - telling them, in essence, "okay, you say this regulation was stopping job creation, fine, I took it off. Now create the jobs."? In other words, isn't it possible for the president to make a decision that some progressives disagree with without it being attributed to some character flaw?
Al Gore is an advocate, and I will continue to respect his advocacy. I don't expect him to approve of the President on everything. But I do expect him to be fair and measured in his criticism, bringing balance to intellectual and constructive critics. And he should be the last person on earth to talk about 'bowing to pressure.'
Actually, I think the whole Left media would be better off if we were simply able to stop assigning motives when we don't like a given action of the President's. If you disagree on policy, fine. Say so. Say why. We can talk. But we do not need the Left, of all people, trying to come up with evil motives and weakness-of-character reasons to why the President made a decision he did. There is plenty of it from Rick Perry. We frankly don't need it from Al Gore as well.