Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Saving Private Reason... Brother Public Not So Lucky


"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." - Charles De Gaulle

"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." - Douglas Adams

It is becoming more and more apparent that a person can do more good for their country by remaining free from political office and staying out of Washington.

This axiom has never been truer than in the case of former Vice-President, Al Gore. As of this moment like a jaded lover unwilling to forgive us for not fighting enough for him in 2000, he has given no indication that he will trust us again to run now or ever. He remains, so far, more than a little aloof toward submitting himself to the political boxing ring, even when, at this late stage in the 2008 primary, his name is considered in many straw polls alongside the Democratic front-runners as a serious contender.

Having said all this, it is clear he has by no means left the problems of this country, alone in the hands of the politicians chosen in his stead.

In his new book, "The Assault on Reason", it becomes clear why he has not re-entered the political arena through his party affiliation. This book could not have been written by a political candidate swayed by the wants and whims of partisan politics. It remains, through Gore's lack of commitment to campaigning, above all of that.

Although the villain in this book is unquestionably President Bush and the policies which have held this country in the grip of ignorance for nearly seven years. Al Gore himself has not taken the role of the Democrat hero posturing for a run to the white house. Rather, he is simply and eloquently commenting on the problem and offering up his solutions which his years of experience offers. This is a book, which will one day take its place on the philosophy section of your local library, and Mr. Gore appears to have wanted to keep it that way.

This tone of the writing makes one think of the political theorists who hammered out the first ideals of our newborn nation in their various publications of their own. One is reminded of Thomas Paine or even Thomas Jefferson as one reads the pages of Gore's latest work. Where one might have felt that his last book, "An Inconvenient Truth", might have perhaps been a bit too focused on a popular audience and therefore lost its academic strength, this book remains a strong intellectual work.

One passage which perhaps best sums up some of the language and the focus of the book comes early on in Chapter 2 titled "Blinding the Faithful"; When you boil down precisely what went wrong with the Bush Iraq policy, it's fairly simple. He waged the politics of blind faith. He used a counterfeit combination of misdirected vengeance and misguided dogma to dominate the national discussion, bypass reason, silence dissent, and intimidate those who questioned his logic both inside and outside the administration.

He adopted an ideologically driven view of Iraq that was tragically at odds with reality. Everything that has gone wrong since has been in one way or another the result of the spectacular clash between the bundle of misconceptions that were gullibly consumed before the war and the all too painful reality that our troops and contractors and diplomats and taxpayers have encountered since it began.
When that painful reality began to displace illusion in the public mind, the president made increasingly strenuous efforts to silence the messengers of truth and create his own version of reality. His seeming contempt for the rule of reason and his early successes in persuading people to believe in his dogma-driven view of the world apparently tempted him to the hubristic and deeply dangerous illusion that reality itself, has become a commodity that can be created sold with clever propaganda and public relation skills (60).

Some of the Chapter highlights include: "The Assault on the Individual" in which the description of the freedoms that have been taken from us in the last six years lists like a laundry of abuses which rivals Jefferson's rather famous declaration in its thoroughness; "National Insecurity" where it is shown how Iraq was "marketed" to us as linked to terror during the peak season of our fear and anger following the crisis of 9/11; "Democracy in the Balance" which indicates that our civic union might never have faced a crisis of this magnitude as yet; and finally the "The Rebirth of Democracy" which functions as the obligatory prescriptive conclusion.

Now before this article turns into the type of in-depth analysis of the political philosophy of this text usually reserved for the likes of college professors, let's just say that Al Gore has written a book very worthy of reading. Both for students of politics as well as anyone else scratching there collective heads and looking around wondering where their country has gone in the last seven-odd years and why everyone seems to be sitting quietly in a basket.

This was most certainly the intention of Al Gore and two hundred years from now, though he may not necessarily be remembered as a president, perhaps that might be for the best. This book may end up being by then that proverbial last laugh, and describe to history, as well as the present day, what has happened to America in the first decade of the 21st century.

About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Saving Private Reason... Brother Public Not So Lucky

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By D. E. Carson on June 17, 2007 at 01:07 pm
To some degree, I do agree here. There are things that have been done in the last 7 years that have not been the brightest moves. The problem I have with Gore's take on the Iraq war is that he, like all liberal Democrats in Washington, can't seem to get past the fact that arguing over whether or not we should even be in Iraq is now purely academic. The fact is that we are there and what needs to happen now is liberals and conservatives need to stop the stupid kindergarten playground game of "he started it" and play an adult game of "let's fix this mess." Once that happens, then you will see Bush relax more. He's stubborn and he's sure of himself. Which also means that by trying to strong-arm him into doing something is going to make him dig in his heels even deeper. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don't understand this. They're spoiled brats, who demand that everything go their way whether they are right or not. Both sides are led by people with the constitutions of Missouri Mules and it is going to take nothing less than a proverbial whack in the head with a 2" X 4" to shut them up. It seems that Charles and I have some common ground here. Common sense has been thrown out the window in favor of political ambition. The old adage that power corupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely is playing out in Washington right now. That Al Gore isn't vieing for another run to the White House may show that he has come to realize the truth of that proverb. Based on the three paragraphs, I probably won't read the book, however. What bit of An Inconvenient Truth I did read I was able to find respected climatologists who could handily disprove what was there. Not wanting to have to check ALL those assertions, I returned the book to the library. Within the three paragraphs of Gore's new book, I found inaccuracies and know where to find rebuttal material. I commend you for your review.
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By Charles Harmison on June 17, 2007 at 01:32 pm
Boy, when you said peace Carson you really meant it. I am glad you and I at least can be big enough to put our differences behind us. Thank you for the nice words.
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By Kay C on June 17, 2007 at 01:56 pm
Thanks Charles!!
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By Charles Harmison on June 17, 2007 at 02:16 pm
All right thats it El, you can attack me and Gore all you want, but you crossed the line when you attacked the Knight. Kit is on his way.
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By Kay C on June 17, 2007 at 07:23 pm
Although I would love him to be president, I have a feeling he may have outgrown the tomfoolery of politics.
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By Jen on June 18, 2007 at 04:25 pm
Nice review of the book, Charles. Despite feeling like my intellect had been raped after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" I will probably pick this one up. He probably knows a lot more about public policy/politics than he does about science...or how to make a documentary. I think the scariest thing about the last seven years is the attempt to shut down discourse. Simply pointing out that those “yellow-cake” documents were found to be a forgery years before we paraded them around the UN as justification for invading Iraq was enough to get you labeled, at the very least, a supporter of terrorism. The whole idea that dissention could be likened to terrorist activities is a dip into dangerous waters. Thomas Paine may have been talking about the king of England here, but all we need do is simply replace “George the Third” with “George W. Bush”… “He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defense of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.”
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By D. E. Carson on June 18, 2007 at 09:39 pm
But it was those "yellow-cake" crock-uments that were used to bring down I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. I'm still trying to figure that one out...
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