Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2000]
I thought it important to share the following letter from former
In 1991, the Gulf War vote was very serious business. I can't think of anyone who didn't have a lump in his or her throat while weighing the situation: 500,000 Americans troops already deployed; Saddam Hussein promising the "mother of all battles"; most "experts" predicting heavy American losses.
The choice was not an easy one. Senators with combat experience on both sides of the aisle were on both sides of the issue. Some Democrats openly supported the measure; some Republicans openly opposed it. And vice versa.
The seriousness of the situation called for open, honest debate. No deal-making. No cajoling. No politics. Just an honest discussion, followed by an honest vote of conscience by each senator.
I worked with the Republican leader, Bob Dole, and the Democratic leaders, George Mitchell and Sam Nunn, to schedule the debate. As Republicans, Bob and I were responsible for scheduling time to speak for senators who supported the war. As Democrats, George and Sam were responsible for scheduling time to speak for those who opposed the war.
The night before this monumental debate, I sat in the Republican cloakroom with
Would America stand up to tyranny and aggression in the Middle East? This was not some issue to be taken lightly. As Bob and I discussed the debate schedule for the next day, a senator walked into our cloakroom and asked to speak to us. The senator's appearance and request surprised Bob and me. It surprised us because the senator was a Democrat, coming to ask for a favor. Who was that man? It was Tennessee
Sen. Gore got right to the point: "How much time will you give me if I support the president?" In layman's terms, Gore was asking how much debate time we would be willing to give him to speak on the floor if he voted with us.
"How much time will the Democrats give you?" Sen. Dole asked in response. "Seven minutes," came the droning response. "I'll give you
Gore seemed pleased, but made no final commitment, promising only to think it over.
After Sen. Gore left, Sen. Dole asked Howard Greene, the Republican Senate secretary, to call Gore's office and promise that he would try to schedule Gore's
Later that night, Sen. Gore called Greene and asked if
The following day, Gore arrived on the Senate floor with, I always thought, two speeches in hand. Gore was still waiting to see which side - Republicans or Democrats - would offer him the most and the best speaking time.
Sen. Dole immediately asked the Senate to increase the amount of speaking time for bothsides. I believe only then, after Gore realized we were asking for more time to make room for him on our side, that he finally decided to support the resolution authorizing the use of force to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
It brings me no joy to recount the events leading up to the Gulf War vote in January, 1991. Writing this letter isn't something I wanted to do, but instead something I have to do. I was there and witnessed Al Gore putting politics over principle.
The Gore campaign is now running an ad proclaiming that Gore "broke with his own party to support the Gulf War." In reality, it's much closer to the truth to say he broke for the cameras to support the Gulf War!
As a member of the United States Senate for 18 years, I've seen many senators show their stuff when times got tough, and sadly, I saw some who failed to rise to the occasion.
I have to set the record straight because the Gulf war vote was far too important an issue to fall victim to politics and repulsive revisionism. It was a moment of challenge, that Al Gore was not up to.
Origins: Former Senators Alan Simpson and Bob Dole have been charging since 1992 that then-Senator Al Gore broke with his party (one of only ten Democrats to do so) and voted for a resolution supporting the Gulf War in 1991 because siding with the Republicans gave him more publicity. Gore, of course, has maintained that his vote was an "example of his independence of mind and principled approach to governing" and the claims of Simpson and Dole are politically-motivated fabrications, so the issue essentially boils down to a "He said, he said" argument about which side one finds more credible.
Is there any evidence that comes from someone other than the three principals involved? Sure, but it too is contradictory. The Boston Globe reported that others remembered hearing second-hand of Gore's maneuvering at the time:
Zelnick's sources in the Senate, whom he would not reveal, shot down the "shopping" story and told him that Gore acted out of principle, not expediency, in the Persian Gulf debate. With just a few hours to go, Zelnick said, Gore was still consulting with Martin Peretz, a friend who publishes The New Republic magazine, and then-Representative Steve Solarz of New York, about the wisdom of war in the gulf.
In the end, Zelnick writes in his book that Gore's vote "deserves to be recognized as an act of conscience and moral courage."
And Bill Turque, a Newsweek reporter whose forthcoming book on Gore contains embarrassing material about the candidate's use of marijuana, said he thought Simpson and Sununu were engaged in "a bunch of election season spin." Turque said he "found nothing" to substantiate Simpson's allegation and agreed with Zelnick that Gore's vote on the Gulf War was "probably the most courageous vote he ever cast."
The Boston Globe took a similar tack in their article:
"How much time did you get from the other side?" Dole asked.
"Seven minutes," Gore replied.
"I'll give you 15 minutes," Dole said, and Simpson then offered Gore an additional five minutes of his time.
"Let me think about it," Gore said.
From that brief conversation, recounted this week by Simpson, he and Dole drew the conclusion that Gore was looking to trade his vote for a prime speaking opportunity.
Last updated: 30 November 2007
Balz, Dan. "Accusations Fly of False Advertising." The Washington Post. 6 February 2000 (p. A7). Black, Eric. "Awash in Party E-Mail Attacks." [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune. 14 September 2000 (p. A22). Cooper, Michael. "After Debate, Cheney Shifts to the Attack." The New York Times. 7 October 2000 (p. A10). Farrell, John Aloysius. "Simpson Says Gore 'Shopped' Gulf Vote." The Boston Globe. 5 February 2000 (p. A11). Mehren, Elizabeth and T. Christian Miller. "Campaigns Make Personal Attacks." Los Angeles Times. 5 February 2000 (p. A13). Turque, Bill. Inventing Al Gore. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN 0-395-88323-7. Walsh, Edward. "Cheney Rips Gore's 'Problem' with Credibility." The Washington Post. 7 October 2000 (p. A14). Zelnick, Bob. Gore: A Political Life. Washington, DC: Regenery Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-89526-326-2. Denver Rocky Mountain News. "Letters." 10 September 2000 (p. B8). Denver Rocky Mountain News. "Letters." 19 September 2000 (p. A47). The Detroit News. "Letters." 15 September 2000 (p. 16).