Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let's Get Emotional: What Al Should Have Said to George

How's this for a knock-out punch Al Gore could have delivered in one of the 2000 debates:

"If someone is going to restore dignity to the Oval Office, it isn't a man who drank his way through three decades of his life and got investigated by his father's own Securities and Exchange Commission for swindling people out of their retirement savings." Or this: "Why don't you tell us how many times you got behind the wheel of a car with a few drinks under your belt, endangering your neighbors' kids? Where I come from, we call that a drunk."

Such slap-downs would have been effective because they would have appealed to voters' emotions, put Bush on the defensive, and countered the perception that Democrats are wusses. All of which, according to Drew Westen, whose book "The Political Brain" is reviewed in today's NYT, would be good for us (Democrats) and bad for them (Republicans).

Aside from the fact that Republican operatives have demonstrated time and again how incredibly ornery and low-down they can get when cornered (as John McCain and John Kerry know all too well), AND aside from the fact that Al Gore, having delivered those attacks, would then have to answer all kinds of inconvenient questions about his youthful, and apparent nonstop, dope-smoking, there's at least one other reason why verbal assaults of this kind are bad for us: They make us stupid. Further, they make us mean, and fixate us on barely relevant details that can sway us but not really inform us. And how terrible it would be if politics became even more debased than it already is.

I dislike many politicians, George Bush among them, but I don't need to see them destroyed by below-the-belt zingers delivered by overzealous opponents. If they're going to go down in flames, they're perfectly capable of striking the match all by themselves. Obviously, we're looking at a case in point.

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