Wednesday, September 6, 2000 Volume XXV, No. 25
Roswell, New Mexico
In this issue...
Gore in Vietnam
by David W. Davis
The well-documented problem with Al Gore is that he simply cannot talk about himself without embellishing and exaggerating his own life story. Thus far, in the world according to Al, he has: invented the internet, discovered the Love Canal pollution cover-up, and been the real life subject on which the book and movie Love Story was based (i.e. he was played by Ryan O'Neill on the big screen). None of this is close to being true of course.
This pattern of misrepresentation is particularly evident in his
re-telling of his four-month tour in Vietnam. He told reporters
he: 1) was shot at; and 2) went on patrol through elephant grass,
carrying a rifle. Neither of these claims is true.
On national television at the Democrat Convention, the biographical video is shown that includes a combat scene from Vietnam, implying Al Gore had seen combat. This is fiction also.
Then both Al and Tipper paint his Vietnam service as even more noble because he went "to keep someone else from Carthage, Tennessee from having to go in his place." But wait! He only served there for four months. What is up with that? How do you get out of a one-year tour in just four months? How indeed, unless you're the son of a US Senator that is.
In Gore's case, he apparently scammed his way out by using his father's influence to apply and get accepted to the Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) School of Religion. With his Divinity School acceptance in hand, the Army discharged him several months early and sent him home from Vietnam where he promptly dropped out of Divinity School soon after.
Al Gore is in good company with this scam by the way. Clinton's former Deputy Secretary of Defense, John Hamre, apparently got religion and went to Divinity School until the draft ended, whereupon he was apparently called to study economics.
This was, however, a bipartisan scam. Don't forget David Stockman, Reagan's first budget guru. He also found Divinity School to be nothing short of, well, divine, as long as the Vietnam War was raging. When he suddenly found himself no longer subject to the draft, he too, became an economist. Just what the world needs, faith-based economists!
[Editor's note: Actually, we do. And Adam Smith is perhaps the
pre-eminent example, though I clearly sympathize with the writer's
wry skepticism concerning the whole gamut of Vietnam era draft-avoidance
But back to Al Gore. I believe it was Hendrik Hertzberg, current editor of the New Yorker, who once wrote that "no one with a low draft number during Vietnam has to ask what Dan Quayle was doing in the National Guard." Well, as someone who had a low draft number, I also don't have to ask what Al Gore was doing applying to Divinity School while serving as a rear echelon information specialist in Vietnam. He was simply trying to get out of Vietnam as soon as he could. He succeeded in doing so.
His Harvard education, of course, could have been put to good use leading men in the boonies, but that was before he wanted to "fight for us." (That was then, this is now?) Instead, Al Gore gamed the system to get out of his service obligation early. To do that he probably lied about his religious calling and his intentions on his application to Vanderbilt. Then, in order to get an early discharge, he almost certainly deceived his commanding officer about his intention to complete graduate studies at Divinity School.
More recently, he lied to the American people at the Convention when he said he volunteered for the draft because he "believed it was unfair for someone else to go in his place." Yeah, right. Tell that to the guy who replaced him in Vietnam. When Al Gore conned his way out of Vietnam several months early, rest assured some other unsuspecting soldier suddenly got orders, had to leave his family, and report to Vietnam to take Al's place.
Here, Al, are the plain unblemished facts: You did go to Vietnam---that was a good thing, but you were no hero, you were no leader, and you certainly faced little danger. In short, you did more than some, but less than many. And you did even less than you signed up for when you set about to scam your way out of Vietnam early-----leaving someone else to take your place.
Whenever I visit the Wall, I am reminded that avoidance of service in Vietnam was not a "victimless" crime. When I survey the thousands of names etched there, I cannot help but think that there would have been far fewer names on the wall if folks like Clinton, Gore, Bush, Cheney, Cohen,* and Lieberman, as well as a host of other "leaders" had actually led back then. *(Currently Secretary of Defense.)
The Army would not have had to commission the William Calley's of the world if the children of privilege had done their duty. I was originally willing to give Gore a partial pass based on the old "at-least-he-went-to-Vietnam" theory. That was until he presented his "docufiction" biography at the convention and lapsed into his old exaggeration mode. Only this time it was about military service---in many ways an attempt to steal valor---something others actually earned. He compounded his boast, remarkably, by claiming he served "to keep someone from going in his place."
But it didn't happen that way. He continues to make claims about his life that just aren't so. All the evidence suggests his old scams of the early 70s represent the beginning of an unbroken chain of life's reinventions---reinventions he believes will lead him all the way to the White House.
(David W. Davis is a Vietnam era veteran, with more than of 23 years of military service.)
Let's Talk Sense... commentary on Gore
Some of Al Gore's pronouncements on public policy positions are ominous, at least to me, in the Orwellian sense.
In George Orwell's 1984 it was important for the three warring totalitarian nations to constantly rewrite history. They never wanted the citizenry to believe the state could make, or would make any kind of mistake. This, it was believed, was a crucial element of subjugating the masses and maintaining everyone's loyalty. The state is all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful.
Therefore, as an example, when one nation would switch sides and become an ally of a former enemy against its former ally, the "Minister of Truth" would re-publish the official history books. They would then read that "Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania," even if they had been allies only a week before. This is a hallmark of totalitarian dedication to the deity of the state, and its all-encompassing infallibility.
Why can't Al Gore be like other human beings and simply change his mind? Why in his campaign against Bill Bradley did he choose to say that he has always supported abortion rights? Why does he make similar statements on his inconsistencies on his Social Security positions? On tobacco? Why say the things he says about having always done such and such, when there are print (and sometimes film) records which show him to be lying?
In the words of the famous Saturday Night Live "lawyer," Nathan Thurm, "is it me, or is it him?" It's him, isn't it?