Steve Benen has debunked the attacks on Al Gore,which started in the right wing blogosphere yesterday and spread (naturally) to Fox News. They use a clip from YouTube of Al Gore in 1992 to create a false appearance of inconsistency:
Yesterday, Hot Air, a leading far-right site, posted a YouTube clip from 1992 in which Al Gore blasted the Bush/Quayle team for its Iraq policy. The right was instantly giddy over the video because, as Hot Air perceived it, the clip proves that Gore is a “craven opportunist.” (via Too Sense)
The thesis of the Gore speech: Reagan-Bush had looked the other way and let Saddam Hussein become a terroristic [sic] menace and a WMD developer. They had ignored Saddam’s many operational ties to terrorists over the years so they could maintain relations with him and offset the threat from the mullahs in Iran.
That’s a relatively accurate description. Gore’s speech highlighted a wide variety of Saddam Hussein’s terrorist tendencies, and H.W. Bush’s response to each — which was always tolerance. No matter what Iraq did, and how much it promoted terrorism, and how often it would use chemical weapons, Bush 41 preferred to look the other way.
Gore’s point, in the context of the 1992 presidential campaign was clear — if H.W. Bush wants credit for the 1991 Gulf War, he ought to also accept responsibility for helping enable Saddam Hussein for the better part of a decade…
Gore was right in both instances — Bush 41 was wrong to repeatedly cooperate with and reach out to a brutal dictator, and Bush 43 was wrong to launch an unnecessary war under false pretenses and then bungle the conflict every step of the way. The right sees a contradiction here. There isn’t.
This is just more of the same. Since the war began, supporters of the war have pulled up any quotation from a Democrat criticizing Saddam to claim a contradiction. They repeat quotes from Bill Clinton criticizing Saddam, but ignore the fact that Clinton didn’t invade.
I’ve also seen a number of conservatives quote from John Kerry’s pre-war speech at Georgetown. They quote his criticism of Saddam but totally leave out the central message of the speech which was to oppose going to war.
This comes down to the black or white mentality seen among conservatives. Many cannot conceive of a position as complex as recognizing Saddam was an evil man but not supporting the war. That’s far too nuanced for them. To them, liberals who opposed the war must either like Saddam, be blind to the threats to the country, or hate America. The simpler explanation that we recognize the problems but also consider which actions are in our country’s best interest, is beyond them.