June 5th, 2006

Regime Change Begins at Home

The Other Historical Events of What Would Have Been the Gore Administration

Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Since the CIA had already long since totally dropped the ball on the Pakistani and Indian nuclear weapons programs, there wouldn't have been a single thing that Gore could have done. Would he have imposed sanctions on both India and Pakistan for having snuck around the non-proliferation treaties, as US law requires? Or would he have done what Bush has done, namely waived those penalties, invoking the "national security" clause of those laws? Since we woudln't have needed Pakistan as an "ally" so badly, he might have -- but I doubt it. A hard core "free trader" like Gore probably wouldn't have wanted to get into a sanctions tiff with India, and would have waived the penalties against Pakistan rather than pour gasoline on that conflict by only imposing sanctions on one side. Gore might have made a difference on North Korea, but honest people can honestly disagree about this. He almost certainly would have continued the two-party talks and almost certainly would have given Kim Jong Il yet more concessions to bribe him out of developing nukes, same as Clinton, the elder Bush, Reagan, Carter, and if memory serves even Ford and Nixon. Would Kim have cheated and developed the bomb anyway? We'll never know. Bush thought he would, and I'm not sure he was wrong. Which leaves ...

Iraq: Gore would almost certainly have taken the CIA's word and the UN's word that the Iraqi nuclear weapons program was no more. But that still would have left him in the awkward position that we were in in January of 2001 with regards to Iraq. Iraq was in no way in compliance with the terms of the Gulf War cease fire. None of the rest of our Gulf War partners were willing to go back to war over that; most of them were, in fact, rather blatantly disregarding those terms and trading with Iraq themselves. The US had basically three choices: declare peace and let Saddam go back to business as usual, declare a cease fire violation (or manufacture a sufficiently scary-looking one) and go to war without our former partners, or try to continue the sanctions and the no-fly zones. Bush believed that that last option was untenable, and manufactured a pretext for war, which I flatly do not believe that Gore would have done, and this is now at or near the top of the list of reasons I wish he'd won. But by now the pressure to withdraw the troops that were enforcing the no-fly zones and commit them to the Afghan War (see yesterday) would have been immense, and the cheating on the sanctions by France and the UK and Russia blatant and out of control, so the smart thing and the honest thing to have done would have been to declare the Gulf War coalition dissolved and give up on sanctions, with some indignant speech to the rest of the world about how if Saddam does this again, or worse, it'll be their fault for making the US withdraw sanctions. But no, I can't see Gore having either the political courage or the good sense to do that; I'm pretty sure that he would have still been trying to keep up the sanctions, even with the US economy in the toilet, the US military bogged down occupying Afghanistan in huge numbers, and all our allies openly defying us.

Judges: Here's the real reason I campaigned for Gore despite his close affiliation with the Democrats for the Leisure Class -- he wouldn't have packed the Supreme Court or the rest of the federal courts with religious conservatives. We as a nation are going to really regret the Bush presidency over that, some day, because I truly believe that future generations will look at what I predict will be the Roberts Court's tendency to endorse theocratic dictatorship with the same disgust that the Taney court arouses on the subject of slavery, and because if the Roberts Court overturns Roe and Griswold, it may well put the US on a downward spiral towards another civil war.

Katrina: Hurricane Katrina was still going to slam into the Gulf Coast. The President is not some kind of departmental god of nature who can make the rains come and go. But under Gore, things would have been very different for one important reason: James Lee Witt instead of Michael Brown. Before James Lee Witt, FEMA was a dumping ground for political hacks. After James Lee Witt, FEMA went back to being a dumping ground for political hacks. But during the Clinton administration, FEMA's first truly professional manager of disaster preparedness turned that agency into a model for the rest of the world, a thing of beauty to behold -- and Gore wouldn't have fired him. I truly believe that James Lee Witt would have found a way, given 60 hours notice, to get everybody out of New Orleans that was willing to leave. The poor of New Orleans would not have been left behind to drown for the sin of not owning a car or of not being able to afford a tank of gasoline. So the crowd at the Superdome would have been 1/4th the size, and there wouldn't have been overflow to the convention center. And I flatly guarantee you that neither Gore nor Witt would have turned back the aid trucks, and left those people without drinking water or food or essential medical supplies for six days. As a result, Katrina would have been downgraded from a massive, irreparable and indefensible stain on America's conscience to merely an awful (and expensive) natural disaster on the order of Hurricane Andrew.

Am I missing anything?