Rocket Man has said everything important that needs to be said about Gore’s speech, including Gore’s obliviousness to any consideration but politics in saying what he said. But I find the political calculation here unfathomable. First, as Rocket Man has noted, the Democrats lose ground so long as Iraq remains the focus of public discussion. Second, Gore made himself a viable national candidate by voting in favor of the 1991 war resolution for which the first President Bush had asked. Third, whatever Gore’s speech means, what he says is wrong. Fourth, the current problem of Saddam Hussein is as much a legacy of President Clinton’s frivolousness as it is the first President Bush’s misjudgment. Fifth, the distinction between the war on terrorism and the war against Saddam Hussein is nonexistent. Saddam Hussein and the mullahs of Iran are the foremost state sponsors of terrorism, and Saddam Hussein has never ceased waging his war against the United States through terrorist instrumentalities. Sixth, as a matter of pure political calculation, wouldn’t it be wiser for Gore to remain silent or respectfully supportive of President Bush? Isn’t his speech stupid politically as well as substantively? Maybe the politics involved here are purely intraparty, but I still don’t understand them.
As to the connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism, I note coincidentally in tomorrow’s Ha’aretz an amazing story, “Shin Bet arrests three suspects who trained in Iraq.” According to the story, the three suspects are members of the Palestine Liberation Front who trained in Iraq with terrorist mastermind Abu al-Abbas. Abu al-Abbas has been hiding out in Bagdhad in Saddam Hussein’s sheltering arms. Alththough the story does not mention it, it should be noted that when last seen in 1985, Abu al-Abbas and the PLF had hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship and thrown an American citizen, Leon Klinghoffer, overboard in his wheelchair into the Mediterranean. After trial in absentia, Abbas was convicted of the crime in an Italian court. That he remains at large in Baghdad says virtually everything that needs to be said on this particular subject, and is a disgrace.
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