Enter Stage Right hands out its awards...

The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted September 30, 2002

On September 23 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Al Gore delivered what may have been his most important speech since serving as Vice President. For some time after the Election 2000 debacle, Gore had maintained a mostly studied silence about the Bush administration and its policies. That changed last Monday when Gore laid out his position on Iraq.

Al GoreGore's speech was actually meant to do two things. Along with his version of an answer on Iraq, Gore wanted to show that he was still a viable candidate for the presidency in 2004. Political friends and foes both agreed that Gore failed remarkably on both counts. Whether it was The New Republic declaring his speech a symbol of "bitterness" or Washington Post columnist Mike Kelly dismissing it as "hollow", Gore's speech may have finished off any future political career he was hoping for.

The problem with Gore's speech, as any number of commentators from both the left and the right pointed out this past week, was its absolute lack of new ideas. An attack on the Bush administration, Gore's speech was essentially an exercise in insult and revisionism, an attempt to deny the administration's successes to date while simultaneously attempting to divert it from its agenda. One of its more remarkable statements came early when Gore stated the "vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold-blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized." As much as a deliberate distortion of reality as you can get.

"The inmates at Guantanamo Bay, and the hunted survivors of Tora Bora, and the terrorist cell members arrested nearly every week, and the thousands of incarcerated or fugitive Taliban, might disagree as to whether they have been located, apprehended, punished or neutralized," replied Kelly.

From there it was all downhill. Gore accused Bush of pushing the United States towards war for political gain and because Saddam Hussein's dictatorship was an easy target. The former Vice President even had the audacity to accuse Bush of failing the leadership test for asking Congress and the United Nations for permission to attack despite the fact that it was the Democrats who demanded it.

We could parse the speech all day but it's an exercise performed by others already. We'll simply honour Gore with our valuable Earth is Flat Award, something that few people on other side of the political divide would argue.

U.S. Congressmen James McDermott (D-WA), David Bonior (D-MI) speak after arriving in Baghdad Friday, September 27, 2002Perhaps even more disgraceful was a live interview conducted on ABC's This Week. Congressmen Jim McDermott, D-Wash, and David Bonoir, D-Mich made the trip to Baghdad to denounce George W. Bush as essentially less trustworthy than Saddam Hussein, a statement that shocked even George Stephanopolous.

When asked about the ten years of lies that Hussein had told instead of fulfilling his obligations as mandated by international consensus and law, Bonoir responded, "We could go back and play the blame game. I wish you would focus on what’s happened to the people of Iraq -- the children."

Later on in the program George Will described the comments made by the two men as, "The most disgraceful appearance in my lifetime."

Normally a rational person would dismiss that comment as an exaggeration but in this case ESR has to agree. When actress Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam during the Vietnam War to show her support for Communism she represented herself as a citizen, which whether one agreed with her or not, was her right. McDermott and Bonior represent not only their constituents in Congress, they are also representative of America. If this is the leadership that the Democratic Party can provide, perhaps this magazine was right last week when it asked whether the left had suffered a total collapse after September 11, 2001.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted October 14, 2002

Let it never be said that we at Enter Stage Right cannot be surprised. It's also a lesson to us all never to prejudge a person. The person in this case is talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

On October 9, Oprah performed a public service by devoting one a program to the issue of a potential war in Iraq. To that end, she invited Kenneth M. Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm to make a case for a war. Not surprisingly, most of the audience was opposed to or predisposed to be against another war with Saddam Hussein. There were people like the German woman who immigrated to the United States three decades ago telling her fellow audience members that the world looked the other way while the Nazis committed horrors and another guest -- a survivor of the Hussein regime -- gave firsthand information including interesting tidbits that Iraq is the only government in the world who has rapists on its payroll -- Hussein pays to have dissident women raped -- but for the most part the mood was anti-war.

It became interesting, however, when several members openly opposed the war. One woman stated that the United States had problems with Hussein during George. H.W. Bush's administration, none under Bill Clinton, and then more with Dubya, to which Oprah responded, "So you think it's a Bush thing? Don't you think that the problems were there with Clinton, he just looked the other way?"

Another woman declared that the Bush administration was simply feeding Americans propaganda about Hussein. That earned a slight pause from Oprah and then a dismissive "Well, you're entitled to your opinion."

As the show progressed, it became clear that Oprah was in favour of forcing a resolution to the problem of Iraq even if it involved military force, shocking when you remember that she's known more for the sentimental nature of her program then hard-line positions on foreign affairs. I doubt she'll be voting for Bush in 2004 but we welcome Oprah as a member of the honorable liberals. We may disagree with her on many issues but we'll always respect her for her sincerity of belief.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? E-mail ESR with your candidates!



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