September 5, 2000
Al Gore, Vice President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
In looking forward to viewing your debates with George Bush, I was delighted to learn that you have been attempting to cut back on your use of "motherese," which James Fallows, in the article below, explains is the manner of speaking that parents use to children, native speakers of a language to foreigners, and doctors to elderly patients, and which some find grating because it is condescending and patronizing.
On the other hand, I have been disappointed to learn that your effectiveness as a debater has come to depend almost entirely upon your throwing your opponent off balance with false accusations. In the case of Michael Dukakis, for example, you misrepresented him as not objecting to the establishment of a Soviet client state in Central America. Similarly, in the case of Bill Bradley, you misrepresented his health care plan as equivalent to expecting the poor to take care of their medical needs with a $150 voucher; and where Bradley took particular pride on his commitment to racial equality, you enraged him by taunting him with being something close to a racist. In summing up your debating record, James Fallows writes the following indictment:
|Gore is manifestly willing to lie for political convenience. Bill Turque, in his authoritative biography Inventing Al Gore (2000), and the reporters Walter V. Robinson and Michael Crowley, of The Boston Globe, have detailed Gore's habit of hanging on to claims that can easily be disproved. The Globe reporters wrote this past April, "Starting as a junior congressman and continuing through this year's primaries, Gore has regularly promoted himself, and skewered his opponents, with embroidered, misleading, and occasionally false statements to a degree that even some of his allies concede is rare for a politician of his stature." To take just one example of needless, small-scale distortion: during his first run for the presidency, in 1988, he said, "My wife and four children and I live on an active farm today outside of Carthage, Tennessee." At the time, the children were enrolled in schools near Washington, D.C.
James Fallows, An Acquired Taste: How Al Gore Learned to Love the Jugular, The Atlantic Monthly, July 2000, pp. 33-53, p. 53.