Gore's Grace Note

Politics and policy.
Dec. 13 2000 10:11 PM

Gore's Grace Note

As predicted earlier today, Gore faced the trade-off between grace and honesty by yielding to the demands of graciousness. Indeed, his concession surprised me with the degree to which it sought courtesy at the expense of candor about what has actually been happening during the past 35 days.


The graciousness came in Gore's unqualified expressions of support for the winner. He said he had called George W. Bush to congratulate him and offered to meet with him to help "heal the divisions of the campaign." Quoting Stephen Douglas, the man Abraham Lincoln beat in 1860, Gore said, "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism." He expressed the hope that God would bless Bush's "stewardship of this country." He said he would "put aside" any feelings of rancor and accept the outcome. He urged his supporters to do the same. "Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of this election might hamper the next president in the conduct of his office," Gore said. "I do not believe it need be so."

Gore smiled through his entire statement and made extensive use of his talent for self-deprecating humor, perhaps because it is his only real rhetorical skill and perhaps because it was a way to avoid placing blame on his opponent. He acknowledged that he blew it in his home state of Tennessee and said that when he called Bush to concede tonight, he promised that this time, he wouldn't call back. He ended with a wisecrack: "And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it is time for me to go."

The lack of candor came in Gore's failure to say anything at all to indicate that he continues to believe he really won the election or that George W. Bush played foul in taking the prize away from him. Gore's only note of complaint was when he said that he "strongly disagreed," with the Supreme Court's decision, but he quickly added that he would accept it. When he wanted to say something to indicate that he was holding fast to his principles, Gore used lofty phraseology not quite in keeping with the colloquial tone of the rest of the speech. "While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs," he said, "there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party." At one point, he did allow that he was "disappointed."

Is it ungracious of me to discern something false in Gore's upbeat tone and presentation? He seemed to me like a man who smiles to keep from crying. Of course, it wouldn't be appropriate for Gore to curse the gods or hurl imprecations at the victor. But by entirely burying the emotions he must be feeling--anger, outrage, and the sense that he was the victim of massive injustice--I think Gore failed the test of sincerity.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

How the First Benghazi Committee Hearing Humbled the Hillary Clinton State Department

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM Where Pregnant Women Aren't Allowed to Work After 36 Weeks  
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 18 2014 8:53 AM The Other Huxtable Effect Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?