Gore's conversation with Clinton: should Gore have resigned in '99?

Last week, the story came out that, after the election was settled, Gore and Clinton had a rather frank conversation about the 2000 election. Gore was upset at Clinton for having to be saddled with the baggage of his scandals, while Clinton was upset that Gore hadn’t run on Clinton’s accomplishments.

Given that much of the way Gore ran in 2000 was, in retrospect, clearly driven by his unhappiness with the various troubles Clinton had gotten himself into - especially his liaison with Monica Lewinsky - how should Gore have best handled this, if he wanted to be evaluated as his “own man,” as he said in his acceptance speech last August?

The more I think about it, if he was that uncomfortable with being associated with Clinton, he should have resigned as Vice President. If he had waited until after the end of the impeachment trial, no one could have faulted him for deserting Clinton in a pinch, but it would have registered his feelings on the matter, in no uncertain terms.

It would have had the advantage of firmly insulating him from the moral fallout from the Clinton administration (something Bush was able to obliquely use to great effect), but he would have been able to share credit for the administration’s accomplishments during its first six years.

OTOH, he would have lost the many practical advantages of being the sitting VP during his campaign - and whoever Clinton chose as veep for the final two years might’ve tried to run for President too.

Mostly, it seems to me that, by remaining as veep, Gore lost his moral right to blame Clinton for his problems. If it was that serious a deal to him, he knew where the door was.


Nah, it’s not that simple.

If he’d have quit then, the Bush campaign could have (and probably would have) accused him of doing so just for political gain. He’d also have been seen as abandoning his post.

Now, if he had quit when it became known that Clinton had lied to him (and others) about his Monica relationship, then he could have claimed moral high ground. He also would have almost certainly lost the primary, IMO, because he would have been seen as failing to stand by his man (so to speak).

This was a lose/lose situation for him. I think he is perfectly correct to lay at least some of the blame at Clinton’s feet.

Al Gore seems to lash out at anyone and anything which got in the way of his Presidential dream. Some of it, he had a point. This one, I’m not so sure about.

Yes, Clinton’s cockmeat did cause some problems. But doesn’t everyone remember that at the height of the controversy, the American population responded to the heinous acts of the Pres and the tactis the GOP were using to continue to wave this in the face of him, every other Dem and the country as a whole by… Voting Republican incumbants out of office two years ago in droves!!

Even a month ago as he left office, Clinton’s approval rating was higher than that of Reagan and every other president at the time they left office!

So, the problem with Gore here is that he shied away from Clinton, and he made the exact same mistake that the GOP made two years ago when they thought America gave a fuck. We obviously (for better or for wose) do not.

If Gore talks up the record and every shot we see on ads is a victorious Gore and Clinton standing with raised fists at some event, and Clinton actually is allowed to campaign, regardless of how many chads were hung, we have a President Gore today.

So while maybe Gore can be miffed that Clinton’s behavior gave him a reason to keep the President away from him (and vice versa), it’s not Clinton’s fault he didn’t learn from events just a couple years ago.

Yer pal,

David B wrote:

And, worst of all from a political standpoint, he would have dropped off of the National Radar Screen.

Voters have amazingly short memories. After Newt Gingrich resigned as Speaker of the House, he became a washed-up has-been almost overnight. Mention his name now, and people will, at most, say, “Oh yeah, wasn’t he a Congressman or something?”

Had Al Gore resigned his post as Vice President, his replacement would have assumed his place in the national spotlight, and the public’s response to hearing Al Gore’s name would have become “Al who?” faster than you can say “Spiro Agnew”.

The basic premise of resigning from VP because the P is a lying scumbag seems ridiculous to me. Should Gerald Ford have resigned when it became clear that Nixon was indeed a crook?

Remember, this is public service we’re talking about here. Gore was elected VP, and it seems reasonable for the voters to expect him to fulfill the duties of the office. Thus, I have no problem whatsoever with Gore for simultaneously serving and being pissed off at Clinton.

I think it was a fatal mistake for Gore to distance himself from Clinton. Clinton was a very popular President, despite his many flaws. Bush, Sr. became President solely because of Reagan’s popularity. History almost certainly have repeated itself had Gore not listened to his advisors and political adversaries who convinced him that Americans were fed up Clinton.

Americans were NOT fed up with Clinton. They liked him. The election should have been a no-brainer. Instead Gore made the mistake of over-thinking it and over-strategizing. I mean, I’m a registered Republican but I certainly wasn’t thrilled with my party’s nominee. I could have easily been swayed to change my vote.

What Gore forgot is that the Clinton haters despised Gore also. They were not going to vote for Gore- no matter what he did. On the other hand- sucking up a bit to the VAST majority who still loved Clinton- would have got him a few of those nader votes. And even a 1000 votes in Fla would have won Gore the elction. Gote lost becuase he did NOT “ride in on Clintons coattails”- the American voter DID want “another eight more years of Bill”.

Gore is too smart for his own good.

I think Gore had to distance himself from Clinton and I think he did a good job of it, starting with the selection of Lieberman (transparent as it was) as his running mate, along with the “I am my own man” speech. The problem is that Gore failed to make the distinction that the American people did; i.e., Bubba is a dirtbag, but my 401(k) is kicking butt and therefore I don’t care that he got what he was doing with Monica in the Oval Office. The problem wasn’t that people blamed Gore for Clinton’s misdeeds, but rather that he had made his own contributions to the gloss of slime that covers the Clinton administration and that by Election Day, unfairly, he was perceived as a near-pathological liar who probably couldn’t tell the truth if his life depended on it. I suspect that if he had asked Clinton to make a sweep through Arkansas the week before Election Day, Gore would have won Arkansas and rendered Florida moot. Instead, he refused to use Bubba and shot himself in the foot. I think the loss lies squarely on Gore’s shoulders.

So I think it’s pretty much agreed that, if he had resigned to distance himself from Clinton, Gore would have only scored points with people who wouldn’t have voted for him, anyway.

I certainly do agree that if he had tied himself to Clinton more closely, he most likely would have won the election. The problem, as I see it, was that he had this “near-obsession” with proving himself to be an “Alpha Male”, not realizing that it’s NOT a weakness to acknowledge the leaders that came before him.

This is why I don’t think he’d have a chance in '04, unless he manages to tie himself to a popular and successful political group. But if he can’t keep himself in the spotlight, he might as well start writing his memoirs right now.

Actually I think that people voted for him because of his faults. The more faults you have that arent related to doing your job the better.

As I read it, Gore’s problems with Clinton were something he felt deeply, rather than merely a strategic choice. Hence the question about resigning.

I don’t think Gore would have gotten much flak about abandoning his post, not standing by his man, failing to fulfill the duties of his office, or whatever - as long as he held off until after Clinton survived impeachment.

After all, the duties of the VP are: presiding over the Senate. Sometimes.

I strongly disagree with the claim that, once no longer VP, he would have dropped out of the public eye. Richard Nixon had no official position for eight years before being elected President; Ronald Reagan was in the same position for six years prior to his election. In many ways, having no office is an asset in running for President, not a liability - as long as your own party doesn’t already have a presumptive candidate lined up.

IMO, a lot of Gore’s ‘who am I’ problems of 1999 were a side effect of being veep, hence not being able to be his own man.

I agree with those who’ve said Gore could have still run on the positive economic accomplishments of the Clinton administration. He certainly should’ve. And he could’ve let Clinton campaign for him in some states where Clinton was likely to carry more weight than Gore - particularly Arkansas and West Virginia. As has been said, a win in either place, and Florida is irrelevant.

But I think that if Gore had had two years to openly define where he agreed with, and where he differed from, his old boss, he might’ve run a much stronger campaign, and would’ve been more insulated from the association with Clinton’s administration, including his own acts in support of it (e.g. the Buddhist temple).

I think he stands a chance of being a stronger candidate in 2004 than he was last year. (If I’m wrong, y’all can laugh at me then. :))

Gore made a calculated decision to distance himself from Clinton. It didn’t pay off, because of Gore’s tendency to tell lies himself during the campaign and debates. Then people got the feeling that he had learned a little too much during his eight years of carrying water for Clinton.

He has no chance in 2004. Hilary is going to be positioning herself, and she will cut his balls off and feed them to him in any manner possible to win. She just has to hope that the voters don’t hold it against her when she and Bill divorce. This should happen in the next year or so, to give the voters time to forget.

I don’t see any moral reason for Gore to have resigned. As someone mentioned earlier, Gore was elected to his position. The only reason I can think of for Gore resigning would be if he genuinely believed that Clinton should have been impeached. But it doesn’t seem like he felt this way.

I think Gore was between a rock and a hard place with regards to Clinton. I disagree with those who claim that Clinton was enormously popular. He had very high job approval ratings, but low ratings for personal qualities. Problem Gore had is that he seemed to share in (some of) these same personal qualities (fundraising, veracity etc.). The voter reaction described by Satan was more a reaction against Republican scandal mongering than a reaction in favor of Clinton. As long as Bush kept mention of Monicagate to a minimum, this would not help Gore. But the public was almost as sick of the Clintons as they were of the anti-Clintons. If Gore identified himself too closely with Clinton he risked getting saddled with the Clinton baggage. By contrast, if he distanced himself too much, he risked alienating the Democratic core of party faithful who were enthusiastically in support of Clinton.

I think the path Gore chose was the best one. He did not shy away from taking credit for the Clinton policies and accomplishments (such as they were). He merely disassociated himself from Clinton the person.

So I would disagree with both Clinton and Gore. I don’t think Clinton was a major factor in the election either way.

As for Gore’s chances in '04, it depends on what becomes the ultimate spin on why he lost. But that’s as far as the primaries go. He will likely have a harder time in the general election, barring a disastrous Bush administration or long-lasting recession. His major edge over Bush this time was in experience and in the perception that Bush is an intellectual lightweight. Both of these will have been dispelled by '04. Meanwhile Gore will still have the same personality.

This has become the conventional wisdom but IMHO it isn’t true. Congressional and Senate elections, even the 1998 elections, revolve around local issues and the candidates themselves. The Dems did not pick up seats simply because the voters were angry about the impeachment as a whole, although that’s the way they’ve been spinning it since then.

Also its a bit of an overstatement to say the Republican incumbents were driven out in droves in 1998. Their majority was reduced but they were still in the majority after the 1998 elections.


So you honestly believe that what people think about a party in general, in addition, how the higher-ups in a party are acting, don’t effect how they vote for their party as long as it’s only for a local position?

I’m sorry, but I find that naive and also quite in the minority as far as what the media says about what influenced voters. And polls of Americans at the time of these elections also showed that there was good reason voters were just saying no to Republican incumbants. It was definitely on their minds…

Of course, you can say that the voters were misguided for taking a matter at thre top of the GOP and having that mix up the local issues of the local dog catcher’s race, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

It did.

If you consider the time of the election (the last off-year voting during a lame duck president), never before under those circumstances had the other party not gained any seats, let alone lost them. That is why the media at the time declared it as they did.

Yer pal,

And they ought to.

The GOP successfully ‘nationalized’ the past two midterm elections - in 1994, with the ‘Contract on…er, for…America’, and in 1998, by turning the election into a referendum on Clinton/Lewinsky.

That is, they were successful in nationalizing both. They won a bunch of seats the first time, but not the second time. And as Satan says, the party in the White House had always lost ground in an election in the sixth year of the President’s incumbency. Until 1998.