Too many aren't paying attention
by Richard Lessner
The Union Leader
May 21, 1999
|The bumper sticker on the car in front of me caught my eye: "If
you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Too many of us, I fear,
are not paying attention.
A little required reading is in order here. Permit me to recommend some fare that is certain to inform and perhaps even outrage.
Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, published this week, is a chilling expose of
Bill Clinton's systematic surrender of this nation's nuclear and non-nuclear weapons secrets to Russia and Communist China. Written by Bill Gertz, the Washington Times' crack defense and national security reporter, this book breaks new ground in the investigation of Bill Clinton's mismanagement and politicization of national security.
"President Clinton's most important legacy," writes Mr. Gertz, "will not be his serio-comedic sex scandals, but his deadly serious disarmament of the United States and his self-serving appeasement of powerful and determined enemies."
Mr. Gertz details how Mr. Clinton and his administration knowingly placed campaign contributions ahead of national security. Mr. Clinton repeatedly winked at Russian and ChiCom outrages in order to maintain the appearance that these two adversaries were actually America's friends and allies.
The book opens, for example, with a page-turner of a chapter that reads like a Tom Clancy thriller. Mr. Gertz details how the administration covered up a laser attack on a joint U.S.-Canadian helicopter mission monitoring a Russian spy ship in American waters, an attack that left two officers with permanently damaged eyesight.
Published by Regnery Press, this book has earned the hostility of the Justice Department, which is threatening the author with legal action, alleging he is in possession of top secret documents, some of which are reproduced in extended appendices. This is a frightening chronicle of betrayal backed up by salvo after salvo of fact.
Gore: A Political Life is the book that got author Bob Zelnick fired from ABC News. The respected Pentagon and national correspondent was ordered to stop working on a Gore biography. He refused and was sacked.
Mr. Zelnick's portrait of Albert Gore Jr., is not flattering. Mr. Gore comes across as a scheming opportunist who changes his views to meet the changing political needs of the moment. Mr. Gore was a pro-lifer before he began to court the feminist vote, and before he discovered the political utility of bashing big tobacco he boasted of how he grew the stuff.
A child of privilege and son of a senator, boy Gore grew up in a luxury hotel and attended the very best private schools. Summers were spent lollygagging on the family farm in Tennessee, where young Albert acquired his celebrated Everyman experience slopping hogs and plowing fields. This tendency to stretch the truth and exaggerate his importance is one of the Gore character flaws that Mr. Zelnick identifies.
Another character trait that emerges from the Zelnick biography is Mr. Gore's moral hubris. He regards those who disagree with him as not simply wrong, but evil. He really does. This comes across most vividly in his truly disturbing environmental extremism (of which more below). Mr. Gore believes himself to be on the side of the angels. You can pretty much guess where this leaves those of us who dissent from the Gore oddities.
Despite some savage or dismissive reviews by left-leaning critics, the Zelnick book is a solid, honest work, the benchmark against which suceeding Gore biographies will be measured.
Earth in the Balance , Al Gore claims, was written entirely by himself, which if true sets this book apart from most other political tomes that are churned out by ghost writers. That this book springs from the dark recesses of the Gore psyche makes it all the more frightening.
The Gore campaign is trying its best to suppress this book. In 1992, candidate Gore refused to appear at the vice presidential debate if Dan Quayle insisted on quoting directly from Earth in the Balance. But if one wishes to understand the Gore mindset, this book is essential if chilling reading.
Whole passages from Earth in the Balance cannot be distinguished from the mad ravings of the Unabomber's manifesto. Mr. Gore's environmental views are not just loopy, they are extreme and dangerous, not for their frivolous policy prescriptions, which are plain silly, but for the insights they provide into the Vice President's world-view.
Mr. Gore views our nation, our modern industrial society, as the environmental equivalent of Nazi Germany. On page after page he compares industrial society to the Holocaust and the destruction of the Jews. His view is apocalyptic.
"Today the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht," writes Mr. Gore, "is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin."
This is not just an instance of literary hyperbole. The book is infused with apocalyptic imagery. Mr. Gore regards our way of life as "dysfunctional" and "inauthentic." He repeatedly compares industrialized America to the totalitarian regimes of Hitler and Stalin. In our dysfunctional civilization we live in an evil, artificial world of mindless material consumption, cut off and isolated from the "authentic" world of nature and the natural.
The only hope for our dysfunctional society, Mr. Gore asserts, is wholesale change. Saving the environment must be the "central organizing principle" of everything we do -- every law, policy, program, treaty, industry and institution.
Ted Kaczynski would nod approvingly at such drivel. The Unabomber's and Al Gore's world-views are philosophically indistinguishable. The man who would be President believes the nation he would lead to be evil -- deeply, profoundly, irredeemably evil.
So there you have it: three books that, believe me, will outrage you.
After such a hard slog through the Clinton-Gore morass, the average reader may need a little emergency relief. I recommend Stephen Ambrose's inspiring Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West.
Mr. Ambrose, the celebrated chronicler of World War II, is the preeminent popular historian of our times. His account of the Lewis and Clark expedition of discovery is appropriately stirring and heroic. It is particularly refreshing to be reminded that there was a time, and there were men, who preferred death to dishonor.
The book takes its title from a passage Jefferson wrote describing Lewis, his friend and protege. It begins, "Of courage undaunted, possessing a firmness & perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert from its direction . . ."
Oh, but how we need leaders of courage undaunted.