Point/Counterpoint - Gore

by Randy Stebbins | 11/1/00 6:00am

Jan. 21, 2001. The White House: Under gray skies threatening rain, Al Gore was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States. He promised a return to a democratic America and the end of a government insensitive to the needs and desires of ordinary citizens.

Aug. 1, 2001. The White House: Today President Gore signed into law legislation providing money to cover prescription drug costs for pensioners receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits. The plan, proposed by Mr. Gore when he was a candidate for the Presidency, does not grant the extensive coverage that then-candidate Gore wanted, but it does reduce by 75 percent the out of pocket expenses paid by aging Americans for their medicine. The new law enables older citizens and those eligible for Medicare to get the drugs their doctors prescribe, avoiding the problem of older people foregoing needed drugs because of the financial burden imposed by their cost.

Nov. 20, 2001. The White House: Just days before Thanksgiving, President Gore put his signature on a bill that mandates and provides money for the hiring of 50,000 new teachers nationwide. The implementation of a major portion of Gore's education reform plan is set to begin almost immediately with the first of the new teachers expected in classrooms after the Christmas season. President Gore will soon request additional funding for 50,000 more elementary and secondary education teachers to be hired within the next two years, in addition to asking for a billion dollars in school construction and renovation money. A rider to the bill forbidding federal tuition vouchers for private schools was bitterly opposed by Republicans in both the House and Senate. Democratic lawmakers were able to attach the rider to the hugely popular education bill over the objections of hard-line Republicans, many of them still smarting over the overwhelming rejection of their presidential candidate at the polls last year. Also included in the new legislation was a provision making up $10,000 of college tuition tax deductible. Universities across the country hailed the tax credit as a visionary and long awaited response to rising tuition costs and a welcome relief to families desperate to fund their children's education.

Dec. 24, 2001. The White House: In a Christmas Eve address to the nation broadcast over National Public Radio, President Gore announced that he will introduce a major military rebuilding measure that he says, "will give the men and women of our armed forces the family support services, pay and first rate equipment they need to overcome their poor work and living environment." Substandard living conditions and the stress of continual deployments led to the exodus of thousands of service members from the ranks of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines over the last eight years. Mr. Gore declared a moratorium on base closures and a reevaluation of the military's role in overseas operations. The pay of enlisted personnel is expected to rise by 10 percent, the largest increase in enlisted compensation in the history of the armed forces. Officer pay was also addressed, with a planned increase of five percent over current pay rates.

Feb. 3, 2002. Berlin, Germany: Speaking from the steps of the redesigned Reichstag where he was attending a summit of the G8 nations, President Gore explained the deployment of nearly 75,000 American soldiers to the Republic of Korea. He said, "the deployment of American personnel is in response to increasingly frequent and violent forays across the Demilitarized Zone into South Korea. After three years of rapprochement with the isolated and militantly communistic North of Kim Jong Il, the South Korean government asked for our assistance when North Korean efforts to reunify the truncated peninsula grew alarmingly antagonistic." Reaffirming U.S. allegiance to South Korea, President Gore stated that "the Korean Peninsula remains a vital barrier to the last hard-line communist regime in the world, and the United States will honor its historic commitment to South Korea. Our country's belief in democracy and the right of people everywhere to decide their own fate will not be held hostage to the whims of a dictator." American forces are expected to land at Inchon, on the western coast of the troubled peninsula, within a few days, in an eerie reenactment of the landing of Marines there over 50 years ago.

Nov. 1, 2000. Dartmouth College: In response to the increasingly strident claims of Republican politicians, critical thinking was applied to the distinctions between the men competing to be the next President of the United States. Al Gore was tested in the crucible of the sixties and he did not succumb to its heat and pressure. He volunteered for enlisted service in Vietnam, choosing to answer his country's call and accept neither school or marriage deferments nor the National Guard and Reserve slots so eagerly sought and accepted by many of his contemporaries. More testing faced the young man from Tennessee when he returned from Vietnam disillusioned, along with thousands of fellow soldiers, about America and what it stood for. Divinity school and reporting on local government corruption fired his enthusiasm for change within the democratic system. His passion for America and the promise of democracy led him from the House of Representatives to the Senate and finally to the Vice Presidency. Almost 25 years of public service has prepared Al Gore for the leadership of his country. His political soul was formed in the turmoil of a nation searching for its own soul. He learned the ways of government and faced the challenges of economic recession, global energy crisis, the collapse of the Russian behemoth and the moral failure of his president. He is the only man able and passionate enough to lead America at the beginning of this new century.