Gore's loose lips

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2000

The following editorial was published in Tuesday's USA Today:

What's the harm in a little hyperbole? Al Gore is quickly finding out. The vice president's looseness on details, whether talking drug prices, oil supplies or lullabies, threatens to make him his own worst enemy.

The Bush campaign seized the opportunity to feed its central campaign theme: that Gore, like President Clinton, can't be trusted. Earlier Gore assertions about creating the Internet and inspiring the 1970 romantic novel Love Story supported the story line.

With polls showing that Republicans trail Democrats in public confidence for dealing with many top issues, the idea is to make a generic argument for change by tying the vice president to an outgoing president renowned for his skill at dissembling and who lied about an affair with an intern. But it's not quite that simple.

Gore now says his off-key paean to the "union label" was an attempt at a joke before a friendly audience. A review of the videotape gives plausibility to that explanation. ... And Gore was in fact a member of a House energy subcommittee when the oil reserve, created symbolically in 1975 without any money, was finally funded for the first time. ...

Hyperbole in politics is nothing new... but Gore should be on notice. The sure way to stop the attacks on his credibility is to resist the temptation to engage in campaign shorthand or hyperbole and even deadpan humor.

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