A closer look at the Bush record -- from
the war in Iraq to the war on the environment
take the exit ramp off the Bush presidency in November?
Colin Powell's Legend
Colin Powell's sterling reputation in Washington hides his life-long role
as water-carrier for conservative ideologues.
Recounting the controversial presidential campaign
Is the national media a danger to democracy?
The Clinton Scandals
The story behind President Clinton's impeachment
Pinochet & Other Characters
The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics
Contra drug stories uncovered
How the American historical record has been tainted by lies and cover-ups
The October Surprise
The 1980 October Surprise scandal exposed
From free trade to the Kosovo crisis
Other Investigative Stories
several ads selected by Google.
A Gore-Zinni Unity Ticket?
April 10, 2006
Editor’s Note: As the line-up of presidential hopefuls for Election 2008
begins to take shape, one of its most notable features is how few top
prospects opposed the Iraq War from the start. Even fewer can claim both
the foresight to have perceived the war’s dangers and the broad
government experience to deal with other issues vital to America’s
favorites on the Republican side include Iraq War hawks – Sens. John
McCain, Bill Frist, George Allen and Sam Brownback, not to mention one
of the war’s architects, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The list
of top Democrats features Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Kerry and
former Sen. John Edwards, all of whom voted for George W. Bush’s
resolution to use force against Iraq.
Iraq War critics – Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel and Democratic Sen.
Russell Feingold – are mentioned as possible presidential candidates,
but neither is believed to have broad support within their respective
might the American people seek out as seasoned public servants who have
both the ability and the experience to pull together a national unity
campaign that would combine common sense, a commitment to democratic
principles and political courage? In a guest essay, longtime political
strategist Brent Budowsky offers his opinion:
judgment, the unity ticket with the strongest potential would have
former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, in the top spot, and retired
Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, a politically independent military man
who supported George W. Bush in 2000, in the second slot.
In 2002, when many elected leaders in both parties joined Bush in his
rush to war, Gore and Zinni had the clarity of vision and the political
courage to go against the grain and propose alternative strategies, such
as staying focused on fighting al-Qaeda, that would have better served
With more than 50 years of national security experience between them,
Gore and Zinni could be trusted in office to pursue strategies that
would unite Americans, resolve the war in Iraq, rally U.S. allies, and
wage an effective battle against global terrorism.
In part, that’s because
Gore and Zinni know from experience what President Bush and his
neoconservative allies have never learned: that the surest guarantee of
U.S. security is when military force is backed by the power of American
ideals and the unity of a well-informed citizenry.
Gore's experience in national security policy dates from his service in
Congress working on advanced weaponry and nuclear arms control during
the Reagan years and extends through his eight years as Vice President.
In those endeavors, he
demonstrated a commitment to bipartisanship, treating congressional
leaders of both parties with a respect that America has not seen from
President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
General Zinni is one of
America's most respected military leaders. Like most officers and
enlisted men and women, he knows that military power must always be
accompanied by creative diplomacy and must never become the
single-minded tool of ideologues or the polarizing weapon of
Amid the war hysteria that swept the United States in fall 2002, Zinni
faced down the disdain that Bush administration hawks displayed toward
critics, including military officers and longtime U.S. allies, who
warned against Bush’s Iraq War plans.
Having served as U.S. military commander for the Middle East and as
President Bush’s envoy on Middle East diplomacy, Zinni understood the
region’s history and culture. He stressed the importance of winning
hearts and minds as well as the danger of a poorly conceived military
On Oct. 10, 2002, responding to those eager for war, Zinni said, “I’m
not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one that I
travel in.” Warning that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney
were underestimating the difficulty of establishing a new government in
Iraq after an invasion, he said, “God
help us, if we think this transition will occur easily.”
Gore was equally prescient, warning in a speech on Sept. 23, 2002, “that
the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect
to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war
against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this
Gore added, “To put first things first,
I believe that we ought to be focusing our efforts first and foremost
against those who attacked us on Sept. 11. Great nations persevere and
then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another. We
should remain focused on the war against terrorism.”
Gore also has a record of
providing farsighted leadership on other major issues, such as
environmental dangers and global warming. He has long demonstrated one
of the most entrepreneurial minds in national politics on issues ranging
from financial markets and global economics to new technology and new
In addition, a Gore-Zinni ticket could promote a patriotic reform agenda
against the petty corruption that now infects one-party Washington. They
could present a red-white-and-blue vision of America that honors the
Bill of Rights, faithfully executes the laws of the land, and unites the
American people against the partisanship, extremism, intolerance,
division, polarization and cronyism that have become the hallmarks of
the Bush-Cheney era.
Imagine an American President and Vice President who believe that
America is a great national family; that America is a house with many
rooms in which we should all treat each other with patriotic respect,
where we honor our common commitments and shared purpose, not tear at
each other's throats.
Imagine a Commander in Chief who, like virtually all previous Commanders
in Chief, treats the Loyal Opposition with respect and takes into
account their opinions when crafting security policies that truly make
the nation safer, instead of treating opponents with the contempt shown
by the current administration toward those who warned against a rush to
an unwise war.
Imagine an American President and Vice President who would reject a
strategy of using war as a partisan weapon – and instead work to unite
the nation the way Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower did or to
inspire the freedom-loving people of the world the way John F. Kennedy
A Gore-Zinni ticket also could win politically – and possibly win big.
It would have the potential to rally the Democratic base, attract the
vast majority of political independents and appeal to many Republicans
alarmed at today's course of events in Washington.
A victory for Gore-Zinni would represent a national determination to end
the politics of personal destruction and partisan vendettas. It would
uplift Americans who are tired of the politics of anger, fear and
polarization and want leaders who work together with mutual respect.
administration could inaugurate a new era of American politics based on
patriotic reform and national unity.
There also would be new
respect and support for multilateral institutions, broad democratic
alliances and strengthened international agreements. America would no
longer be isolated in war nor viewed as an obstacle to international
efforts to address the grave danger of climate change.
Gore and Zinni could make the case to the world that Americans are not a
people of endless wars, culture wars, partisan wars and preemptive wars.
In their administration, there would be no place for torture memos and
theories about unlimited presidential powers more in line with King
George III than Jefferson, Washington and Madison.
administration’s respect for constitutional values could gain the
support of all Americans who treasure the Bill of Rights, bringing
together principled conservatives with principled liberals, indeed all
those offended by the Bush-Cheney administration’s concept of an
all-powerful President operating beyond the law, without checks and
A Gore-Zinni Administration also would promote a pro-American energy
policy that could stand the light of public scrutiny, not have to hide
in the shadows; would create new competition from new energy sources;
and would make sense for American consumers and businesses rather than
oil barons, futures speculators and Middle East royal families.
There would be a breath of fresh air in Washington, where the world’s
scientists could be mobilized against climate change, not censored or
silenced for stating facts that clash with the ruling political
At a time when Americans are telling pollsters that they are disgusted
with the corrupt ways of Washington, Gore and Zinni have been outside
the destructive political culture of the Bush-Cheney years.
Gore has been involved in Generation Investments, which appeals to
socially conscious investors; he has spoken out about the dangers of
climate change and is releasing a documentary film about global warming;
he has begun an initiative in cable television.
This five-year escape from the insider world of Washington led Gore to a
far more cogent analysis of the Iraq War than the vast majority of
Democrats operating in Washington. He also staked out a strong defense
of the Bill of Rights in the face of Bush's claims of unlimited
In short, a Gore-Zinni administration would stand for the politics of
bravery, not the politics of fear. It could usher in a new era of
patriotic reform similar to the eras of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and JFK in
which all Americans are treated as members of a great family based on
the very American idea that we are all in this together.
Brent Budowsky is a former legislative
assistant to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, and legislative director
to Rep. Bill Alexander, D-Ark., when he was chief deputy majority whip
in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached by e-mail at
to Home Page