Former vice president Al Gore finished a two-year series of policy addresses yesterday by accusing President Bush of deliberately suppressing information about Iraq that would have undermined his case for war.
Gore said that he had previously resisted saying Bush intentionally deceived the public in the run-up to the invasion but that the evidence now shows "that in virtually every case the president chose to ignore -- and indeed often to suppress -- studies, reports, information, facts, that were directly contrary to the false impressions he was in the process of giving to the American people."
Echoing a campaign theme of Democratic nominee John F. Kerry, Gore told about 700 students and activists at Georgetown University that Bush is "arrogantly out of touch with reality."
"He refuses to ever admit mistakes, which means that so long as he is our president we are doomed to repeat his mistakes," Gore said, to applause. "It is beyond incompetence. It is recklessness that risks the safety and security of the American people."
The event was sponsored by the liberal MoveOnPAC. Gore said he had found "the answer to what some have regarded as a mystery: How could a team so skilled in politics be so fumbling and incompetent when it comes to policy?"
"The same insularity and zeal that makes him effective at smash-mouth politics, makes him terrible at governing," Gore said, in front of a dozen U.S. flags, calling the Bush administration "a rarity in American history: It is simultaneously dishonest and incompetent."
Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Gore "seems intent on shattering whatever minuscule credibility he has left with baseless, mean-spirited personal attacks and conspiracy theories."
Gore, 56, decided in December 2002 against seeking a rematch with the man he beat by 500,000 votes in 2000 but to whom he lost the electoral-college count. His address reflected the continuing anger among Democrats who have vowed to turn out in large numbers on Nov. 2 to avenge what they consider an illegitimate result in the last presidential election.
Rebutting what he said are misconceptions among Bush opponents, Gore said he believes the president "is plenty smart."
"While I have no doubt that his religious belief is genuine . . . ," Gore said, "most of the president's frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible." Gore said Bush "takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals, and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority."
Gore added that "the simplicity of many of his pronouncements, which are often misinterpreted as evidence that he has penetrated to the core of a complex issue, are in fact exactly the opposite, because they usually mark his refusal to even consider complexity."