Al Gore on Larry King Live (4/23/99)
Some folks have told me I'm crazy for being as blunt as am in some of these columns. Basically, I write them for two reasons: (1) I enjoy it, and (2) I think you have a right to know exactly what your elected officials believe. Nothing drives me as insane as listening to politicians on television or radio refusing to answer a question or being so vague you have no idea what the mean. Case in point: Vice President Al Gore on Larry King Live on April 21, 1999. With the topic at hand being the shootings in a Colorado high school, the following exchange took place.

KING: Mr. Vice President, Larry King Livewas this preventable in the sense that we knew they wore these weird outfits, they preached hate, they talked about violence, they stayed off to themselves, they were apparently complaints  made at times in the past? Was this preventable? This has the benefit of hindsight, of course.

[Stop. This is a very basic question. Based upon the facts in Colorado, could the shootings have been prevented? We know that Gore will not answer "yes" because he would implicitly be placing blame directly on an individual when the evidence to support such a charge is clearly lacking. The only possible answer is "no, we can't prevent such insanity in a free country" or, even better, "I have no idea since I don't know all of the facts"]

A. GORE: Well, it was very interesting to hear all the interviews with family  members out there and school officials out there who had watched the tragedies last year in Kentucky and Mississippi and elsewhere, and thought to themselves that in spite of what the families in both locations said, it couldn't happen in this site in Colorado.

[Stop. This seems to imply that the incident couldn't be prevented. I wish he would simply say it outright, but so far so good.]

And I think this may crossover the threshold of convincing everybody in our country that this can happen anywhere, and so the kind of prevention activities that in some places have made a difference should be instituted everywhere.

[Stop. What does this mean? On one hand "this" can happen anywhere but on the other hand there have been "prevention activities" that have "made a difference". Is he saying that there were not preventive measures in place in Colorado? What were they? Is he is saying such measures would actually have prevented the killings? I waited for an explanation.]

I also think, Larry, that we need to pay more attention to the problem of excessive violence in the media, because in times past it was common for people to say, well, you know, some kids are vulnerable, and if you plant the seeds of violence in most, it won't have an impact: But in some it does. And I think this should be a wake-up call on that issues as well.

[Stop. This is what drives me crazy. The question was whether the shooting was preventable. Now, Gore has switched the topic to violence in the media without even coming close to answering "yes", "no", or "I don't know".]

Admittedly, the answer to this particular question is not necessary for us to evaluate Gore's worthiness as a potential president. However, it is simply an example of the dodging and doublespeak that we, as the electorate, accept from those that represent us. Watch for it this weekend on any of the Sunday morning news shows. Inevitably, an answer will include the phrase "But what I think the real issue is . . . ."

Barry Green is the District Attorney for the 271st Judicial District.

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