WASHINGTON Former Vice President Al Gore has accused President George W. Bush of using “the symbolism and body language of religion” to mask policies intended to satisfy the ideology of the right and the financial needs of wealthy campaign donors.
“The essential cruelty of Bush’s game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals, then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world,” Gore said in a speech on Monday at Georgetown University.
“President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much as possible to the already wealthy and privileged.”
Gore’s speech was sponsored by MoveOn.org, the political advocacy group, which has spent millions of dollars in an effort to defeat Bush. On Monday, Gore focused his attacks on the president in a more personal way than usual.
“I’m convinced that 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.
“It is ideology – and not his religious faith – that is the source of this troubling inflexibility. Most of the problems he has caused for this country stem not from his belief in God, but from his belief in the infallibility of the right-wing Republican ideology that exalts the interests of the wealthy and of large corporations over and above the interests of the American people.”
The Bush-Cheney campaign dismissed Gore’s remarks as little more than echoes of those of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidates.
“Al Gore’s remarkably pessimistic left-wing rant was part Michael Moore and part John Kerry,” said Brian Jones, a campaign spokesman.
“At its core, though, it exposed a pre-9/11 worldview that is certainly evident in John Kerry’s approach to governing and prosecuting the war on terror.”
Gore’s speech was also the first in the MoveOn series to include a reference to voting irregularities in Florida that delayed the final result of the 2000 election and, in the view of Democrats, cost Gore the election.
Asserting that efforts by political allies of Bush to suppress voting this year had reached “epidemic proportions,” Gore said, “Some of the scandals of Florida four years ago are being repeated in broad daylight even as we meet here today.”
As in previous appearances for MoveOn, Gore used his address more as policy review than campaign speech. Much of it constituted a soup-to-nuts condemnation of the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policy, hammering home the central point that Bush exercises “a willful refusal” to consider advice or points of view that differ from his own.
“He had, in effect, outsourced the truth,” Gore said. “Most disturbing of all, his contempt for the rule of reason and his early successes in persuading the nation that his ideologically based views accurately described the world have now tempted him to the hubristic and genuinely dangerous illusion that reality is, itself, a commodity that can be created with clever public relations and propaganda skills.”
Only at the end of his remarks did Gore urge audience members to support Kerry, calling him, unlike Bush, “a proud member of the reality-based community.”
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