RIP Philo

Al Gore: Poor speaker

I write a lot of stuff for public consumption. And when I write, I'm always of two minds - "what am I trying to say?" and "how could this possibly be taken wrong?" While I still trip over my feet a lot on the latter, I do catch a lot of close calls.

I see one recurring theme in the "Al Gore misquoted" controversies - the guy has a talent for saying things in a way they will probably (not possibly) be misunderstood.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/032207I.shtml

There are two things at play - first is that once someone is painted with a persona, then a lot of what they say will be read in light of that persona. I'm well aware that anything I type will be viewed through alternating lenses of "Microsoft shill" and "Republican apologist" and often have to try to write over top of that (or often just don't bother).

Secondly is that at some level you have to look at what he's saying and say "dude, if people keep misquoting you, maybe it's the way you're saying it." Personally, I think Al Gore has either consciously or subconsciously chosen to speak in a way that if you examine his words, he is technically correct, but when rememberd, there is hopefully a tendency to remember them in a grander light. The "I took the initiative in creating the internet" was probably a hopeful attempt to link Al Gore with the wildly successful business phenomenon, pleasing conservatives and liberals alike. The Love Canal quote was meant to cast Al Gore as a Superfund Superman. Love Story - Al & Tipper = American Sweethearts.

Unfortunately, it backfired. The grand image was remembered, unfortunately Icarus flew too close to the sun and it was misremembered as too grandiose. Instead of associating his campaign with those images, memories slipped over the line from nuance to causation and he was remembered as saying he was responsible.

I think the biggest evidence of this is that any time any of these quotes is debated it becomes a semantic tussle worthy of the Second Amendment. Should it really be so difficult to convince another person what the speaker was trying to say?

More importantly, and raising this as a new issue - should someone whose speech yields so many ambiguities really be a Chief Executive?
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 24th, 2007 8:42pm
>More importantly, and raising this as a new issue - should
>someone whose speech yields so many ambiguities really be
>a Chief Executive?

The "invented the Internet" is PURE Republican spin. The GOP spin machine is *exceptionally* good at misquoting Democrats to making them out to be something between Satan and a child molestor and pounding upon those quotes for all eternity. This is actually one of the few loathsome traits in US politics which DOESN'T cross party lines.

By raising this question you are acknowledging just how pathetically dependent upon image the American electorate has become.
Permalink Colm 
March 24th, 2007 9:18pm
" should someone whose speech yields so many ambiguities really be a Chief Executive?"

are you shitting me?  compared to someone like bush you mean?  seriously, the idea that gores tendency to be totally taken out of context and misquoted is somehow worse than bushs tendency to outright lie, his habit of invading other peoples countries, his total disregard of (and apparent contempt for) the constitution and his inability to separate his religious beliefs from his actual work and his total incompetence is just insane.

I dont like gore particularly, he is kind of slimy.  I _do_ like his global warming message and I _do_ like the fact he is, as far as I can tell, at least minimally competence.

I would take him over bush without hesitation.  hell, I would take nixon over bush without hesitation.  in all honesty Im hard put to think of someone I _wouldn't_ take over bush without hesitation.  even colm here is unlikely to actually do any worse.

electing bush was an absolute tragedy for this country, there is no way gore's ability to force the press to misquote him at every opportunity could possibly have made things turn out any worse.
Permalink Send private email zestyZucchini 
March 24th, 2007 9:35pm
>are you shitting me?  compared to someone like bush you mean?

Uh... I do not believe that Philo is comparing Gore to Bush, no. There is quite obviously no contest.
Permalink Colm 
March 24th, 2007 9:37pm
"The "invented the Internet" is PURE Republican spin."

Bullshit. The "pure republican spin" is pure liberal defensiveness. The actual quote:

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

You really are trying to say you don't see how the average person would read that as "Al Gore said he created the internet"?

You don't think Ford took the initiative in creating the assembly line? Or that FDR took the initiative in creating Social Security? Or that Steve Jobs took the initiative in creating the iPod?
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 24th, 2007 9:44pm
+1 Colm.

Just because Bush is a complete idiot doesn't mean I can't set my standards higher for a Chief Executive.

For all the complaints about the California Governor's Race in 2003 - there was no shortage of candidates to pick and choose from, unlike our stupid Coke/Pepsi Presidential races. :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_California_recall
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 24th, 2007 9:47pm
>"The "invented the Internet" is PURE Republican spin."
>
>Bullshit. The "pure republican spin" is pure liberal
>defensiveness. The actual quote:

Actually, the phrase "invented the internet" first appeared in a Republican press release. That's one of those cases where reality sides with "liberal defensiveness". After that it got picked up by Wired, and then the Republicans took the quote and fucking ran as hard as they could.

Were it not for them, the quote would today be entirely forgotten.

>"During my service in the United States Congress, I took
>the initiative in creating the Internet."
>
>You really are trying to say you don't see how the
>average person would read that as "Al Gore said he
>created the internet"?

The average person's perception (and I'm counting you amongst them) is shaped by powers which affect the public discourse through the media. In this case it was shaped to make the average person believe that Al Gore said he invented the Internet.

>You don't think Ford took the initiative in creating the
>assembly line? Or that FDR took the initiative in
>creating Social Security? Or that Steve Jobs took the
>initiative in creating the iPod?

Little known secret: Al Gore WAS instrumental in the creation of the Internet (as we know it today). It didn't just grow organically from inside a cold war bunker in 1960 into a huge international phenomenon, it only took off in the mid 90s, probably in part due to Gore's bill.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Performance_Computing_and_Communication_Act_of_1991
Permalink Colm 
March 24th, 2007 10:07pm
And as for that last bit - it's interesting to note just how little that bill is discussed in the media.

Semantics over substance every time and arguments over petty shit. American public discourse is essentially just CoT, only on a larger scale. THAT'S the fucking problem - not which insipid figurehead you want to have as your semi-king.
Permalink Colm 
March 24th, 2007 10:15pm
"Just because Bush is a complete idiot doesn't mean I can't set my standards higher for a Chief Executive. "

fair enough. how about doing it by looking at things that actually matter?  surely whether or not gore has an ego problem is WAY less important to his ability to do a good job than, say, whether or not he is competent?

the lesson from the bush presidency is simple:  look at the person, not at the press statements.

bush has said a _heap_ of things I agree with.  its simply somewhat unfortunate that he either entirely didn't mean them, or completely failed to implement them.

gore has said a _heap_ of things I agree with, so if I vote for him based on that...what have I learnt?

I need to look at gore.  look at what he has done.  if people had done that for bush, he wouldn't be there now.  even at the first election he was clearly not the man for the job..the only thing that made him appear that way despite his background was the press releases and an insane tribal loyalty to a party instead of to the good of the country.

bush was, to reuse a forgotten phrase, a false prophet.

gore might be, but examining how often he has been misquoted is not the way to find that out.
Permalink Send private email zestyZucchini 
March 24th, 2007 10:22pm
"Little known secret: Al Gore WAS instrumental in the creation of the Internet (as we know it today)."

Ah, I should've left my original reply intact, in which I pointed that out.

On the Gore quote thing, I'm trying to make two points:

1) What Al Gore said can be reasonably interpreted as how it is represented, spin or no spin. However, it seems that whenever the quote comes up, liberals need to yell "Republican spin machine!!!" Seriously - have you ever thought of simply saying "yeah, he could've said that better"? Seriously, think about it - even reading EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID it's hard not to smile and say "Hey Al, you're overreaching a bit there, aren't you?" But no - the instant partisan reaction is to totally deny what the person is saying and whine that the fine Mr. Gore made no such mistake.
Gore defenders seem absolutely incapable of yielding one millimeter on this issue - that he is horribly misquoted (no, not really); and when backed into a corner on that then it's "hey, he really did do a lot for it" (yes, he did. He still did not invent/create/generate/give rise to "the internet". Neither did Tim Berners-Lee, who's got more of a right to the claim than Gore, but would be the first to correct you if you tried)

2) My point was that Al Gore seems to have a way of speaking that lends itself to misinterpretation. At some point you do have to note that where there's smoke, there's fire. If so many of his quotes are misrepresentable and/or "subject to debate as to what he really was trying to say", there may be an issue with the way he speaks. (Our current President does not have this problem - when he speaks it's generally clear he's an idiot)
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 24th, 2007 10:50pm
"bush was, to reuse a forgotten phrase, a false prophet.

gore might be, but examining how often he has been misquoted is not the way to find that out."

A very good point.
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 24th, 2007 10:51pm
I don't see it as a being misquoted issue. I think that is a spin that Gore's support team came up with.

"I took the initiative in creating the internet."

That statement is a lie. Al Gore is a liar. Plain and simple. No misquotes needed.
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 24th, 2007 11:30pm
I agree with Philo's points above. Colm is the one trying to spin things. Philo didn't say anything at all about 'invent the internet'. But everytime Philo quotes exactly what Al Gore said, Colm tries to spread BS by saying "That is Republican lies! Gore never said he quote invented the internet unquote!" Yeah, no shit Colm. Gore never said he quote invented the internet unquote. He said he took the initiative in creating it.

Likewise, the crapola leftist spin on Obama's elementary school. Obama says in his latest book he went to a "muslim school" in Indonesia. Someone brought this up in an article. Someone else retold what they read in the article as "Obama went to a Madrassa". So then it becomes "Obama never said he went to a Madrassa". True. He went to a muslim school. Madrassa is arabic for school. When people think 'madrassa' they think 'muslim school'. There's no big deal here - where Obama went to school and what they teach there are known, verifiable facts. But the extreme leftists want to try and spin this story into 'lies spread by republicans'. There are no lies here. There is only extreme leftist spin, bullshit through and through.
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 24th, 2007 11:41pm
> Should it really be so difficult to convince another
> person what the speaker was trying to say?

Who is having a difficulty? The republican attack dog and the republican ass sniffer. What a surprise. If they weren't always trying to destroy him I doubt there we be any difficulty at all.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 24th, 2007 11:52pm
"Who is having a difficulty?"

People who can address issues without partisan bias.
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 25th, 2007 12:02am
This isn't an "issue". Issues have meaning.
Permalink Colm 
March 25th, 2007 12:05am
> People who can address issues without partisan bias.

When you say people keep misinterpreting Gore, who would those people be exactly?
Permalink son of parnas 
March 25th, 2007 12:15am
In case anybody's interested, here's what Gore actually did:

http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200009/msg00052.html

Just kidding.

I know you'd actually all rather argue over the seven word phrase uttered late one night over CNN - that's the REAL issue here, because gosh... well, the GOP said so in the press release that kicked this whole thing off:

http://web.archive.org/web/20010531124315/http://www.politechbot.com/p-00285.html

I'm going to stop quoting sources and verifiable facts now in case somebody accuses me of having a liberal bias (i.e. Practical Economist).
Permalink Colm 
March 25th, 2007 12:21am
Well, there's Declan:
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,18390,00.html
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,18655,00.html

Before you try to cast aspersions on him, he's a brilliant guy and generally libertarian.

Here's an interesting description of why the rabid backlash:
http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/col/rose/2000/10/05/gore_internet/index.html?pn=2

There's an interesting comment here:
http://www.igs.berkeley.edu/research_programs/ppt/papers/Gore412.pdf

"we show that
people more often quoted Gore as saying he “invented” the internet than what he actually said (i.e., he “took the initiative in creating” the internet). Of course, these two quotes may have almost the same meaning. To show otherwise, we report a study of English-speaking university
students (unfamiliar with the Gore- internet events) from France, Singapore, and Hong Kong. This study suggests that the more common incorrect quote is substantially more likely to lead someone to believe that Gore lied."

Okay, so if a group of linguists (of unknown bias) have to undertake a study involving people who haven't heard of the incident to evaluate the semantic difference, then I'm simply saying it was a poor choice of words on Gore's part.

And what is so absolutely horrifying about saying "hey, maybe Gore could've said it better"?

Finally, let me point out an interesting juxtaposition:
1) "Gore didn't say he invented the internet, that's an absurd misrepresentation of what he actually said."
2) "Anyway, Gore did effectively invent the internet as we know it today. So there."

If Gore defenders (including Vint Cerf) are walking around saying "hey, in a way Gore *did* invent the internet as we know it today!" Then what's so wrong about saying *Gore* said it?
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 25th, 2007 12:41am
It saddens me that you devoted that level of brainpower and wasted that amount of time to those seven words and all but ignored the deeds. For fuck's sake Philo, get some perspective.

>And what is so absolutely horrifying about saying "hey,
>maybe Gore could've said it better"?

Obviously something pretty fucking horrifying since you figured that maybe he shouldn't be president because of it.
Permalink Colm 
March 25th, 2007 12:53am
Exactly. Gore invented the internet as we know it, so where is the problem?
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 25th, 2007 12:57am
You make a convincing argument, Practical Economist.

By which I mean, please, please, PLEASE get yourself sterilized for the sake of humanity.
Permalink Colm 
March 25th, 2007 1:04am
>>> Obviously something pretty fucking horrifying since you figured that maybe he shouldn't be president because of i

What's really strange about Philo putting so much thought into this, is that he has lingering doubts about Clinton, but Clinton is arguably the master of the type of speaking Philo's saying is important for a president.
Permalink Send private email Ward 
March 25th, 2007 1:43am
Philo must not be very familiar with Bush's speechification or his nasty habit of contradicterating himself left and right.
Permalink Send private email Studly Studlerson 
March 25th, 2007 5:34am
Ward, you're absolutely right that Clinton was an outstanding speaker. As time goes on and we learn more about his administration, my admiration for him grows.

My only "lingering doubts" are that he lied under oath (well, that's not a doubt. It's a fact). I will grant that hindsight is 20/20, but he lied under oath. Had he not lied under oath, he would not have been impeached.

Having said that, it's interesting that Clinton's impeachment is likely to go down in history as less of a bump in his political career than Johnson's was (even though Johnson was most definitely railroaded)

"For fuck's sake Philo, get some perspective. "

My perspective on this issue is that you and sop (and others) are such incredibly mindlessly rabid defenders of the man. You will rail on "stupid red staters" who "blindly follow Bush" yet you can't even let yourself admit Gore may have spoken poorly - it's a Republican partisan smear job.

I'm done here - you've proven my point, though you'll never accept it. It's a shame you'll never have to wear the "blind Democrat" mantle as I have to wear the "blind Republican" one many CoT'ers have hung on me for daring to voice an opinion.
Permalink Send private email Philo 
March 25th, 2007 10:57am
> Finally, let me point out an interesting juxtaposition:

You made a general statement about gore's inability to communicate,and thus is supposed inability to be president. Then you champion one example where the other side has clear  political motives in their interpretation. Your case in unconvincing.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 25th, 2007 11:09am
> My perspective on this issue is that you and sop (and others) are such incredibly mindlessly rabid defenders of the man.

Yah, how horrible. I defend a man from people bent on looking for any flaw they can to take him down. I even did that for Bush for a while, until he proved to me goodness was not in his heart.

I believe Gore's heart is good. He may suck as a candidate. I may not want to have an appletini with him after work. And as in independent I am not in his tribe, but that doesn't mean I will sit back watching people toss stones without saying anything. If that makes me mindless and rabid, I'll just consider the source.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 25th, 2007 12:58pm
>My perspective on this issue is that you and sop (and others) are such incredibly mindlessly rabid defenders of the man.

You didn't realize this before? Or were you just testing to validate that it was as serious as it appeared to be?

Both of them have such an opaque set of blinders on about Al Gore that they can't possibly concede any possible fault in the man. They're just as bad as the idiots that answer surveys that they're still enamored with Mr. Bush, just because they think he's their only defense against something much worse.
Permalink DF 
March 25th, 2007 2:56pm
>I defend a man from people bent on looking for any flaw they can to take him down.

So you defend him by declaring all of his intentions pure and his actions ideal?

Give me a break. He's another rich white guy trying to ooze his way into power, whatever it takes. I've had my fill of people (much like you) declaring the man a hero (god, it makes me vomit a little in the back of my throat even hearing that. People anointing someone a saint just because they think he's their only hope).
Permalink DF 
March 25th, 2007 2:59pm
>Both of them have such an opaque set of blinders on about
>Al Gore that they can't possibly concede any possible fault
>in the man.

Get the fuck over yourself, Dennis Forbes.
Permalink Colm 
March 25th, 2007 3:10pm
>Get the fuck over yourself, Dennis Forbes.

Uh, good retort. Makes a lot of sense.
Permalink DF 
March 25th, 2007 3:14pm
>  it makes me vomit a little in the back of my throat

As long as you are depending on facts or reasoning to come your conclusions.....
Permalink abu-al-hamma-el-ribbi-roobi-ruu 
March 25th, 2007 6:08pm
>As long as you are depending on facts or reasoning to come your conclusions.....

My feeling about Al Gore The Modern Day Prophet is founded entirely on facts. It isn't simply embracing the most visible alternative to the status quo and then creating an absurd, completely untrue mythology around them.

He is far from a terrible man, and is certainly a world better than many alternatives, but to hold him up as a, gag, hero (despite the fact that his great Earth Saving approach has been talk, while doing nothing himself. Oh, wait, he invests in his -own- profitable green company, rising in wealth and power with the influence of his own message -- some would call that a conflict of interest, but whatever -- and that's good enough for some people), or to white wash the reality about Al Gore just because he isn't as demonic as Cheney and Bush...well is that really the better way forward?

No, it sounds like the same backwards ignorance, just by the opposing camp.
Permalink DF 
March 25th, 2007 8:06pm
"(despite the fact that his great Earth Saving approach has been talk, while doing nothing himself....Oh, wait, he invests in his -own- profitable green company,"

I can't parse this.

Are you making the claim that he doesn't buy offsets from native energy, but instead makes green investments and claims that as his contribution?

http://www.nativeenergy.com/individuals.html
Permalink abu abu abu aboooo rumi remmiro 
March 25th, 2007 9:07pm
Gore buys his carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management, a company which he founded.
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 25th, 2007 9:37pm
They are not what any other people consider to be carbon offsets by the way, but it's a unique definition by Al Gore - he buys stocks in 'green' companies and calls them carbon offsets, because presumably his investments help these companies continue to do business. Unlike normal carbon offsets, Gore continues to own something, and can sell it when he pleases, which is usually after he has promoted its sector and driven the stock price up.

You can look at his filing with the SEC if you like to see exactly what 'green' companies we are talking about:

http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1375534/000117266107000053/gen4q06.txt

Staples, General Electric and AutoDesk. The shares Gore bought of those companies are 'carbon offsets'.
Permalink Douglas Carriger 
March 25th, 2007 10:22pm
> So you defend him by declaring all of his intentions
> pure and his actions ideal?'

It's the DF model of humanity: sinner or saint.

> Give me a break.

You should be afraid I'll give you the same break you give everyone else.

> declaring the man a hero

More DFian ethics. Saying someone has some good points making them a hero.

> (god, it makes me vomit a little in the back of
> my throat even hearing that.

I am glad I could give you the same pleasure you give me.

> People anointing someone a saint just because they think he's their only hope).

That makes you R2D2.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 25th, 2007 11:23pm
>It's the DF model of humanity: sinner or saint.

I can appreciate why you might want to misread my message so terribly.
Permalink DF 
March 25th, 2007 11:47pm
> I can appreciate why you might want to misread my message so terribly.

I am sure you can appreciate the motivation completely.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 25th, 2007 11:57pm

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