In recent weeks, world events have pushed the presidential campaigns out of the immediate public spotlight. Violence has resurfaced in the Middle East, and democratic reform seems promising in Yugoslavia. Environmental and health concerns have prompted the call for a multi-national response. Fueled by technologies that know no political borders, the economies of nations have become ever more intertwined.
Taken as a whole, such global events underscore the increasingly important presence of the United States within the global community. But, as Nov. 7 draws near, they also highlight a host of challenges that will confront our next president. Without Congress as a buffer, the president must handle global issues at the most intimate of levels. Such interaction requires a brand of leadership that can both bridge nation-states and acquiesce heads-of-state.
It is the presence of this leadership quality that most distinguishes the Democratic candidate from his Republican rival. And for this reason, we urge our peers to cast their vote for Al Gore '69.
When it comes to government experience and knowledge, Vice President Gore is, hands-down, the more qualified candidate. He has been in Washington since 1977 and spent a combined 16 years in the House and Senate before his two terms with the Clinton Administration. Through his "Reinventing Government" program, he was intimately involved with the functioning of all aspects of the executive branch. Texas Gov. George W. Bush, by contrast, is currently in the second term of his first elected office.
Bush has attempted to paint his distance from Washington as a sign that he will inject a fresh perspective into tired old bureaucracies. He has also indicated he will surround himself with top-notch advisers, one of which includes his running-mate, former Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney. But presidential leadership, more than anything else, must reside within the individual. During the debates, it became painfully clear that Bush lacked a minimal level of familiarity on many international issues. Consequently, the Texas governor seemed to confuse foreign affairs with military affairs.
Gore, on other hand, used his years in Congress to become an expert on a broad range of international issues. In 1989 he was intimately involved in bipartisan legislation to stop ballistic missile proliferation. In 1991 he broke with party members to support the Gulf War. But although Gore has proposed a more active military engagement in world affairs, he understands that a successful foreign policy must also include more intimate and subtle forms of diplomacy and negotiation.
Granted, leadership is more than just a lengthy resume or savvy know-how. And many are quick to point out that Bush possesses a great deal of "personal charm." But we warn voters that there is a distinct difference between "charm," which works well at cocktail parties, and "charisma," which works well in legislatures and foreign nations. Gore, who has been criticized for his clunky speaking style, is no stranger to the later. As vice president, he has had ample opportunity to deal with world leaders whose mere names might give Bush pause.
In this global age, presidential leadership requires more than a fresh outlook or a seasoned team of advisers. It requires a blend of experience, knowledge and charisma--qualities that Gore has exemplified throughout his thus-far impressive career in Washington.
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