When George W. Bush's misdemeanor drunk-driving arrest was uncovered last week, the governor did the right thing: He acknowledged that he did it, he acknowledged its stupidity and he talked of how he grew from it. Bush did not dodge the issue or gloss over its severity. He didn't play cat-and-mouse games with the media, but told the truth when asked. That straight talk has satisfied Americans who are not letting a summer night arrest from a quarter-century ago spoil an election today. A Fox News survey found that only 7 percent of people after hearing about the DUI had "serious questions" about Bush's ability to serve. The same survey found that 5 percent felt more inclined to support him due to the revelation's suspicious timing and Democratic lawyer Tom Connoly's enthusiastic claim to being the source of the revelation. But this kind of truth-telling about his past is nothing new for Bush. Since his campaign began, he has been open about the fact that he made many mistakes and has discussed his struggles with alcohol. He talks of how his adolescent lifestyle followed him into adulthood and how it nearly tore his family apart, leading him to give up the bottle for good in 1986 and recommit himself to his family and to his God. Though the DUI revelation doesn't tell us more about Bush than we already knew, it does highlight a stark contrast between him and his opponent, Al Gore. The manners in which Bush and Gore handle past mistakes are immensely different, and that difference goes a long way in telling not simply who was the more responsible man in the past, but who is more responsible now. Bush owns up to his past and is not ashamed of it. Gore, however, has repeatedly used half-truths and spin to cover up some dubious tracks. Most recently, Gore has not owned up to any wrongdoing behind his 1995 confidential agreements with then-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. A New York Times exclusive last month detailed the agreements that allowed Russia to sell caches of conventional weapons to Iran. Under the agreements, Russia escaped a U.S. law that levies sanctions against countries that supply arms to terrorist-sponsoring states, which Gore himself penned with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 1992. The agreement, which was not submitted for Senate ratification as dictated by the Constitution, put submarines and long-range torpedoes in the hands of terrorists, something Gore determined was not a threat to U.S. security interests and therefore allowable under the law. But Gore has not backed up that claim with documentation, refusing to release the agreement's language for review despite demands from senators. But even if Gore's actions did follow the letter of the law, they certainly did not follow its spirit. That's something Gore, being the legislation's sponsor, is in the best position to understand. Gore has also never come clean about his shady campaign finance history, from White House fundraising phone calls to the Buddhist temple debacle. Instead of being upfront with Americans when news of the Buddhist temple broke in 1996, he said it was a "community outreach" event. This phrase later changed to "donor maintenance" in 1997. And not until this year did Gore finally admit the temple get-together was a finance-related event, though he still maintains that he was unaware of it at the time -- despite the fact that the more than $100,000 changing hands that day went straight to his and Clinton's campaign coffers. With euphemisms like "donor maintenance," legalese like "no controlling legal authority" and the plain and simple "losing" of e-mails, Gore has gone to great lengths to mask his wrongs and dodge the campaign finance bullet. Last week, after Bush's DUI arrest came to light, Gore's campaign chief, William Daley, said that it was about time Bush "started accepting responsibility." Daley, though, should have been speaking to his boss. In 24 hours, the polls will open and two men will be on the threshold of a presidency. Gore's trail of dishonesty has gotten him this far. Hopefully, it won't carry him any farther.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.