Monday, May 21, 2007

Al Gore

Time magazine wrote a very flattering article on Al Gore last week. It’s worth spending a few minutes on if you didn’t read it.

Mr. Gore will have another book out shortly, The Assault on Reason. An excerpt was carried along with the Time article and the book will definitely be on my “to read” list when it comes out. There were a couple of passages that I thought exceptionally insightful in just the excerpt. It's these little gems that make or break a book for me. To find two in just an excerpt bodes well for the book.

The first has to do with the dominance of television in America.

”In the world of television, the massive flows of information are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not speak. The "well-informed citizenry" is in danger of becoming the "well-amused audience."

In discussing this article with my wife (she’s good about humoring me), my teenage son walked by and heard the name “Al Gore.” “He’s not thinking about running is he ? Doesn’t he know he’ll never get enough votes to win ?” My wife and I had to do a double take. It’s unusual for my son to enter these conversations and it was somewhat shocking to hear someone of such intelligence being so wrong. We both reminded him that Al Gore did in fact get enough votes to win in 2000.

My son’s confusion was quite understandable though. That was half a lifetime ago for him. But it drove home the point Mr. Gore made in the other little gem in the excerpt.

”I authorized the plan and was astonished when three weeks later my lead had increased by exactly 8.5%. Though pleased, of course, for my own campaign, I had a sense of foreboding for what this revealed about our democracy. Clearly, at least to some degree, the "consent of the governed" was becoming a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder. To the extent that money and the clever use of electronic mass media could be used to manipulate the outcome of elections, the role of reason began to diminish.”

If I may be so bold as to add some recommended reading, I’d suggest surfing over to Wikipedia and reading up on a FCC rule that is fading from memory: The Fairness Doctrine. Pay particular attention to the dates mentioned and who was President of the United States at the time. And if that doesn’t drive home the point, perhaps this will.

”In 1984, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, California, where he replaced Morton Downey, Jr.[2] The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine—which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast—by the FCC in 1987 meant stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views. Daniel Henninger wrote, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987...and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination." [9]”

Have you ever wondered about how many times you’ve heard the phrase “liberal media” in the last decade ? Have you ever taken a look at who owns “the media” ? Perhaps you should.

Thank God for the internet. Hey, wait a minute. Al Gore. The Internet. Where have I heard that before ?

Al Gore

“On 19 March 1979, Gore became the first person to appear on C-SPAN, making a speech in the House chambers.[15] In the late 1980s, Gore introduced the Gore Bill, which was later passed as the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991. The bill was one of the most important pieces of legislation directly affecting the expansion of the internet.”

(emphasis added)

Don Brown
May 21, 2007

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