After Gore's speech, there seems to be a meta-debate over whether he contradicted his earlier statements or not. Tim Noah
are defending Gore. Zawicky writes, "one can be committed to regime change without launching a full-scale invasion of a country.. . . The deeper point is that the Right fails to appreciate that Gore is in principle more interventionist than Bush. Gore has not renounced an industrial-strength effort to destroy Saddam. He is in fact proposing a more comprehensive commitment to that same end, one which more sensibly entails the prior neutralizing of Al Queda and the construction of an international consensus.. . . [H]is record, and that of the Clinton Administration, says to me that in fact they are committed to such a campaign."
Gore did say, "And, I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion," but the problem with it is that it sounds a lot like Clinton's explanation of how he tried to get bin Laden, but it just never worked out.
Gore's speech reminds me of George McClellan, the Civil War general who was so good at organizing and training the army, but didn't seem to know how to use it. He too wanted to be president and wrote of Lincoln with the same contempt Gore has for Bush. And he was just as ineffectual as Gore and Clinton were.
I'll grant Gore's apologists that he didn't actually say he was against going against Saddam at all, but his proposal sounds suspiciously like the reasons Germany and France have given for not supporting us. It's a handy device to demand a coalition before doing what needs to be done, but only when you're trying to procrastinate. Of course, the meta-issue of whether Gore was being inconsistent is easier to defend than the main one, whether he should be more trusted to handle this war than Bush.
And then there's that incisive comment, "If you're going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first, especially if you're in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after you." OK, let Gore organize the posse, and let Bush handle the gunfight.