What Al Gore Said About Invention

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on September 21, 2010

One of the fun things you can do is chase down urban legends. Some of them are true, Some of them are not. Often, when you go looking, you will find surprising things.

There is a blogpost called 50 dumb liberal quotes. In a surprise move, the site has links to the comments. This allows you to go to the source, and see what the person really said. ( Fortunately, these quotes are in English, and you don’t have to depend on a translation.) ( The counterpoint post, Top 50 Dumbest Conservative Quotes , does not supply links.) HT to Morgan K Freeberg.

The quote that caught PG’s eye was by Al Gore.
“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Mr. Gore is someone that conservatives love to hate, and this quote has been widely disseminated. PG has always wondered, what did Mr. Gore really say?
The link goes to a transcript of an interview on CNN, dated March 3, 1999.
“BLITZER:Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn’t necessarily bring to this process?
GORE: Well, I will be offering — I’ll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.
But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I’ve traveled to every part of this country during the last six years.
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”
It sounds to this reporter that Mr. Gore made efforts in the Senate ( before 1992) to help establish the internet. This is not the same as saying “I invented the internet”. It is the sort of campaign fluffery that no one takes seriously. It would have been best if Mr. Gore had used the word help.

The statement before that…
“I’ve traveled to every part of this country during the last six years”… is about as silly. Did Al Gore go to Little Diode Island? That is the island near Alaska that is three miles from Russia. This is the sort of thing politicians say, which few believe.
The rest of the interview is fun to read, from the perspective of eleven years later. At the time, the dot com boom was in full flower. This was the time of a major sex scandal in the White House, countered by a thriving economy.

The major international issue discussed was China. Not one word was said about the middle east or terrorism. In the past eleven years, China has loaned America trillions of dollars to finance wars in Babylon. 1999 was a simpler time and place.

5 Responses

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  1. Morgan K Freeberg said, on September 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I remember this very well. Before this instant, I relied on Snopes uncritically. After my e-mail fist-fight with David Mikkelson about this, I still respect them but I take what they say with a LARGE grain of salt. And I consult them about, maybe, one percent as often as I did eleven years ago…that estimate is a generous one.

    You see, whether or not Al Gore is proven guilty by this quote, depends almost completely on how one originally framed the indictment. It’s an Obi-Wan Kenobi moment — a great many of the truths to which we cling, depend greatly on our point of view. If the Big Reveal was that Al Gore was stealing credit from the people who really did invent the Internet, then Gore emerges from this entirely innocent. On the other hand, if you envision the charge as one concerning a vastly over-inflated sense of importance of self…to the point of being a borderline mental illness. If you think Al Gore has revealed himself as one of those empty-suit managers, the kind that work their political magic behind the scenes, get the money improved, and then when YOU go and invent something with it HE goes and takes the credit for it. Or if you think he’s just shown himself to be habitually saying silly things, as if (or perhaps because) he often talks to people as if they’re small, dense children…then, if that is the charge, the evidence is rather damning. As you point out, it was just a silly thing to say. Real, three-dimensional, mutually-respectful people do not speak this way.

    It also comes off as rather Keynesian. Nothing damning about that, if you believe in Keynesian economics…except that the workings of the magical Keynesian engine have very little to do with offering the line of products over time that have contributed to what we, today, call the “Internet.” It is the contribution of a whole bunch of talented individuals, who for the most part worked in solitude as individuals. A lot of the high profile that was ultimately given to these inventions, could not have occurred if significant sums of money had been pooled together in one place, and we have the centralized-authority-structures to thank for that. And you hit the nail on the head with the word “helped”; Al Gore has legitimate claim to take his place among the spending-fund-managers taking a bow.

    But by and large, it’s a cowboy-way-invention. With a bushel of money brought in, but no naturally-talented, dedicated absent-minded professor to labor at a drawing board coming up with good algorithms/applications/toolkits/wiring diagrams, it ends up being just another money-spending boondoggle.

    Mikkelson sought to make this look like Al Gore was being unfairly maligned, missing the idiosyncrasies involved to say such silly things. He sacrificed his credibility to give the situation this appearance — at least, as far as I’m concerned.

    • chamblee54 said, on September 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you for the comment, and for telling me about those two lists. I should be able to milk at least one more post out of this.
      Politicians who are running for office say a lot of silly things. The idea that an opponent could pull out a quote like this out of the jillions of things you say to the press must be scary.
      It is said that if Jesus had known how his words would be micro interpreted, he would have never said a word.
      I also find it interesting how Mr. Gore has become a headline spokesman for the effort to reduce carbon pollution. Here is a man, with a persona easy to mock, who has millions of political enemies, and few real hard core admirers. It is as if the powers that be wanted someone who would be easy to dismiss as leading the charge to reduce carbon pollution.

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