Al Gore, the Lawyer
Jude Wanniski
October 23, 2000


Memo To: Sen. Robert Torricelli [D-NJ]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Why Gore is “Not Liked”

Remember I told you several months ago, in your office, that I did not believe the American people would elect Al Gore, because he thinks like a lawyer? I think you might agree at this point that the Vice President has been able to win all three debates with George W. Bush -- on debating points -- but he probably has lost any chance of winning the presidency in the process. Dick Morris thinks there is no way Gore now can persuade the electorate that he is a “likeable” fellow and could win only if he persuades the people that GWB would be an environmental disaster or a threat to Medicare. Democratic politicians seem to be picking up that argument, knowing Gore has lost the “likeability” contest. Rep. Jim Moran [D-VA] was on a CNN talk show recently saying that if this were a contest for the presidency of a fraternity, he would vote for Bush. Somehow, I suspect when Rep. Moran gets in the voting booth, he will vote for Bush.

The electorate wants someone as President who will try to represent all the people, which is what a politician tries to do, not half the people, which is what a lawyer is paid to do. A good lawyer will win all his debates, for the plaintiff or for the defendant, depending upon who hires him. A good politician knows how to compose the differences of the plaintiff and defendant and persuade them to settle out of court. Somehow, in hearing Gore debate, I have the feeling he has memorized his arguments rather than having thought them through. Bush is no lawyer and clearly does think like a pol. There is actually nothing wrong with thinking like a lawyer, but the electorate seems to prefer politicians in the Oval Office. Bill Clinton has a law degree, but he is all pol. Here is my first commentary to my clients on Gore, dated February 22, 1999.

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VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: Gore has all the advantages, of course, and almost certainly will be the Democratic nominee in 2000. Conventional wisdom assumes his approach to governance is nearly identical to President Clinton's, but Gore is the leader of the anti-growth wing of the Democratic Party while Clinton has been more amenable to market-based economic growth. Clinton also thinks like a politician, while Gore thinks like a lawyer. Concern about a Gore presidency is one of the reasons the national electorate hesitated about removing Clinton because of his private sexual behavior. He could become President if the Republican nominee cannot persuade the electorate that he can be trusted with a GOP Congress. The electorate would prefer to keep Congress in GOP hands. [February 22, 1999]

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The electorate may finally decide it would rather settle for a divided government, giving Bush the White House and the Democrats the House or Senate, but not both.