Tags: Gore's | Lean | the | Left | Draws | Fire | From

Gore's Lean to the Left Draws Fire From the Right

Tuesday, 19 November 2002 12:00 AM

During a book tour stop in New York last week, Gore took some time to bemoan the "impending crisis" facing the "entire health-care system" and call for Canadian style socialized medicine.

"I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health-insurance plan," Gore announced, echoing not his 2000 campaign theme but that of the first Clinton/Gore campaign in 1992.

"He can't win the nomination the way he did it in 2000," said Sabato. At the time, "he could take moderate positions and still win, because he was the incumbent vice president. Now he has to earn the support of the primary constituency, which is mainly liberal.

"He has to thrill their hearts, and one way to do it is to come out for single-payer health care reform," Sabato added.

Some evidence indicates that Democrats harbor plenty of doubt about Gore's ability to win. A recent Los Angeles Times poll found only a third of Democratic National Committee members saying that Gore should run again and nearly half saying he should not.

In another recent poll, this one by CNN/USA Today/Gallup, 54 percent of Democrats said congressional Democrats should pursue "more moderate" policies, compared to just 39 percent who wanted a "more liberal" agenda.

There's also some evidence that voters may not be keen on revisiting the issue of national health care.

On Election Day this year, Oregon voters rejected a statewide proposal to launch a single-payer health care system. In fact, the measure received just 20 percent of the vote in a state where Gore and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader combined won over half of the votes cast in the 2000 presidential election.

Will Marshall, a self-styled moderate Democrat with the Progressive Policy Institute, gave a mixed review to Gore's new issue. "The goal of universal coverage is the right one, and that ought to be Democrats' top health-care priority," Marshall told the Washington Times. But "I don't see what good could come from resurrecting archaic ideas about how to achieve the goal."

Sooner or later, Gore would face a mountain of criticism from conservatives should he continue promoting government-run health care. Already, a handful of conservatives are speaking out against it.

David Frum, a contributing editor for the National Review, described Gore as either brave or tone-deaf and warned that, despite the simplicity and "hassle-free" virtues of the Canadian system, it's most characterized by waiting lists to get all manner of health care services, including heart angioplasty and radiation treatment for prostate cancer.

The Seniors Coalition called the Gore approach "too radical," predicting that it would "hurt seniors' access to high-quality, affordable healthcare."

"We thought he had abandoned this kind of failed idea," said Mary M. Martin, chairman of the Seniors Coalition.

Sabato does not believe the national health care issue will be the end of Gore's run to the left. Foreign policy issues, chiefly the handling of Iraq and al-Qaeda, will also likely draw more criticism from Gore of the Bush administration.

Regarding Iraq, Gore is "waiting to pounce if this does not work out. He's already made clear that he doesn't agree with the way in which Bush is pursuing foreign policy."

It's on national security issues that Gore can distinguish himself from other would-be presidential candidates, said Sabato, because it's Gore who has the credentials to talk about national security.

On other issues near and dear to liberal hearts, "he'll try to get away with doing as little as possible," Sabato predicted, "but he knows he's got to struggle."

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During a book tour stop in New York last week, Gore took some time to bemoan the "impending crisis" facing the "entire health-care system" and call for Canadian style socialized medicine. "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a...
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2002-00-19
Tuesday, 19 November 2002 12:00 AM
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