As depressing and fascinating as the talk was, though, the highlight for me was when one of my students got to ask him a question at the end: "What would you have done differently from President Bush after 9/11?"
Gore took a deep breath, and then friggin' unloaded.
He first complemented Bush for uniting the nation, and expressed support for the Afghanistan invasion. But then the important differences came out:
- Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq. (Duh.)
- If he had invaded Iraq, he wouldn't have diverted troops from Tora Bora to do so. (Duh.)
Gore didn't come out and say it, but he seems to think that he or Clinton could have prevented 9/11 had they been at the helm. Obviously, you can't know something like that, but it's clear that there was enough information out there to derail the attacks, and no central figure had taken the leadership role of putting the information together.
Gore sounded pretty pissed off at this point, different from his more jovial, scholarly tone from the rest of the evening. I found it incredibly powerful.
Oh, by the way, he said he's not interested in running for president. He seems to think he can do more to help the world in his current role.