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Al Gore, Unleashed

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_david_mi_051027_al_gore__unleashed.htm Al Gore, Unleashed Tell A Friend by David Michael Green If it s not too early -
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 10, 2005
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      http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_david_mi_051027_al_gore__unleashed.htm
      Al Gore, Unleashed
      Tell A Friend

      by David Michael Green

      If it's not too early - 37 months before the election - I'd like to
      make an endorsement for president in 2008.

      It is an endorsement I could not have imagined making in 2000, and
      certainly not in 1988. But it is one I make today with only a slight
      degree of trepidation. I've had my heart broken in political love
      affairs more times than I can count, but somehow this one feels like a
      keeper.

      I call for Al Gore to run for president in 2008.

      He is, within the limitations of the possible, precisely what America
      requires in this hour of need, and perhaps just what American
      progressivism requires as well.

      The rap on Gore is as long as it is broadly known, so there's no use
      reiterating all his failings as a politician. Besides, some of these
      accusations were always just plain unfair. While he admittedly
      electrified no one in 2000, I think many of the charges against him
      regarding, for example, strategic decisions made in that campaign, are
      unwarranted. Given the conditions under which he ran, and given his
      political commitments at the time, I would have advised many of the
      same choices.

      My biggest complaint against Gore has always been his politics, not
      his personality or his reputed woodenness as a candidate (another
      exaggerated accusation, I'd say). If, like me, you wanted your
      Democratic nominee to have the politics of an FDR or a Paul Wellstone,
      in Al Gore you got instead a Joe Lieberman - that is, essentially
      moderate conservatism masked as centrism. Like Bill Clinton, minus the
      charisma.

      But that was the old Al. If you've been following the guy over the
      last couple of years you know that what has emerged is not just a new
      politician with a new political incarnation, but something bigger than
      that, what I take to be a truly new man. Or, perhaps more accurately,
      the original man, now unpackaged.

      Of course, this was precisely the central complaint about the old Gore
      - that he kept remaking himself so many times that you never knew who
      he was. And who wants a politician who is just a chameleon, constantly
      prostituting himself by pandering for every possible vote? But, again,
      I always believed that this charge was more clever and effective
      opposition framing than reality, just like the garbage about Gore's
      inflated sense of himself as inventor of the Internet, or as
      inspiration for "Love Story". Much of this was the 2000 election
      equivalent of the `flip-flopper' thing they did to Kerry in 2004, only
      with far less relationship to reality. Republicans desperately needed
      to turn Gore into something laughable in order to keep people from
      bursting into guffaws at the patently ridiculous Bush instead, and a
      biased press went along, with Gore facilitating the ride by failing to
      make nice to the boys in the back of the bus.

      In truth, Gore's fundamental mistake to date has been the Democratic
      Party's fundamental mistake for a quarter-century now. It is the
      mistake of replacing cleverness for conviction, personality for
      politics, calculation for courage. When was the last time progressives
      had a Democratic presidential candidate they could vote for with
      genuine enthusiasm, as opposed to just avoiding the eviler of two
      lessers? Dukakis? Please. Carter? Jimmy's been a lot better former
      president than he was president. Clinton? Better than the alternatives
      of Herbert Walker or Dole was about all I could ever say about him.
      Dukakis (oops, I mean Kerry)? Don't get me started. I'd say it was
      George McGovern, over thirty years ago, and I wasn't even old enough
      to vote then.

      Al Gore today strikes me as a man unleashed. I sense that he is
      someone with nothing to lose anymore, someone who has thrown off the
      straightjacket of a lifetime's grooming and aspiration only to now be
      able, Zen-like, to achieve what he has always wanted simply by not
      trying so hard. If Gore runs like he has been speaking and writing
      while in exile these last five years, I think America is going to see
      a Democratic candidate the likes of which it hasn't since perhaps Give
      `Em Hell Harry Truman did his number in 1948.

      Why Gore? There are a number of reasons, beyond the obvious ones of
      resume (including having been the second-most powerful vice-president
      in American history), name-recognition, campaign experience, fully
      vetted background, and an existing campaign infrastructure.

      The most important reason is conviction. I have written and said this
      countless times, but I will do so again, at the risk of being
      redundant, because I believe it is one of the central axioms of
      American politics (and indeed of human nature everywhere). Simply put,
      people want to be led, and - within limits - they don't care quite so
      much where you want to lead them as they do that you the leader know
      where you're going. Both Reagan and Young Bush (till lately) have
      proven this, it seems to me, by being leaders who were popular chiefly
      on the basis of their leadership, not because of, and even despite,
      public policy preferences and ideological dispositions often quite
      contrary to theirs. This is especially true in the short-term, and, of
      course, the entire life of any non-incumbent in a campaign is in the
      short-term.

      If Al Gore can resist the temptation to yield to the inevitable
      gravitational forces yanking any candidate towards becoming some
      Malt-O-Meal mushy political porridge of the unseasoned center, he can
      be an extremely formidable candidate. The issues are on his side. He
      need only to present them forcefully, consistently and with
      conviction, and the voters will follow. The alternative is disaster.
      Voters can smell insincerity and pandering, and they rarely reward it.
      The popularity of John McCain (quite possibly the Republican nominee
      in 2008), and his distinction from garden-variety politicians in or
      out of his party, is based almost entirely on his perceived persona as
      a rare politician of conviction. In my judgement he wasted a lot of
      that with his bear-hug of Bush in 2004 (which any smart Democrat would
      use in 2008 to dismantle this persona, and hence his very raison
      d'ĂȘtre as a candidate), but the point is that John McCain is John
      McCain almost entirely because of this perception of him as a man of
      conviction. Al Gore can be the same, especially if he let's his anger
      about what is happening to America guide his campaign.

      This is the second reason why Gore should run, and could be a monster
      as a candidate. I think he's flat out pissed, and he should be. Like
      the button on my coat says, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying
      attention". Gore is paying attention, and he is sickened, as are the
      rest of us who are paying attention, at what is happening to our
      country, and at what our country is doing to the world. My guess is
      that this means he will not be steamrolled by the right like he was in
      2000, or Dukakis was in 1988, or Kerry in 2004, or Clinton for the
      eight years of his presidency. My guess is that Gore has learned the
      hard way that these people wrecking America and the world are cowardly
      bullies who, like Hitler at Munich, only win when the opposition lacks
      the courage to call them out.

      And it would be so very easy to do. This is what I never understood
      about Clinton or Kerry. In any case, I don't sense that Al Gore is
      going to reprise that mistake. Gore has a healthy anger about what is
      happening to America - and, make no mistake, anger is the only healthy
      sentiment for patriots right now. If he continues to harness it into a
      steely comportment that takes no crap from no one, never, no how -
      then look out.

      A third reason Gore would be a formidable candidate is because he is
      smart, and, oh, how refreshing that would be after eight years of the
      Slogan Boy on Permanent Vacation, the president who doesn't even read
      newspapers but relies instead on his aides to learn what is happening
      in the world. (You remember them, right? Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld,
      Scooter Libby, Michael Brown, Harriet Miers, Paul Wolfowitz?) Gore is
      not just smart like Clinton the policy wonk, or Carter the nuclear
      engineer, but he is philosopher-of-history smart. He has a keen sense
      of America's place in a historical and global context, and a better
      understanding by far than anybody prominent in the political arena of
      what the challenges of the future entail. The easiest place to see
      that is in how he got environmentalism and the Iraq war right while so
      many continue even to this day to get those questions wrong, with
      disastrous consequences. But those were easy calls. What's harder is
      seeing the future now, and determining what America needs to remain
      prosperous, and what the world needs from American leadership in order
      to transcend the massive global challenges we all now face. Gore is
      light years ahead of anybody else on these sorts of issues, in part
      because he's one of the few political figures other than Newt Gingrich
      (who of course gets it wrong) even thinking about them.

      As if those aren't reasons enough to like Gore in 2008, one of the
      best is that he is right on the issues. If I have to vote for another
      mealy-mouthed self-serving Democratic punk once again, I ... won't. Is
      it too much to ask for a candidate with the integrity, guts and
      intelligence to have rejected Bush's tax cuts, his disaster in Iraq,
      his Social Security raid, and his other attempts to hurl America off a
      cliff? Not only is Al Gore one of the few big-league Democrats who was
      on the right side of those issues, he was so early and passionately,
      at a time and in a way which looked a lot like career suicide to the
      DLC hacks of this world (talk about taking (a former) one to know
      one). Gore was a rare voice of sanity among America's political class,
      at a time when it was desperately needed. As the ship of state
      teetered perilously in the direction of fascism, where were the
      leading figures of the `left' party in America? Where were the
      patriots when we needed them most? I'll tell you where. They were
      getting briefed by the likes of Bob Shrum on focus groups and polling
      data, that's where.

      Which brings me to yet another reason to support Gore in 2008: What is
      the alternative? Hillary? Besides the fact that I never understood why
      anybody was ever so in love with (or so hated) her, other than as
      another twisted manifestation of America's gaga celebrity culture, she
      is also the very definition of the Democratic Party's problem.
      Calculated triangulation is no way to win an election, even if your
      opponents aren't vicious street-fighters from the Atwater Academy of
      Politics, the electoral version of the School of the Americas. Just
      ask John Kerry, our next alternative. After the trainwreck of the last
      campaign, I can't even think of Kerry without going apoplectic, veins
      bulging from my temples. And so I won't. Suffice it to say that I hope
      he will have the decency to do the right thing in 2008, and stay home.

      Who does that leave? Joe Biden? Bill Richardson? These guys have all
      the steel of fresh spaghetti and all the charisma of stale sauce. John
      Edwards? Mark Warner? Please. I don't know if Mario Cuomo still has it
      in him, and I could get moderately excited about a Russ Feingold
      candidacy, but nobody can touch today's Al Gore for the total package
      of brains, passion, resume and guts.

      I'm not wedded to Al Gore the person. Like I said, it would have been
      hard for me to imagine writing this column with respect to his earlier
      incarnation. But my gut tells me that Gore has learned what Democrats
      by and large have not. Namely, that you actually have a lot better
      chance of not going down if you go down swinging. And that, anyway,
      what's the point of capturing the White House if you're not going to
      do anything with it other than give it away to Wall Street in between
      chasing interns around the desk?

      If Gore sells out, forget him forever. I'm willing to give him this
      second chance because of circumstances and because of the courage he's
      been showing me, but certainly never a third. But I don't think he
      will go astray. I think he's crossed an ideological and personal
      Rubicon. People running for president following the cautious,
      triangulation-style strategy of either Clinton or of Kerry don't lay
      down bright red markers of fire-glowing ember like Gore has. There's
      no going back now, and I sense he likes that just fine.

      And so do I. I could be way wrong, but I think that Al Gore has become
      the candidate so many of us have been craving for so long - for most,
      across a lifetime. Someone, that is, who is liberated from the caustic
      all-consuming desire simply to be president that animates so many
      candidates. Someone who can therefore campaign as a true patriot.
      Someone who mixes empathy, courage, passion, honesty, experience and
      intelligence into a formidably attractive candidate whom voters can
      affirmatively vote for, as opposed to choosing simply for lack of
      alternative.

      Today's Al Gore - the real Al Gore - reminds me of no one so much as
      Warren Beatty's fictional Senator Jay Billington Bulworth, a man about
      to die, and therefore liberated from the need to play the game any
      longer, with refreshing and delightful results.

      Gore is not about to die, of course, but in some ways he already has.
      They took everything from him, and he strikes me now as someone
      ironically unburdened in the process. Gore won the presidency, and
      they stole that from him, leaving him us with the American Caligula
      instead. Along the way they took his public reputation from him, to
      boot. Now Al Gore seems like a man set free, as anxious to serve the
      country as he is to atone for his past failures at living up to his
      own standards of honesty and courage, and as ready to rumble as is
      necessary. The guy's not playing beanbag this time.

      Howard Dean was probably pretty close to being that candidate in 2004,
      but when Kerry started aping his line on Bush and the war, Democrats
      figured they could get both the good politics and the resume in one
      package, and were fooled into going for the junior senator from
      Massachusetts. There is every reason to believe that could happen
      again with Hillary Clinton, but one of the best chances of avoiding
      that fate would be a Gore candidacy.

      I therefore hope, for all these reasons, that Al Gore runs in 2008. He
      is just what the Democratic Party needs, and a revived, progressive
      Democratic Party in power is just what the country and the world badly
      needs as well.

      Run Al, run. Run for our lives. Run hard, say what you know to be
      true, and don't look back.

      Run as if the fate of the nation and the world depends on who is next
      chosen to lead the world's only superpower, lately and dangerously
      gone pathologically amok.

      Because it does.

      David Michael Green (pscdmg@...) is a professor of political
      science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive
      readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints
      do not always allow him to respond.
    • THOMAS JOHNSON
      Interesting. Expect to hear more about values from the Dems, I caught 2 press conferences today and and values came up a lot. The best line of the day came
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 11, 2005
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        Interesting.
        Expect to hear more about values from the Dems, I
        caught 2 press conferences today and and values came
        up a lot. The best line of the day came from Nancy
        Pelosi (paraphrasing): " I don't know just what
        children have done to the administration to be
        punished like this" speaking to regard to a rotten
        (and dead in the water) budget.

        Tom

        --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

        >
        http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_david_mi_051027_al_gore__unleashed.htm
        > Al Gore, Unleashed
        > Tell A Friend
        >
        > by David Michael Green
        >
        > If it's not too early - 37 months before the
        > election - I'd like to
        > make an endorsement for president in 2008.
        >
        > It is an endorsement I could not have imagined
        > making in 2000, and
        > certainly not in 1988. But it is one I make today
        > with only a slight
        > degree of trepidation. I've had my heart broken in
        > political love
        > affairs more times than I can count, but somehow
        > this one feels like a
        > keeper.
        >
        > I call for Al Gore to run for president in 2008.
        >
        > He is, within the limitations of the possible,
        > precisely what America
        > requires in this hour of need, and perhaps just what
        > American
        > progressivism requires as well.
        >
        > The rap on Gore is as long as it is broadly known,
        > so there's no use
        > reiterating all his failings as a politician.
        > Besides, some of these
        > accusations were always just plain unfair. While he
        > admittedly
        > electrified no one in 2000, I think many of the
        > charges against him
        > regarding, for example, strategic decisions made in
        > that campaign, are
        > unwarranted. Given the conditions under which he
        > ran, and given his
        > political commitments at the time, I would have
        > advised many of the
        > same choices.
        >
        > My biggest complaint against Gore has always been
        > his politics, not
        > his personality or his reputed woodenness as a
        > candidate (another
        > exaggerated accusation, I'd say). If, like me, you
        > wanted your
        > Democratic nominee to have the politics of an FDR or
        > a Paul Wellstone,
        > in Al Gore you got instead a Joe Lieberman - that
        > is, essentially
        > moderate conservatism masked as centrism. Like Bill
        > Clinton, minus the
        > charisma.
        >
        > But that was the old Al. If you've been following
        > the guy over the
        > last couple of years you know that what has emerged
        > is not just a new
        > politician with a new political incarnation, but
        > something bigger than
        > that, what I take to be a truly new man. Or, perhaps
        > more accurately,
        > the original man, now unpackaged.
        >
        > Of course, this was precisely the central complaint
        > about the old Gore
        > - that he kept remaking himself so many times that
        > you never knew who
        > he was. And who wants a politician who is just a
        > chameleon, constantly
        > prostituting himself by pandering for every possible
        > vote? But, again,
        > I always believed that this charge was more clever
        > and effective
        > opposition framing than reality, just like the
        > garbage about Gore's
        > inflated sense of himself as inventor of the
        > Internet, or as
        > inspiration for "Love Story". Much of this was the
        > 2000 election
        > equivalent of the `flip-flopper' thing they did to
        > Kerry in 2004, only
        > with far less relationship to reality. Republicans
        > desperately needed
        > to turn Gore into something laughable in order to
        > keep people from
        > bursting into guffaws at the patently ridiculous
        > Bush instead, and a
        > biased press went along, with Gore facilitating the
        > ride by failing to
        > make nice to the boys in the back of the bus.
        >
        > In truth, Gore's fundamental mistake to date has
        > been the Democratic
        > Party's fundamental mistake for a quarter-century
        > now. It is the
        > mistake of replacing cleverness for conviction,
        > personality for
        > politics, calculation for courage. When was the last
        > time progressives
        > had a Democratic presidential candidate they could
        > vote for with
        > genuine enthusiasm, as opposed to just avoiding the
        > eviler of two
        > lessers? Dukakis? Please. Carter? Jimmy's been a lot
        > better former
        > president than he was president. Clinton? Better
        > than the alternatives
        > of Herbert Walker or Dole was about all I could ever
        > say about him.
        > Dukakis (oops, I mean Kerry)? Don't get me started.
        > I'd say it was
        > George McGovern, over thirty years ago, and I wasn't
        > even old enough
        > to vote then.
        >
        > Al Gore today strikes me as a man unleashed. I sense
        > that he is
        > someone with nothing to lose anymore, someone who
        > has thrown off the
        > straightjacket of a lifetime's grooming and
        > aspiration only to now be
        > able, Zen-like, to achieve what he has always wanted
        > simply by not
        > trying so hard. If Gore runs like he has been
        > speaking and writing
        > while in exile these last five years, I think
        > America is going to see
        > a Democratic candidate the likes of which it hasn't
        > since perhaps Give
        > `Em Hell Harry Truman did his number in 1948.
        >
        > Why Gore? There are a number of reasons, beyond the
        > obvious ones of
        > resume (including having been the second-most
        > powerful vice-president
        > in American history), name-recognition, campaign
        > experience, fully
        > vetted background, and an existing campaign
        > infrastructure.
        >
        > The most important reason is conviction. I have
        > written and said this
        > countless times, but I will do so again, at the risk
        > of being
        > redundant, because I believe it is one of the
        > central axioms of
        > American politics (and indeed of human nature
        > everywhere). Simply put,
        > people want to be led, and - within limits - they
        > don't care quite so
        > much where you want to lead them as they do that you
        > the leader know
        > where you're going. Both Reagan and Young Bush (till
        > lately) have
        > proven this, it seems to me, by being leaders who
        > were popular chiefly
        > on the basis of their leadership, not because of,
        > and even despite,
        > public policy preferences and ideological
        > dispositions often quite
        > contrary to theirs. This is especially true in the
        > short-term, and, of
        > course, the entire life of any non-incumbent in a
        > campaign is in the
        > short-term.
        >
        > If Al Gore can resist the temptation to yield to the
        > inevitable
        > gravitational forces yanking any candidate towards
        > becoming some
        > Malt-O-Meal mushy political porridge of the
        > unseasoned center, he can
        > be an extremely formidable candidate. The issues are
        > on his side. He
        > need only to present them forcefully, consistently
        > and with
        > conviction, and the voters will follow. The
        > alternative is disaster.
        > Voters can smell insincerity and pandering, and they
        > rarely reward it.
        > The popularity of John McCain (quite possibly the
        > Republican nominee
        > in 2008), and his distinction from garden-variety
        > politicians in or
        > out of his party, is based almost entirely on his
        > perceived persona as
        > a rare politician of conviction. In my judgement he
        > wasted a lot of
        > that with his bear-hug of Bush in 2004 (which any
        > smart Democrat would
        > use in 2008 to dismantle this persona, and hence his
        > very raison
        > d'ĂȘtre as a candidate), but the point is that John
        > McCain is John
        > McCain almost entirely because of this perception of
        > him as a man of
        >
        === message truncated ===
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