Re-go, Gore!

In the past few days I’ve read two provocative articles on the possibility of an Al Gore presidential run in 2008: one by Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos and one in Rolling Stone. Both agree that he’d be a killer candidate, and both express skepticism that he’d actually run. In the words of Moulitsas,

I doubt he’ll pull the trigger. There’s no need for him to do so. His passion is fighting global warming, not social security solvency or extracting ourselves from Bush’s myriad messes.

Rolling Stone asserts,

Most of Gore’s closest associates believe that he is unlikely to run. “He’s hanging out with interesting people, he’s making money, but he’s still having a serious impact on the political discourse,” says Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network. “You could look at all that and say, ‘My God, he’ll never run for president.’”

A friend of mine from high school, Eli Attie, was part of Al Gore’s staff during the Clinton administration and during the 2000 election. Afterward, he got work in the private sector — as a writer and producer on the TV show The West Wing. I told him how jealous I was of his involvement in presidential politics, and he told me what a relief it was to be out of it. From all I know of what’s involved — cheap hotels, bad food, brutal hours, glad-handing every asshole in sight, constant money-grubbing, and the fearsome unblinking eye of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy — it’s perfectly understandable that Eli, Al Gore, or anyone else would be relieved to be done with it. Who, after all, would ever want to be in it? Only the hopelessly idealistic, or those with an abiding commitment to public service, or to naked power.

And yet…

Al Gore has made a new name for himself as a leader whose passion on issues of global importance has transcended party politics and national boundaries. He and his proxies speak as if a presidential run would mire him in the muck, bringing him back down to a level where he could only be less effective than he is now. But recent history provides an example of another man whose moral leadership transcended politics, yet was coaxed into his country’s presidency to great effect: Nelson Mandela.

For my money, Gore is planning to run, and those who claim to know otherwise are probably dissembling in order to help him set the stage properly. (No, my friendship with Eli Attie gives me no special access nor insight one way or the other.) But just in case he really isn’t planning to run because he believes he’s found his bully pulpit, I have this message for him: the American presidency’s pulpit is bullier, and we need our Mandela.

3 thoughts on “Re-go, Gore!”

  1. Hmmm… Do you think he’d try to convince Hillary to give up her presidential run and run as his running-mate? I could see positives and negatives of that.

  2. There are so many reasons why that would never happen. First, Gore made a mistake like that in 2000 by picking safe-establishment-choice Joe Lieberman. Second, Gore would lose his newfound true-believer cred and rejoin the despised ranks of the political triangulators. Third, I doubt Hillary(‘s ego) would go for it unless/until she loses the primary.

    Perhaps most importantly: Gore is one of the few national-level politicians who has consistently spoken out against the Iraq war. Having been right about that is a big part of his Story, which would only be diluted by the inclusion of Hillary, who has gone through some amazing contortions to continue justifying her pro-war vote. She even pulled a Cheney the other day, conflating Iraq and 9/11.

    That just won’t do for the New Al Gore. Anything less than a contrite, reformed Hillary as running mate would ruin him politically.

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