Monday, March 20, 2006

Gore in 2008?

Ever since Al Gore sat in a hot tub on Saturday Night Live, and followed that appearance with an announcement that he would not run for president in 2004, conventional wisdom has been that his days of seeking political office are over. Following the chaos of the 2000 election battle, and seemingly freed from the constraints of worrying about public consensus, a new Al Gore emerged as a cogent and uncompromising critic of the Bush administration; dawned the hero's cape to rescue ailing patients from a Louisiana hospital during Katrina; launched a new media venture; and is gradually becoming the most recognized and respected international spokesperson on the dangers of global warming. Nowhere, it seems, is running for office even a consideration.

And although the democratic field of presidential candidates for 2008 is dense, favorites are already emerging. Hardball, along with much of the Republican leadership, has annointed Hillary Clinton the frontrunner; the blogosphere is fawning over Russ "Censure the President" Feingold; and the traditional media is looking for the next Clinton in Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. Al Gore, we're told, has found his niche and it ain't running for office.

And indeed, every spokesperson for Gore has echoed that, time and time again. But a recent article in The American Prospect leaves the door open just enough to speculate:
And it could be Gore, if he wants it. Here’s the scenario: Hillary Clinton continues rolling forward, amassing establishment support and locking down the large donors. Anti-Hillary voters prove unable to coalesce around a single champion, so Clinton is able to suck up all the oxygen but, as with most faits accomplis, attracts little genuine enthusiasm. At the same time, her hawkishness and ostentatious moderation sparks widespread disillusionment among the online activist community. Inevitably, the liberal wing of the party begins calling for a Bigfoot of its own to enter the primary, and the obvious prospect is Gore. DraftGore.com, which already exists, amplifies the drumbeat, collecting pledges and holding events. The press corps, sensing a Godzilla vs. King Kong battle, begins covering the events. As Marty Peretz, publisher of The New Republic and a longtime friend of Gore, says, “if he were to find that there was some groundswell for him, I think it would be hard to resist.”
So it seems a long shot at best. If he were to declare, would his new image and fund-raising capabilities make him the automatic front runner? Who knows? Republicans did a character assassination on Gore in the 2000 campaign, with the press as willing accomplices. As a result, Gore suffers from the same bane as Hillary Clinton - high unfavorable ratings from Republicans. In the long run, Gore may serve us better by continuing to focus on global climate change - a threat more serious than terrorism, and an issue seriously begging for a credible political spokesperson. But with a new movie on the issue coming in May, and "draft Gore" momentum building, speculation won't be dying down any time soon.

1 comment:

Bradley Bowen said...

I don't know about Gore. I'm not saying I don't like him in general, but I don't know that I like him as a politician.

As you pointed out, Gore has tremendous unfavorability ratings. I seriously doubt he could get many Republicans to cross over and vote for him. He doesn't stand well with moderates, either. After the 2000 debacle, many moderates that voted for Bush found Gore to be a "sore loser" because of the recounts and the sheer amount of time that the election returns took. We went for over a month (wasn't it?) without knowing who won the election. While I personally think it was necessary and that without the Supreme Court ruling, Gore would've won and would've been the incoming president in 2001, I still don't think that sits well with a lot of people.

Another thing working against him is his reputation. Despite the fact that he's an incredibly intelligent man that was tapped by President Clinton to be VP, he is considered by most Republicans and many moderates to be a dolt. They shudder to think of the consequences of 9/11 if Gore were Commander-in-Chief. They felt like he had no apparent policies and that without Clinton he was nothing.

I just really don't see Gore winning a general election, and I definitely don't want to see another four years of Republican leadership. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, and we need to pick the best leader to move us forward... and a leader that has a definite chance of winning the general election in 2008.