Monday, August 14, 2006

Gore’s Decision Worth the Weight

Former Vice president Al Gore has been out on the campaign trail recently, however, this time he’s not out stumping for votes but looking for minds to change as it pertains to global warming. His new book and movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is Gore’s methodical narrative on the threat of climate change and its current and future impact on our planet.

The movie has received positive reviews from critics and performed well at the box office since being released and the book sits on the New York Times bestsellers list. Gore has seen his movie’s world premiere in Cannes and he’s plugged it on The Tonight Show couch next to Jay Leno. Al Gore has become a star, but no matter where he goes, the same question is always asked of him: “Will you be a candidate for President of the United States in 2008?”

“I haven’t made a Sherman statement, but that’s not an effort to hold the door open. It’s more the internal shifting of gears,” Gore has said, referring to Civil War-era general William Sherman. “I can’t imagine any circumstances in which I would become a candidate again. I’ve found other ways to serve. I’m enjoying them.”

It’s natural, and politically smart, for Gore to remain coy, yet consistent, regarding his intentions about a potential candidacy at this stage of the game. He doesn’t have to show his cards, not just yet. Frankly, one could look at Gore and see a man who is probably more comfortable with himself than at any time in his life. He’s relaxed, he has a cause to pursue that he truly believes in and the pressures of politics seem worlds away. His waistline alone is proof that filet mignon, lobster, caviar and champagne are much more pleasing to the body and soul than rubber chicken. Still, many sense it’s just a matter of time before Gore throws his hat in the ring, possibly the only person that can stop the Hillary Train.

In 1962, two years after losing by the slimmest of margins to John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon lost the California Governor’s race to Pat Brown. In his concession speech, Nixon told the gathered media that this was going to be his last press conference, and he spoke words that if, maybe not coy, had a Sherman-like quality to them: “You don’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”

Well, it was just a matter of time before we did have Dick Nixon to kick around some more because the pull of the national stage of politics was just too much. After moving to New York and making a great deal of money as a senior partner in a law firm bearing his name, Nixon spent 1966 traveling the country campaigning for Republican candidates running in Congressional elections. He rebuilt his base of support within the Republican Party. He became the candidate that could reclaim the White House for Republicans. He had “Weight.” He had “Gravitas.”

It begs the question; does Gore in 2008 now possess the gravitas that Nixon claimed eight years after his first failed attempt at the White House? Will Gore, like Nixon, have the moment when those in his Party turn their eyes toward him and say, “Hey, you know what: he lost his last time out, but right now, he looks like our best shot. He can get it back for us. He’s our guy. He’s the one for right now.” There are obviously a number of soon-to-be Democratic challengers that are going to have something to say about that, but among those challenger’s greatest question marks will be whether they themselves possess the gravitas to carry them to the finish line.

Gore is going to need much more than a campaign against global warming for Democratic voters to forget about the election of 2000 and give him another shot, and he just might have it in the war in Iraq. Since the buildup leading up to the war through today, Gore has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s planning, or lack thereof, and execution of the war. He did, however, support George H.W. Bush and the Persian Gulf War. Many Democratic voters would say he was right in both cases. This would put him at odds with John Kerry who initially supported the current war in Iraq, before changing his mind. Kerry also voted against the Resolution in 1991 regarding the Persian Gulf War. That “yes” vote for the Resolution in 2002 will also be problematic for a number of Democratic Senators who have their eyes on a run for the White House. Senators Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer voted “yes” on Resolution 114 in 2002. Senator Russ Feingold voted “no”.

Those Senators that voted in the affirmative need only remind themselves of the difficulty John Kerry had during his entire campaign against George Bush trying to explain that vote. He was never able to coherently. Who’s to say that Hillary and the rest of the gang could do any better? And Kerry’s statement “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” regarding the supplemental funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may forever keep him to just visitor status on his trips to the White House. The rest of the potential Democratic candidates, who don’t have to fret about those votes, including Mark Warner, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark and Barack Obama, will have other issues to face, including, but not limited to, do they really think they have the stuff to win a national election?
Which brings us back to Al Gore.

“I honestly believe that the highest and best use of my skills and experience is to try to change the minds of people in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world about this planetary emergency that we simply have to confront. I have no plans to be a candidate for president again. I don’t expect to ever be a candidate for president again. I haven’t made a so-called Sherman statement, because it just seems unnecessary, kind of odd to do that,” said Gore. Odd…maybe. But until the words "If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve" come directly out of Gore’s mouth, he just might find himself getting kicked to the Democratic nomination for President.


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