Friday, May 18, 2007

Gore's stealth campaign growing slightly less stealthy

I mentioned a while ago that I thought that Al Gore would make another run for the Presidency. The worshipful tone of this Time magazine cover story would incline me to double down my bet. If I had made a bet.

Let's say you were dreaming up the perfect stealth candidate for 2008, a Democrat who could step into the presidential race when the party confronts its inevitable doubts about the front runners. You would want a candidate with the grass-roots appeal of Barack Obama—someone with a message that transcends politics, someone who spoke out loud and clear and early against the war in Iraq. But you would also want a candidate with the operational toughness of Hillary Clinton—someone with experience and credibility on the world stage.

In other words, you would want someone like Al Gore—the improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet with an army of followers and huge reserves of political and cultural capital at his command. There's only one problem. The former Vice President just doesn't seem interested. He says he has "fallen out of love with politics," which is shorthand for both his general disgust with the process and the pain he still feels over the hard blow of the 2000 election, when he became only the fourth man in U.S. history to win the popular vote but lose a presidential election. In the face of wrenching disappointment, he showed enormous discipline—waking up every day knowing he came so close, believing the Supreme Court was dead wrong to shut down the Florida recount but never talking about it publicly because he didn't want Americans to lose faith in their system. That changes a man forever.

It changed Gore for the better. He dedicated himself to a larger cause, doing everything in his power to sound the alarm about the climate crisis, and that decision helped transform the way Americans think about global warming and carried Gore to a new state of grace. So now the question becomes, How will he choose to spend all the capital he has accumulated? No wonder friends, party elders, moneymen and green leaders are still trying to talk him into running. "We have dug ourselves into a 20-ft. hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder. Al's the guy," says Steve Jobs of Apple. "Like many others, I have tried my best to convince him. So far, no luck."
I'm starting to feel a draft. A prophet with grass-roots appeal, transcendent message, charismatic, dedicated, toughness, discipline, experience, credibility, and in a state of grace. All he needs is the white horse. Most of the encomia above (and that's just the first three paragraphs!) are matters of opinion, but the statement about the Academy award is just wrong. Doesn't Time bother to check facts any more? Davis Guggenheim and Melissa Etheridge won the Oscars. That's the only checkable statement in the quoted passage (aside from the Nobel Prize nomination, but anyone can be nominated), and it's wrong.

In Gore's view, "the Supreme Court was dead wrong to shut down the Florida recount" only because he was losing. That recount was done over several times by different agencies, with Gore losing every time. What I imagine he had in mind was something more like the recounts in the gubernatorial race in Washington state in 2004, as documented here: November timeline, December timeline. In other words, keep on recounting until you win, then stop.

But the Supreme Court did shut down the recount. Gore tried something similar to a job for a while, teaching journalism at Columbia. For one semester in 2001. But being in the classroom meant being off the big stage, out of the public eye. Since then, he has returned to pursuits suited to a Senator and Senator's son, as a director of Apple (see Steve Jobs, above), chairman of the board of Generation Investments (his own carbon offsets firm), and president of Current TV. (Is this a channel like Oxygen, that the newspapers write about now and then, but no-one actually watches? Oh dear, I just took a look at the CurrentTV website. I wish I hadn't done that.) And movie star and author of a new book, release of which occasions the Time piece quoted above. Tellingly, the book is titled The Assault on Reason. Gore likes to present himself as the smart one in the room, the one who knows better, thus the embodiment of reason. An assault on reason, then, is an assault on Gore, which places him in the favored Lefty role of victim. So it's reasonable for him to be intolerant of the dissenters to his program, who are assaulting reason by disagreeing with him:
We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth.
This sounds like someone whose mind is made up. Well, it is. He's told us so. It also sounds like someone whose idea of science is based on precious little other than argument from authority. And, since he gets to decide which studies are pseudo (pay no attention to that broken hockey stick!) and is clearly the only one who can uncloud our ability to see the truth, there must be nothing to these observations by John Derbyshire at NRO:
And if you think Al Gore’s nutty preoccupation with what he calls “the climate crisis” is going to turn people off, you’re not paying attention. Global warming is not just a new fad for liberals and the liberal-inclined; it’s also a welcome refuge from the previous fad, “diversity,” just as that previous fad is starting to grow fungus and smell bad.

The Left always needs a Grand Cause, and global warming is a perfect fit for the liberal mentality. It allows you to feel good without actually inconveniencing yourself overmuch, demands massive new government powers and corresponding taxation, is open-ended enough to, in theory, go on forever, makes capitalism look bad, and offers endless opportunities to feel warm throbs of guilt while gazing on pictures of poor, dark people suffering pitiably in remote places.

Al knew all that before you did. He’s a smart cookie. He has a fine presidential jaw, massive celebrity support, full campaign experience, tens of millions of aggrieved supporters who feel they were swindled out of their last shot at a Gore presidency, and the ability to swiftly gin up lotsa cash.

Dum dum da-dum dah de-deedle-dardle dum dum (That’s “Hail to the Chief”). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next president of the United States: Al Gore!
Update: More on the book, with video, at Hot Air. A commenter there noticed that the title of the book could be taken in the way it was no doubt intended, or as a label: the latter interpretation would make the book itself the "assault on reason."

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