September 25, 2007


Run, Al, Run: If Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize, will he run for president? (Christopher Hitchens, Sept. 24, 2007, Slate)

[I]f I am right, the former vice president will then complete a year in which An Inconvenient Truth has been awarded an Oscar and he has authored a best seller. Roll it round your tongue again: an Oscar, a best seller, and a Nobel Prize in the space of 12 months or so. Not bad. And meanwhile, the field of Democratic candidates looks—how shall one put it?—a trifle etiolated. Sen. Clinton may have succeeded in getting people to call her "Hillary" and to have made them feel resigned to her front-runnership, but what kind of achievement is that? Sen. Obama cannot possibly believe, and doesn't even act as if he believes, that he can be elected president of the United States next year. John Edwards is a good man who is in politics for good reasons, but there is something about his populism that doesn't quite—what's the word?—translate.

Apart from the awards, not only could Gore claim that he had been a fairly effective senator and a reasonably competent vice president, he could also present himself in zeitgeist terms as the candidate who was on the right side of the two great overarching questions: the climate crisis and the war in Mesopotamia. Should I add that, whether or not he really won the Electoral College in 2000, he did manage to collect the majority of the popular vote? Several people, some of them well-informed, have been saying to me that Gore will wait until the Nobel committee's announcement before he makes up his mind. Should he make up his mind to run, he could alter the entire equation.

Should he make up his mind not to run, he would retrospectively abolish all the credit he has acquired so far. It would mean in effect that he never had the stuff to do the job and that those who worked and voted for him were wasting their time. Given his age and his stature, can he really want that to be the conclusion that history draws?

I am only guessing here, but I think that when Gore wakes up early and upset, he isn't whimpering about the time that the Supreme Court finally ruled against him in 2000. He is whimpering about the time in 1992 when he left the field open to Bill Clinton, a man he secretly despised. Can he really stand to watch yet another Clinton walk away with a nomination that could have been, or could still be, his? To move, then, from a consideration of elevated politics to a reflection upon the baser motives, we have to ask if Gore can possibly be content to be a "citizen" when he could still be a contender.

And if we accept him at face value and believe that he's personally affronted by the influence of special interests and the lack of concern for the environment displayed by both parties, doesn't he have to run as a Green or Independent?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2007 11:07 AM

"Should I add that, whether or not he really won the Electoral College in 2000, he did manage to collect the majority of the popular vote?"

Um, no he didn't.

Posted by: b at September 25, 2007 12:27 PM

The guy makes for a great Nixon, and would probably be just as good for the country as Tricky Dick was. And I mean that in a good way: He'd be so bad that his name would be cursed forever. Just too bad we'd have to live through it all, and take a couple of decades to clean up the mess, if ever. St.Hillary!, on the other hand, seems to be deteremined to be a modern LBJ.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 25, 2007 12:51 PM

Fascinating how everyone ignored/never found out/insists it isn't true that Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000.

That being said, if he ran as a third-party candidate I think he'd just lose again. The fact is that neither the typical American voter nor the system itself is prepared to accept a third party. The real quesiton would be, if he ran as Democrat, would his green credentials put him over the top in this election? Tough to say. Environmental issues haven't really been brought up at all in this election. I don't think it'd be a loser for him, but he'd definetly have to come up with strong policies on healthcare and the war in order to register at all with voters.

I'm still crossing my fingers for Edwards, personally. I disagree that his populism doesn't translate - it's just a message we're not used to hearing. I mean, seriously, when was the last time that any major party candidate tried to run on a populist platform? I'm sick to death of centrist democrats (Hillary) and I'm sadly certain that Obama would crash and burn in a general election against the full force of the Republican lie machine.

If Al Gore entered the race I might have to re-evaluate that. I really liked him in 2000, but, frankly, from what I've seen from him in the past 7 years, I think he's almost been more effective as a civilian than he could have been as President. Everything we like about him is that he says what he means and he says exactly what he wants to say and tells you where he stands, unequivocally. That's just unheard of in politics.

Posted by: Cat at September 25, 2007 4:04 PM

cat: Go look up "majority" in the dictionary.

Posted by: b at September 25, 2007 4:43 PM

b. you're right and it frosts me when alleged Republicans/Conservatives on TV panels just sit there like deer in the headlights when lefties make that statement.

Posted by: erp at September 25, 2007 5:27 PM

Populism is the transfer of money from those who have it to those who don't. There being none of the latter in America it's not a platform you can win on.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2007 6:03 PM

In other words, 48.38% isn't a majority:,_2000

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2007 6:11 PM

I'm still trying to figure how Hitchens thinks Gore is right on the crisis is Mesopotamia "He
played on our fears, he betrayed this country",yadda yadda

Posted by: narciso at September 25, 2007 7:12 PM


"Everything we liked about him?"

He is one of the most dislike-able politicians on the planet.

Aside from being a pathological liar, a common scold, and mean-spirited cuss, what is there to like about him?

Face it, GWB was blessed with two of the dumbest, socially gauche, effete snobs as opponents. Really, besides Richardson, who NOW on the Democrat side has any kind of like-ability index above 50% (Obama doesn't count because he is merely likable as a black guy white folks can vote for.

You have to face this too - the farther you move left, the more effete, graceless, and dis-likable you become to the American Electorate.

You need a Clinton, and your own party's center of gravity has moved such that you will never get one again.

Republican mistakes and incompetence is all you have going for you.

Posted by: Bruno at September 26, 2007 11:33 AM