March 23, 2006


The New New Gore: From our April issue (full content): Five years ago, Al Gore was the much-mocked pol who blew a gimme with his stiff demeanor and know-it-all style. Today? C’mon, admit it: You like him again. (Ezra Klein, 03.21.06, American Prospect)

Since his loss, Gore has undergone a resurrection of sorts, shrugging off the consultants and the caution that hampered him during the campaign and -- aided by new distribution technologies -- evolving into perhaps the most articulate, animated, and forceful critic of the Bush administration. And now, with Democrats taking a fresh look at a man they thought they knew and speculation mounting around his ambitions in 2008, it seems that the man much mocked for inventing the Internet is in fact using the direct communication it enables to reinvent himself. [...]

It’s fitting, then, that after some hanging chads lynched his political ambitions, he returned to his roots, accepting a post at Columbia’s journalism school to teach about the intersection between journalism, his first career, and the Internet, his longstanding obsession. The class, which began in Spring 2001, was entitled “Covering National Affairs in an Information Age.” Gore’s first lecture engaged objectivity itself, challenging the journalistic trope that fairness resides in controversy and an article has to represent all sides -- no matter how marginal -- equally. Instead, Gore argued that the journalistic impulse to exalt even the most fringe views to parity in order to furnish opposing perspectives is harmful to basic accuracy. This didn’t sit well with more than a few of the wannabe reporters in the class, many of whom were aghast at the suggestion that the media should attempt to actually mediate between truth and spin. As Josh Bearman, a student in that class and now an editor at the LA Weekly, recalls it, “He stood up there challenging the entire dogma of the journalism school. First semester, you learned that objectivity was emperor, then Gore came in and told you it had no clothes.”

And along with that backlash, the old anti-intellectualism Gore experienced in 2000 made a reappearance. As Bearman tells it, “He knew more than everyone in the room. So the class basically turned against him because he was smarter than they were, and they didn’t like that. We witnessed exactly what had happened on the campaign plane in the year prior.” Gore did not return to teach the class in 2002. [...]

If the Internet is reinventing Gore, though, Gore is using its lessons to reinvent television. His October 2005 speech to the We Media conference was a tour de force, ranging from Johannes Gutenberg to Thomas Paine, Walter Lippmann to John Kenneth Galbraith, the historian Henry Steele Commager to the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas. Gore was a know-it-all, and he didn’t care if they knew it too.

Even Karl Rove isn't good enough at robotics to get this guy to run again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2006 8:39 AM

It would be like Howard Beale come to life, and way more entertaining than the "new Richard Nixon (heck, all he ever did was a three-second cameo on "Laugh-In") if the "new" Al Gore would grace the national scene by making one final run at the White House, despite his disavowal of any plans to do so earlier this week.

Posted by: John at March 23, 2006 8:45 AM

I was never impressed by Gore's intellect (Clinton's, either). I will concede they both knew a lot of factual information. Both did little with what they knew.

Posted by: Rick T. at March 23, 2006 8:52 AM

He stood up there challenging the entire dogma of the journalism school. First semester, you learned that objectivity was emperor, then Gore came in and told you it had no clothes.

Wonder what his take was -- whether the media was flubbing its responsibility to be objective, or whether objectivity was impossible, so reporting should be more subjective.

Posted by: Twn at March 23, 2006 9:18 AM


We can be fairly certain that he thinks the media is sleeping on the job. At least, with that MAN in the White House. When Gore was there, I'm sure he felt they weren't somnolent enough.

How can Klein's article spout all of Gore's name (or reference) dropping and fail to mention that George Bush did better in college than either of his opponents? After all, if you choose to have the childish fight on the turf of academic records, the numbers don't lie. I'm with Rick - except I don't even believe Gore knows the facts.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 23, 2006 9:57 AM

Gore has a take?

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 10:01 AM

"He knew more than everyone in the room"

Must have been a pretty pathetic room. Gore is intellectually mediocre, at best. Same with Kerry--if you can't coherently express a single thought, you ain't smart. GWB had the spectacular good fortune of running as the "dummy" against two "smarties". Someday the Dems & MSM will figure out the implications of that...nah, they never will. It's good to be the Stupid Party!

Posted by: b at March 23, 2006 12:37 PM

Karl Rove has been able to convince leftists like Josh Bearman that the reason they're disliked is that they're smart. If he can do convince them of something so ludicrous, getting them to recruit Al Gore to run should be easy.

Posted by: pj at March 23, 2006 1:29 PM

"He knew more than everyone in the room"

Not quite. He thinks he knows more than everyone in the room, and he's too interpersonally challenged to keep his opinion to himself.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 23, 2006 2:11 PM

I disagree with the commenters. I think Gore is smart, and what good things came out of the Clinton White House generally has his imprimatur on them.

On the other hand, his communication skills seem fairly limited - he's not a glad hander/back slapper. Some times he comes across fairly well in public speaking, but falls flat at others. Such inconsistency tends to cause people concern.

As for his comments on objectivity, read it again. He was saying that media accuracy was poor because "objectivity" was interpreted to promote fringe viewpoints by giving them more credibility than they had.

I can't believe someone said Gore is stupid because he can't coherently express a single thought, and then praised Bush who can't either.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 23, 2006 5:00 PM

It doesn't matter whether he's smart or not, he's an intellectual, that's why he can't be president and was a lousy elected official.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 5:06 PM

Chris: You need to work on either your reading comprehension or your honesty. I did not say Gore was stupid. I said he was "intellectually mediocre, at best." And I did not praise Bush, I said he was amazingly lucky in his political opponents, and the way that the media chose to portray them and him. I think Bush, Gore, & Kerry are all of pretty typical intelligence.

Posted by: b at March 23, 2006 5:12 PM

Chris; No doubt Gore is smart to at least some degree, and he's clearly well-educated. Thing is, he doesn't know it all (and neither do you or I). Gore's biggest problem is that he lacks the humility necessary to deal with other people pleasantly and effectively.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 23, 2006 8:42 PM

The surest sign of Gore's utter stupidity -- there I said it -- is his decision to hire Bob Shrum and to run against Clinton and the New Dems in 2000. Who really thought turning back the clock to 1979 would win a presidential election?

(Of course he also flunked out of divity school, but that may be a mark in his favor. Perhaps he admitted that he believed in God or something and his professors never forgave him.)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 24, 2006 1:28 AM