Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Gore Zeitgeist

Al Gore makes me crazy.

He is an eminently decent man in an era when our political waters are infested with sharks.

He cares deeply about our future at a time when too many politicians are concerned only about their next fundraiser.

But Al Gore blew his chance to be president in 2000 not because he got robbed in Florida and again in the U.S. Supreme Court, which is true, but because he ran a campaign so awful that this bitter outcome was all but inevitable. (In the interests of full disclosure, I reluctantly voted for Ralph Nader because I didn't think Gore had earned my vote. Neither did John Kerry earn my vote in 2004, but I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.)

Having gotten that off my chest, I reprint here excerpts from a beautifully thoughtful post by the Highway Scribe on Mr. Gore over at his HighwayScribery blog:
On the first Tuesday in November of 2000, the scribe was on the verge of his moment.

The scene was the Stonewall Democratic Club on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood and the moment was presaged by the announcement that Al Gore had just taken the State of Florida.

The room exploded because, well, that was really it, Gore was going to win. the scribe turned to hug someone and there was this Asian-American guy with spiked hair and an earring standing there, so he hugged him, good and hard.

Usually, and for most of us, presidential candidates hail from a distant world and formation, but in Al Gore the scribe saw a kindred spirit: an annoying liberal White Boy who wore his intellect on his sleeve. A verbal, over-informed know-it-all whose help the world clearly needed (but didn’t want).

The photo above is one of the scribe’s favorites from that campaign. It is the writer/vice president penning his own nomination acceptance speech, something highwayscribery believes should be a requirement of all public office holders.

We like like-minded people leading us, because they take us where we already want to go.

. . . Of course, the "moment" was not to be, but highwayscribery has never hidden its warmth for the former veep, and we are given to airing his occasional pronouncements as important.

Anyway, sometimes things are not meant to be, but for a good reason.

Here’s an article from the "Washington Post" about Gore’s current obsession, which was his past obsession too, and how he is serving others without having to fly around in a big plane with a fighter jet escort.

Titled, “A Campaign Gore Can’t Lose,” Richard Cohen’s column focuses on Prince Albert of the Tennessee Valley’s latest salvo in the global warming debate, a documentary film marketed as “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The particulars of the film, which in Cohen’s estimation is terribly frightening, won’t be gone into here. Suffice it to say, and borrowing from the columnist himself, our Earth is “in extremis” and Katrina is just the beginning of what will be happening to seaside cities and low-lying coastal regions in years to come.

But here’s the paragraph we like most, because it rings true and shows how time can clarify things and come around to know-it-all, self-styled intellectuals people get annoyed listening to:

“You cannot see this film and not think of George W. Bush, the man who beat [ahem] Gore in 2000. The contrast is stark. Gore – more at ease in the lecture hall than he ever was on the stump – summons science to tell a harrowing story and offers science as the antidote. No feat of imagination could have Bush do something similar – even the sentences are beyond him.”

And that’s very true, the deeper point being such was the country’s state of mind in 2000. Now we are someplace else collectively, which is why Al Bore is on the cover of “Vanity Fair” this month, and George W. Bush is on the sole of your shoe.

. . . Doing for his country and the world. Helping. That should be a new road to our presidency. Early in life, (not 18 months before) you start out helping the homeless guy around the corner with a meal now and then. You volunteer at the animal shelter. Then you organize a beach cleaning mission made up of your neighbors. And your circles or waves of mutual assistance move concentrically outward, catching on with others so that one effort, started earlier, merges with a different one started after, and so on until your use to the country is indisputable, measurable by something other than how much money you can raise for paid political spots.

. . . The highway scribe is probably kidding himself in this identification. After all, Gore was a senator’s son and went to Harvard. the scribe . . .didn’t go to Harvard. Gore has spent his life in public service; the highway scribe gorging his mind on imagined and stylized stories.

But what is a hero, save for someone you can only emulate and aspire to replicate in action?


plshark said...

Er... "John" Kerry? Bob Kerry (former NE Gov & Sen) did run in '00, but I don't know if he ran in '04.

Shaun Mullen said...

Thanks for pointing out the error. I got my Viet vet war heroes mixed up.

the highway scribe said...

Looks great. I should have sent it into you for an edit before running it. But, of course, isn't that blogging?

Cassidy said...

I think saying that Al Gore "ran" his own campaign is being a bit hard on the guy. Yes, he may have chosen the wrong people, I can't put the full blame on him.

I think Gore was a guy like me, who desperately wants everyone to like him and is terrified of making someone not like him. That is his biggest drawback as a person.

Shaun Mullen said...

Gore gets ALL the blame as a candidate just like Bush gets ALL the blame as president.

Gore was controversy adverse, not exactly a reason to vote for him and a big reason that I didn't. He was afraid that allowing Bill Clinton to campaign for him would dirty his sheets. It was a huge miscalculation. Monicagate notwithstanding, Clinton remained hugely popular, especially in the very black communities where Gore needed high turnouts. That included . . . Dade County, Fla.

Gore had his chance. He blew it. But as the Highway Scribe noted, he hasn't stopped trying to give to his country -- even if he didn't do a good enough job of convincing his fellow Americans to make him president. That matters a lot.