There really is nothing else anyone can say this morning. Gore Obama. Not Obama Gore, but Gore Obama.
Al Gore should first of all be congratulated for winning the award for his work on global warming. I’m not a scientist, so I cannot personally vouch for the accuracy of his claims, but I believe his fundamental point: that he is backed by the vast majority of credible scientists. And whatever the vast majority of credible scientists believe about matters of science – not theology, not politics, but science – is what I believe. Who am I to argue with them?
Al has fought the good fight in order to save our planet, and his recent work on climate change has been the culmination of decades of passion as an environmentalist. That’s what is really impressive here. This isn’t just a politician who latches onto an idea that happens to be the right idea for his time. He’s a national politician who has focused on a particular set of problems for most of his adult life, and has actually succeeded in transforming the world’s consciousness in this area. How rare is that? Combine that fact with the undeniable truth that this man won the majority vote in his “democracy’s” Presidential election and yet didn’t win the Presidency, and you have a guy who truly deserves all the rewards he’s now receiving … and then some.
So yes, let’s congratulate Al. But once the congratulations are over, once the applause dies down, then what? Was yesterday’s award just another opportunity for Fat and Happy Al to take another walk on the red carpet? Or will he be able truly to leverage that award into real power – power to fight global warming on a massive scale, and to tackle some of the other enormous problems facing our country (like our health care crisis)?
Nobody knows the answers to those questions. But those are precisely the questions that everyone who isn’t a complete right-wing ideologue has got to be asking.
Oh yeah. There is one more question. Assuming we agree that Al needs to leverage his award to gain power, how best does he do it? Does he remain an unofficial “ambassador” for the environmental movement? In that capacity, he can roam around the world, giving speeches and earning bazillions. Maybe he can make another movie. I bet Spielberg would be willing to direct it, and they could get any actor in
But is that real power? When you look at Sharpton and Jackson, for example, you see two people who find themselves constantly in the news and who have undeniably made a difference on certain issues – such as the firing of Don Imus. But have they really made the kind of impact on the African-American condition that is fundamentally transformative? I don’t think so. If you want transformative, there’s only one tried and true way: take over the White House.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the current occupants. Say what you want about Bush Cheney, but there’s no debate that they’ve made their presence felt. Saddam is gone, Uday and Qusay are gone, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are gone, several thousand Americans are gone, and hundreds of billions of American dollars are gone. I call that an impact.
And it’s not just Bush and Cheney who have “leveraged” the power of the Presidency. Look at Ronald Reagan. He helped tear down the Iron Curtain (yeah!), though he also helped foster massive economic inequality. Once again, though, the issue isn’t whether he did a great job or a horrid one, but did he wield real power, not just red-carpet-like status. And the answer, unquestionably, is yes.
If Al wants power, then, he ought to try to seize it from within. He doesn’t have to be President – Cheney isn’t – but he needs to dominate the agenda of the White House. From that perch, a person can do so much in so many different ways, especially if he is focused. Reagan was focused. Cheney has been focused. And Al appears to be focused – or at least he was focused before he became fat and happy.
According to the conventional wisdom, Al won’t run. One after another, party insiders are quoted in the media saying things like Al recognizes that “Democrats are happy with the candidates they’ve got” and don’t need another in the race.
Are we now? Are we really that happy? Even Barack Obama has acknowledged that Hillary Clinton has become the “default candidate.” So it’s safe to say that the only Democrats who are happy with the status quo are those who want to see Hillary elected President. And is that really part of the formula for Al Gore to leverage his new found fame?
Just think about what we’d have if
Al has one opportunity to make the kind of impact that Dick and Ronald have made, and that is to go for the White House … and this time, not as
Today, the moment belongs to one of two people. Not Barack. Not Guiliani. But Gore or