Why Al Gore is the Democrat’s Best Bet in 2008

The New Republic has endorsed Al Gore for 2008.   This really shouldn’t surprise anyone.  They did the same in 2004 even thought Gore wasn’t running.  Now it’s true Gore has become the darling of the far left, but let’s not kid ourselves – he’s not the “progressive” the netroots make him out to be.  As Peter Beinart said on Scarborough Country last month, paraphrased: “He was a foreign policy hawk during the Clinton years, big supporter of the Kosovo intervention, supported the first Gulf War. He opposed the Iraq war and, in retrospect, that looks like a good decision.”

I suspect that Al Gore will be annoyed at me for writing this article. He has never so much as hinted to me that he is or will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. At most, he has been coy about the matter–as he was coy about it on television last Sunday. Still, I want to assure the reader that I have not written it in consultation with Gore at all. I haven’t even hinted to him that I am writing it. This is written out of solidarity with those political moderates and liberals who are desperate to find a nominee about whom both their minds and spirits can be intellectually sure and psychologically fervent.

The first pragmatic reason to be for Gore, then, is that he is electable. He won once. He can win again. This is not simply a slogan; it is a serious thought. I find, moreover, that there is an undercurrent of guilt around the country about the fact that the presidency was taken from him by a vote of 5 to 4, with the 5 votes coming from Supreme Court justices who, on any other matter, would otherwise have reflexively deferred on a matter of Florida votes to the power of the Florida courts whose judgment would have resulted in Al Gore being president and not George Bush. These “strict constructionists” and “originalists” suddenly turned activists. That Bush has been such a clot as a president, such a golem magnifies Gore’s stature as a thinking person with beliefs he can defend honestly and persuasively. Imagine what would be the outcome of a rematch. My guess is that if there were a poll asking voters whom they had voted for in 2000, Gore would win by a landslide. I know people who are actually ashamed of having cast their ballots for George Bush. But Gore will not be running against Bush….

…I was first for Al Gore for president when he ran in the primaries in 1988. He lost to Michael Dukakis in that year’s suicide of the Democratic Party, an ignominious campaign by a smug and utterly disconnected governor from the only state that had voted for George McGovern. Jesse Jackson was the celebrity candidate, with his hip-hop language that some patronizing folk will still tell you is eloquence. Had Al Gore been the nominee in 1988, he likely would have defeated George Herbert Walker Bush, and the nation would have been saved the grim experience of his unlikely and uncomprehending dynasty.

Let’s consider another aspect of an Al Gore (and for the matter, Hillary Clinton) presidency.  Even considering the potency of the rightwing smear machine, what could the swift boat goons drag out about Gore we haven’t already heard?  Gore and Clinton are virtually immune to the kinds of slander the GOP has perfectec because we’ve heard it all before.  Couple that with the fact that Gore and Clinton will fight back.  They proved it in the 90s.

There was a reason the Republicans suddenly backed down on their impeachment hardons. 


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