[[R A D I O]] * So, a friend of mine came up to me the other day, all excited, and proclaimed, “I’ve figured out who’s going to be the Democratic nominee in 2008: Al Gore.” He proceeded to spell out a series of reasons for the former vice president’s coming triumph, beginning with disgust at George W. Bush’s serial incompetence, moving on to the GOP congressional majority’s profligate government spending, and concluding with the fact that global warming--an issue on which Gore has become a leader, and is the theme of his highly touted new documentary, An Inconvenient Truth--is rapidly becoming a national concern. (Although Bush has repeatedly pooh-poohed the science between global warming, and evinces no interest in seeing Gore’s film, 85 percent of respondents to a recent Time magazine poll said they believe global warming is taking place, and a larger 88 percent said they’re worried that it will threaten future generations.) Couple all of that with Republican disillusionment after eight years of Dubya’s rule, a widespread public fatigue precipitated by White House scandals, and the ever-increasing unpopularity of the Iraq war (now having claimed the lives of more than 2,470 U.S. soldiers), and the odds of a Democrat winning the White House in 2008 seem particularly good--even if the Christianist conservatives who now control the Republican Party refuse to pick that calculating fence-straddler and Bush suck-up Senator John McCain of Arizona as their nominal standard bearer.
I’m not ready yet to bet the odds on Big Al to win, especially since he continues to eschew the notion of re-entering the political fray, and because there’s still the matter of getting past Hillary Clinton, should she actually decide to seek the Democratic nomination in 2008 (still an up-in-the-air matter, from what I see). But his conversation last evening with Terry Gross on the National Public Radio show Fresh Air--during which the former vice president turned business exec talked about subjects ranging from the polar ice caps melting to George W. Bush’s stunning incuriosity--convinces me that he would be a formidable candidate, and certainly an excellent president. Yes, he occasionally uses “big words” to get his points across; and yes, he can sometimes be lacking in charisma. But it’s rare that a president (like Bill Clinton or John Kennedy) can combine governing genius with personal charm and magnetism--and we’ve seen over the last six years what a mess the country can become under somebody who’s merely amiable. I would much rather have a man or woman in charge who’s a bit wooden, but whose word and judgment I can trust, and who demonstrates a foresight that our nation is sorely in the White House these days. Al Gore may just be that man. Listen to his exchange with Gross, and see if you agree.
(“Re-elect Gore 2008” button available from Café Press.)
READ MORE: “The Comeback Kid,” by John Heilemann (New York); “Born Again,” by Jonathan Freeland (The Guardian); “Lights, Cameras, Al Gore!” by Karen Tumulty (Time); “The Transformation of Al Gore,” by Richard Greene (The Huffington Post); “Al Gore Might Yet Join 2008 Contenders,” by Jackie Calmes (The Wall Street Journal); “Swift Boating the Planet,” by Paul Krugman (The New York Times).