Friday, June 29, 2007

Assessing the Goracle

What follows is more gamesmanship than serious political argument. If a democrat loses the White House in '08, people like me will be blamed for it. Gore's a hack, sure. But it's important to understand why many progressives, and even a few aspiring socialists, will vote for him. He looks good pragmatically and, if you put on some rose-colored glasses, he even starts to look good ideologically. I think he can win the general election.

Gore is in a lot of corporate interests' back pockets, and has a pretty sordid history of supporting systems that hurt working people (issues I will explore here in the near future). But let's see what the progressive pollyana argument about him really is... It begins with a piece by Ted Daley--a smart left-democrat activist with loads of experience, including working for the Rand Corporation (ouch) and serving on the staffs of Alan Cranston and Dennis Kucinich. His case for the merits of a Gore presidency is indeed rather rose-colored, but his confidence that Gore can win is not, in my opinion, misplaced. On the question of Gore's electability, Daley writes:

there is one more asset that Al Gore brings to the table. Something unique only to him. In 2000 --even with Ralph Nader siphoning 2.8 million votes from just over 100 million ballots cast -- the sitting vice president still beat the sitting governor of Texas nationwide by more than half a million votes. In addition, a great deal of evidence indicates that more Floridians tried to vote for Al Gore than for George Bush -- which means, of course, that Gore actually won in the Electoral College as well.But, at least according to five Supreme Court justices, George Bush won and Al Gore lost. That means that millions of Americans, even many who might not necessarily adore the former vice president, hold a rough recollection that in 2000, Al Gore had something taken away from him that he rightfully earned. And deserved. And won. And that is why the "RAG" bumper sticker, in itself, will be worth ten million votes next time around, for this candidate and this candidate alone. First in the primaries, then again in the general election.What is the "RAG" bumper sticker? "RE-ELECT AL GORE."

Pretty optimistic, Ted. But realistic? I think so. Keep in mind I won't vote for Gore and people like me will be blamed if he gets robbed again... But yesterday's AP reported that "A New Hampshire presidential poll by WHDH-TV and Suffolk University shows that local Democrats prefer Al Gore to any of the current contenders ... Al Gore ... could enter the race as the leader. When his name is added, Clinton loses more than a quarter of her support, while Gore is backed by 32 percent."

Here's what Gore has that I think establishes a higher level of "charisma" than any of the other democrats; I'll address only Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.

1. Moral capital from the 2000 election. Nobody else has it, obviously. He's handled the debacle amazingly well, balancing acceptance with focused political anger.

2. Intellectual capital that has less of a chance being turned against him at this particular political moment than eight years ago. There's a backlash against both real preachers and the preacherly logic of neoconservatism. There's a fashionable religious liberalism movement emerging. Gore comes off as smarter and deeper than Hillary, more wise than Obama, and more broadly knowledgable than Edwards.

3. Experiential capital. He's been there but doesn't have to defend Clintonism, and his beating Sen. Clinton will simply reaffirm that distinction.

4. War capital. He doesn't have to take the blame for any of the Dems' inevitable stumbling on Iraq since the mid-terms. He opposed it from the beginning and was the first biggie to call Bush out for becoming a dictator. The Senate dems, and Edwards, look good compared to any Republican contenders on this issue, but they look bad compared to Gore. Oh, and Gore also has a squeaky clean record on support for Israel. Not even any clumsy photo-ops with Arab extremists like Hillary has...

Frankly, I think anyone besides Gore stands a decent chance of losing if the Republicans figured out a way to play smart rather than desperate. But Gore could beat the best, most unthinkably good Republican candidate in 08.

Gore's negatives? Please, there are no new ones. Climate change "extremism?" I suppose that might be a risk, but it's a purely defensive one: Being a warming believer doesn't COST you capital these days. At worst it's a neutral, but all the momentum is going positive. He's boring? Arrogant? Umm...none of that mattered then, and it matters even less now. Plus we know he's funny. He's the motherf****n Goracle, for hells' sake. Self-depricating humor always rules...

Is he sexy? Rection is somewhat mixed, but his looks certainly aren't a liability. Here's what a quick buddy list poll revealed:

--"U bet!"
--"not in the traditional sense, but in the nerdy sense"
--"Obama's got him beat, but yeah, I could see it"
--"i don't find al gore sexy because he put on that weight and is championing a fight against global warming."
--"not just kind of sexy...he's SEXY, even after putting on weight."
--"Obama is sexier than Gore, but Gore is sexier than Senator Clinton."

Here's the clincher, though, folks: What most people believe killed Gore in 00 was his willingness to alienate the left. I disagree that Nader "cost" Gore the election, but in any event I don't think it would happen again; Gore will be able to exploit his opponents' weaknesses in the primaries to get his lefty credentials out early and often. In the bitterest of ironies eight years after the proclamation that liberalism is dead, a liberalism that includes not sending troops to die for lies is extremely fashionable. Gore's eventual Republican opponent, whoever it is, will not be able to spin a countervision that overcomes Gore's multiple tiers of capital (see above). Next thing you know, he's in the White House...possibly for two terms.

Daley also points out that a Gore-Obama ticket will look very attractive to Obama's handlers.

Remember, all this is just speculation. I'm open to competing thoughts and predictions. And I doubt the Democratic leadership will ever make the right choices; if the dems win it will be because the repubs are extremely weak, which will be the dems' own dumbass luck. But if they suddenly get smart, they'll run this guy again, and I think he'd give any number of republican candidates a country ass whipping.

1 comment:

Andy Ellis said...

Gore is going to be the next president the question is will it be as a democrat or will he breathe never existent life into the green party? I see the race going like this, clinton obama edwards richardson down to the wire, guiliani romeny on the other side....romeny wins, bloomburg gets in, clinton wins gore jumps in, but he goes to ralph nader and says lets make a deal, you nominate me to run the top of the green ticket, and i take you and my veep....with bloomburg siphoning off gop votes and the repblicocrats not diverging from each other much at all, the race becomes between the middle the so called left and a part of the right, bloomburg could take votes away from the clinton/richardson ticket just as well as he could the guiliani rice ticket....then its gores for the pickin, and if clinton wins the nomination and gore runs against her he might get some votes from the ABC(anybody but clintons) crowd....