Russ Feingold is a hell of a guy, but nobody knows who he is; nobody will give him lots of money that he could use to explain who he is; and even if they did, he probably wouldn’t take it. So who – really – should progressives support for President in 2008?
Well, let’s see. We need someone with a snowball’s chance of defeating Newt Gingrich’s new best friend, the warmongering front-runner. We need someone who was against the war from the beginning, but has credibility on national defense. And it would be nice to have someone with a whiff of Fate about him. For example, the last time an incumbent Vice-President lost a very close and possibly stolen election, he came storming back to win eight years later, in the midst of an increasingly unpopular war. So if you had someone like that lying around, he’d be an ideal candidate. Oh, and if you had someone with a real, big REASON to run, let’s say someone personally identified with one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced, something like, say, global warming, that would help, too …
Yeah, I know people think Al Gore ran a lousy campaign. As I recall, he started out about 20 points behind and won the damned thing, so I’m not sure how bad it really was. It’s true, certainly, that he shouldn’t have sighed during the debate and it’s true that (like Nixon) he failed to take full advantage of his ties to the popular incumbent.
But think about it. What do we need? To win on the war (and to energize progressives), we need a real anti-war candidate, not a “yes but” like the hapless John Kerry. But it has to be an anti-war candidate who’s reassuringly familiar, so voters won’t be afraid to give him the reigns during these internationally turbulent times. And we need someone with a chance of beating Hillary – and ONLY Gore has the stature to beat Hillary.
And it would be nice to have someone who actually believes in something. Russ Feingold believes in campaign finance reform; nobody cares. John Edwards believes in helping the poor, which is great; but I think the young-green thing really hurts him on the national security comfort-level front. (That said, I’ll happily support Edwards if Gore doesn’t run.)
Al Gore believes in fighting the threat of global warming ... which is, in fact, the greatest threat the human race has ever faced, with the possible exception of Hitler. If you caught his act at the Convention Center awhile back, you couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with his knowledge, his passion, his eloquence on that issue. And this time, he’d talk about it. I am convinced, watching him in the last few years, that Al really does have that “free at last” thing going. If he ran, he wouldn’t be overcoached; he’d say what he thinks. Yes, I know that global warming isn’t at the top of most voters’ lists – but it’s moving up there – and more importantly, as Lyndon Johnson said, “what convinces is conviction.” You get a guy who can talk articulately and passionately about something that voters at least vaguely know we’re all supposed to care about, people will say “Well, gosh darn it, his issue might not be my cup of tea but isn’t it refreshing to see a candidate who cares about something other than getting elected.”
I don’t agree with Al Gore on everything. Hated NAFTA. Don’t think he fought enough for Clinton’s investment agenda in 1993. (I was just reading Robert Reich’s book, “Locked in the Cabinet.”) He isn’t Paul Wellstone.
But he was against the war. Loudly, proudly, and early. He is the person, among all the people on earth, who is best suited to lead the nation that emits 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide in an effort to save the world’s coastal cities from drowning in the deluge from melted ice caps, save the world’s farmland from dying of thirst, save us all from a future of disaster and disease. And he is the only Democrat who can beat the over-calculating, pro-war, widely-hated (although I acknowledge much of the hatred is rather irrational) front-runner.
Gore’s the one.