Monday, March 16, 2015

WSJ: Some Democrats suggest dumping Hillary as the presumptive presidential nominee in favor of—wait for it—Al Gore

Gore More Years!

Would more Al boost Democratic morale?



Hillary Clinton’s handling of the State Department email scandal is causing Democrats such discomposure that some now suggest dumping her as the presumptive presidential nominee in favor of—wait for it—Al Gore.’s Ezra Klein tries to throw some cold water on the idea. “The problem with a Gore candidacy, to be blunt, is Gore,” Klein observes. He notes that the former vice president is a “wooden,” “aging” candidate with a “challenging” relationship to the press. He has “complicated” finances, though Klein doesn’t tell us exactly what that euphemism means, except to note that Gore “made an insane sum of money by selling his cable network to Al Jazeera.”

There’s more: Gore poses as an environmentalist but is in fact “a jet-setting, Davos-attending mansion dweller,” wealthier than Mitt Romney, according to a 2013 Politico report. That opens him to charges of “rank hypocrisy.” And “his personal life isn’t the storybook it once was,” thanks to his 2010 separation from wife Tipper. (Klein says they’re divorced, but at least as of last June, according to London’s Daily Mail, they were still legally married.)

Klein sums up the matter: “I don’t think it particularly likely that even if he did run for president, he would win.” He also notes that “there’s no sign that Gore has even a scintilla of interest in running for president.”

So who’s in favor of a Gore candidacy? Ezra Klein. He makes the case in that very same Vox article, which is titled “Al Gore Should Run for President.”

Weighed against the aforementioned cons are a series of practical pros. Gore has experience, having served nearly a quarter century as a member of Congress and vice president and come close to reaching the White House in 2000. He has “at least as much claim to the triumphs of the 1990s as Clinton,” he writes—referring to the Clinton who was then first lady. “He’s also won more elections than [Mrs.] Clinton—including the popular vote in a presidential campaign.” (True, though if you don’t cheat by counting 2000 as a win, his last victory without Mr. Clinton on the ticket was in 1990.) And with those complicated finances come connections that could be awfully useful in raising money for a campaign.

For Klein, however, all this is somewhat beside the point. What he really hopes Gore will give the Democrats is meaning and purpose—the ability, as Klein puts it in his lead paragraph, to “discover new dreams.” What’s wrong with the old dreams, according to Klein, is that they’ve all been realized.


Having facilely dispensed with both domestic and foreign policy, Klein asserts that “Gore offers a genuinely different view of what the Democratic Party—and, by extension, American politics—should be about.” If we give you three guesses as to what that might be, you’d end up with two left over: “Climate change is a real and growing threat to the world’s future”:
When it comes to climate change, there’s no one in the Democratic Party—or any other political party—with Gore’s combination of credibility and commitment. Bill McKibben, founder of the climate action group, calls Gore’s work on the issue “the most successful second act of any political life in U.S. history.” Perhaps that’s hyperbole, but it speaks to the regard in which Gore is held by climate activists. Though he’s been out of office for 15 years, he’s never left the climate fight. Gore has proven himself the opposite of those politicians who love the game more than they care about the issues.
No doubt Gore would be able to count on the climate-activist vote if he decided to run. That wouldn’t get him very far. A March 2014 Gallup poll found that “climate change” was “an issue that only 24% of Americans say they worry about a great deal.” That put it at No. 14 on a list of 15, with only “race relations” finishing lower at 17%. (“The quality of the environment” was No. 13, at 31%.) A majority of Americans, 51%, said they worry about the climate “a little” or “not at all.”

That poll is no outlier. A November survey by the Public Religion Research Institutefound that “Americans rank climate change last on a list of important issues,” with only 5% saying “climate change is the most important issue facing the U.S. today”:
The issue of climate change ranks behind the lack of jobs (22%), the increasing gap between rich and poor (18%), health care (17%), the budget deficit (13%), immigration reform (10%), and the rising cost of education (9%).
The institute’s poll found climate change wasn’t even the most important environmental problem: 29% named “air, water, and soil pollution,” vs. just 25% for climate—even though a 46% plurality were “climate change believers,” meaning that they assented to the claims “that the earth is getting warmer and that these changes are primarily the result of human activity.” (Twenty-five percent disbelieved the latter premise and 26% disbelieved both.)

This after decades of propaganda designed to convince Americans that, as Klein puts it, “climate change is an existential threat”—not just real and man-made but urgent. No one has been more central to that propaganda effort than Al Gore. Why should one think it would be any more persuasive coming from a presidential candidate?

Klein doesn’t seem to think it would be: “Single-issue candidacies rarely go far in American politics,” he acknowledges, “but then, Gore need not be a single-issue candidate.” He goes on to cite approvingly, among other things, Gore’s positions on Iraq and health care—the subjects whose political importance he earlier dismissed.

Of late, Klein notes, Gore’s intellectual efforts have become even more diffuse:
His most recent book, ambitiously titled The Future, runs through the six forces he believes are changing the world: a globalized network of governments and corporations he calls “Earth, Inc.”; worldwide communication technologies that are leading to the emergence of a “global mind”; massive shifts in power from West to East and from government to corporations; an economic system that too often devastates natural resources; revolutions in genomics, biotechnology, and other life sciences; and, perhaps most optimistically, the beginnings of a revolution in energy and agriculture.
Perhaps this is interesting if you like futuristic speculation, but it’s rather far afield from a political campaign. For our part, we doubt we’ll be picking up “The Future.” We read one of Gore’s earlier books, “The Assault on Reason” (2007), and we were unimpressed.

“The Assault on Reason” was a tendentiously ideological book, persuasive only to readers who equated “reason” with certain political viewpoints—including, as we recall, adherence to global-warmist doctrine and opposition to the Iraq war and various other Bush administration antiterror policies. We don’t seem to have retained our copy of the book, but this passage should give you a flavor:
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is throwing snowballs on the floor of the Capitol because he believes cold weather outside his office proves global warming a hoax. This was his rebuttal, by the way, to news that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Something has gone very wrong in American politics.
In case the date didn’t give it away, that’s not a quote from Gore’s book but from Klein’s piece urging Gore to run. Inhofe’s snowball stunt put us in mind of this, from the New York Times in June 1988:
The earth has been warmer in the first five months of this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago, and the higher temperatures can now be attributed to a long-expected global warming trend linked to pollution, a space agency scientist reported today.
Global warmists have been claiming that unpleasant weather proves their theory of climate for over a quarter-century, but somehow when those of a skeptical bent employ exactly the same logic, it’s “an assault on reason,” evidence that “something has gone very wrong in American politics.”

At any rate, that last Klein quote shows why Gore is Vox’s perfect candidate: He’s someone who knows he’s right about everything and never tires of explaining why. He wouldn’t be the first president to fit that description, but Barack Obama was young and cool.

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