Thursday, March 22, 2007

Presidential Politics (On Al Gore and John Edwards) -- I wanted to comment on the events of the last couple of days. On Wednesday, Al Gore had one of the more remarkable days any former losing Presidential candidate ever had. He took his mission, leading the fight to reverse global warming, to Capitol Hill. Testifying before a House committee in the morning, and a Senate committee in the afternoon, he suffered the slings and arrows of the ignorant and incredulous Republican opposition. As Gore argues, this shouldn't be a partisan issue. Most Republicans would agree. However, those Republicans, like James Inhofe, who have been bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry, couldn't resist playing politics.

Inhofe tried to get Gore to pledge to use no more energy than the average American. This was a shameless ruse. The fact is Gore already conserves more energy than the average American. The Gores use fluorescent bulbs throughout their home. They have fought to have the local community change rules to allow them to install solar panels, which they are now putting in. They pay a premium for "Green Energy" -- renewable, carbon neutral power. Considering that Al Gore runs two businesses from his home, with significant numbers of staff -- perhaps even a shadow Presidential campaign -- his power usage will certainly be higher than the average American homeowner. Inhofe's gambit was a cheap, meaningless ploy -- unfortunately, we haven't heard the last of this bogus line of attack.

Inhofe also put up a list of a hundred or so "scientists" that purportedly do not accept Gore's premise that global warming has been caused by human activity. The fact is the only meta analysis shows an unwavering scientific consensus on this point. Reviewing approximately 25% of the available literature, the study authors found that there is not one single study or academic paper that challenges the premise that the Earth's climate is changing because of human activity. Not a single article or study that offers any evidence to challenge the premise. This is a spectacular degree of scientific consensus that is rarely achieved on any question. The scientific debate is finally over on this question -- the real political question is what are we going to do to try and save this planet?

I say this is an example of Presidential politics for two reasons. First: Gore hasn't ruled out the possibility of running. I'm part of a movement that thinks Al Gore would be the best candidate for these times. We will hold out hope for his entry into the campaign, until and unless he rules it out -- or until it becomes too late for him to gain the nomination. The second reason: The Republicans, including Inhofe, clearly fear Gore's candidacy, and take every opportunity to take their potshots at him. To them, this was Presidential politics, even if Gore isn't running.

One other reason why the debate smacks of Presidential politics is that the Democratic nominee may take up the cause, even if it's not Al Gore -- especially if the nominee turns out to be John Edwards. The former VP candidate, Edwards, has the clearest agenda of any of the candidates. One of his top priorities is the effort to combat global warming. Earlier this week, Edwards' campaign issued an action plan that adopts many of Gore's own planks, and adds the goal of moving the U.S. to 30% renewable energy production by 2020.

Edwards is a fundamentally decent guy, which I think everyone could see during the press conference today. He is also personally courageous, and dedicated to the cause of his campaign -- not for personal ambition, but because he believes in the goals he has set out: Universal Health care, withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq, aggressive efforts to curtail greenhouse gas production, bolstering the middle class, and a renewed effort to lift all Americans out of poverty.

As for the Senator's wife, Elizabeth Edwards: I've had the pleasure of talking with her briefly, after her husband's speech at the DNC winter meeting. It was obvious that she adores her husband, but also admires and respects him. More to the point, she is devoted to the cause, perhaps even more than her husband, if that is possible. She had the enthusiasm of the true believer. She wants to win, because she believes that John is the right man for the job. She was thrilled that his speech was so well-received and so well-delivered. It's no wonder that she is so universally liked -- even more popular than her husband.

Obviously, it was terribly disheartening to hear the news that Elizabeth's cancer had metastasized. The couple's optimism was encouraging. Most of all, I was heartened by their continued dedication to the campaign. Certainly, they are right to continue. She will have to live with cancer, but there is no reason to stop living. I hope people will be as accepting of this truth as they are.

The announcement that the Edwards' campaign will continue was also personally very encouraging. I prefer John Edwards to any of the other candidates. Bill Richardson has the experience to lead the country, as does Chris Dodd. Barack Obama is an exciting new persona, who can inspire the voters. Even Hillary Clinton would be a decent President. For me, though, John Edwards is the best candidate in the race. With any luck, John and Elizabeth Edwards will serve this nation as its First Couple for eight, successful years. While I hold out some hope that Al Gore might yet enter the race, I wholeheartedly support Edwards' candidacy. America: Take another look at John and Elizabeth Edwards. I think you'll find a great future President and First Lady.

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