Thursday, October 18, 2007

Al Gore's Political Capital -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate!! Al Gore is definitely riding a wave of profound personal popularity and respect, beyond anything he has achieved previously. Indeed, his current stature, in some ways, exceeds that of any other world figure, for many years -- maybe even generations. As Mr. Gore's political standing has grown, a grass-roots movement has coalesced and grown with it, over the past year, seeking to impel the former Vice-President to run, once again, for President. There is no more enthusiastic supporter for a Gore candidacy than me.

If, however, we are to believe his public pronouncements, Mr. Gore is more interested in realizing the objectives of his campaign to initiate action to reduce greenhouse gases and limit the consequences the of global warming. He claims to believe that he is not a very good politician or campaigner, but I believe he is skilled enough to realize that he has built-up enormous political capital, which is probably now at its useful peak. It is with this in mind, that I am proposing a way in which he can productively use that capital.

According to a diary on the Daily Kos site (by NY Populist), the leading organization in the Draft Al Gore movement ( has commissioned a Zogby poll to assess how Mr. Gore would fare in a contest against the Democratic primary candidates. If that poll shows Gore doing reasonably well, the pressure to mount a campaign will increase. Concomitantly, so will his ability to influence the race and the direction of U.S. policy, should Gore choose to flex his new-found political muscle.

Given her tremendous fund-raising, and ever-growing popularity, Hillary Clinton is looking like not only a formidable opponent in the Democratic primary race, but also seems increasingly likely to be the next President. Of course, it is still over a year before the actual election and several months before even the primaries, but Mrs. Clinton is a supremely skilled politician and is unlikely to commit the kind of stumble that could derail such a juggernaut.

Many of Gore's supporters, especially those on this site, believe Mr. Gore does not favor Mrs. Clinton's candidacy. Assuming that is true, Mr. Gore could decide to run himself, to oppose Mrs. Clinton. Some in the Draft Gore movement view him as the man who can wrest the nomination from Clinton. Others, myself included, hope for a Gore candidacy because of their belief in the man and his positive agenda. We wait for a sign or a pronouncement that he will heed the call.

With the primary windows starting to close, Gore's supporters need to consider the alternatives just as Gore needs to decide what he can best do to further his agenda. Because Mr. Gore's personal popularity is at a peak, the time for a decision is now, lest he squander the moment. If Mr. Gore is firm in his decision not to enter the fray on his own, then the next most obvious course of action would be to endorse one of the Democratic primary candidates.

Assuming Mr. Gore would favor a candidate other than Mrs. Clinton, the question to be asked is whether a Gore endorsement of one of the other challengers holds the potential to change the outcome of the race? That seems a highly dubious proposition, not least because Gore's endorsement did not prevent Howard Dean's campaign collapse in Iowa four years ago. The gap appears to be too wide, and it is hard to imagine that Gore's endorsement of another candidate would pull away enough votes from Mrs. Clinton to make a decisive difference.

What then is Gore to do with his substantial political capital? What good is all this political prestige he has accumulated, if he cannot act decisively to move the country in the direction he would most prefer? The answer is to ensure that Hillary Clinton moves in the directions that Al Gore demands for this country. That is where Gore can make the greatest impact.

Mr. Gore should meet with Mrs. Clinton to discuss the terms of a possible endorsement. Would Hillary Clinton be interested in such a meeting? Consider the curious result in recent polling that has her in a virtual dead heat against Giuliani, despite significant preferences for a Democratic candidate. Given that dynamic, I would think that Sen. Clinton would be anxious to rally her base.

Moreover, the Clinton campaign must be anxious about the former Vice-President's plans, since the newest polls suggest that Gore may be a more popular candidate than Senator Clinton. Until and unless Gore rules out a run of his own, Mrs. Clinton will be running in his very large shadow. Mr. Gore's early support for her candidacy could go a long way towards uniting the party behind this likely nominee. It might also influence independents to support her candidacy.

If an endorsement from Gore is strong enough and memorable enough, it might even swing over a few Republicans -- those who are disenchanted with their own party, but still hold an unfavorable image of Mrs. Clinton, formed through the prism of the years of her husband's presidency. No doubt, there are a number of Republicans who might want to atone for supporting George Bush 8 years ago. If Gore were in the race, he might get their votes. However, he might also convince them to support another Clinton, the second most obvious antidote to the Bush years. A Gore endorsement at this time would surely cause a reexamination of Mrs. Clinton, and might kick some more momentum her way. A little momentum, after all, can have a snowballing effect on a candidate's popularity.

So, Al Gore would be in a position to exert some influence on Hillary Clinton, in exchange for a ringing endorsement. Gore should extract promises from her to pursue certain objectives. He should insist that Clinton publicly commit herself to aggressively pursue the two or three major policy initiatives that Mr. Gore is most determined to see enacted into law. He should take the measure of the woman and get her to pledge on record that she will cooperate fully in his efforts to cut back on human-generated climate change. If there are other issues that he wants moved to the forefront of her agenda, he should seek to get some commitments there, as well.

Then, Gore should make a statement (sort of a "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Hillary Rodham Clinton" thing) to the American people -- and I humbly suggest it should read something like this:

"My fellow Americans, I stood before you seven years ago, seeking your votes for my own candidacy to be President. A record number of Americans did give me their votes, but in the end it was George Bush that took the Oath of Office. Over these last seven years, the current Administration has governed from a blind faith in an unreasoning, deeply flawed ideology -- against all evidence, logic, science, and reason -- even against the constitutional traditions of our country. They have struggled against the laws of nature, and the laws of man. They have not changed direction even when all evidence and logic would compel any reasonable person to do so. They have ignored the lessons of their own errors, and it has cost this country deeply.

It has cost us our standing in the community of nations. It has cost us the respect that we earned over generations with our commitment to the rule of law, and our efforts to work with other nations to solve the problems that confront all of us. It has cost us lives, as thousands of brave young men and women have died for a misbegotten cause, and it has severely damaged our efforts in the struggle against the terrorists that seek to impose a totalitarian ideology upon the Islamic nations.

Perhaps most dangerously, it has cost us years that were more important then of us realized at the time, in the race to stop climate change. Many lives were lost here due to a powerful storm, and the powerlessness of the government's response, and still the dangers went unheeded. Now, leading climatologists are telling us we may already have reached the crucial tipping point. Reason tells us it is time for action -- that it has become too costly to wait any longer. Still, that is all this Administration seems intent on doing.

We cannot wait. We need action. Many Americans know this. People all around the world know this. I have spent the years since the 2000 election leading a personal campaign to increase awareness of the danger, and to insist on action. In October, the Nobel Prize committee acknowledged the seriousness of this cause by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize -- shared by the United Nations panel of committed scientists, and myself. It is, without a doubt, the greatest personal honor I could receive. However, this recognition does not mark the end of this campaign. It just makes it all the more important to seize the moment and generate the needed momentum to act.

I have just finished a very profound discussion with Senator Clinton regarding this issue and other issues that concern me today. I came to the Senator because she is in a unique position. I also came because she is one of the most talented political leaders of our time. I have the greatest respect for her husband, whose administration I was privileged to serve for eight productive years. Bill Clinton's appetite for and knowledge of issues became legendary. However, I can say that the Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, is more than his equal in this regard. There is no person more dedicated to public service, more interested in government and policy, and more committed to changing the direction of our country -- getting this country back on the track we were on 8 years ago.

I have discussed how the Senator and I can work cooperatively to promote a new agenda for this country, especially in the area of reversing climate change. She understands the importance of acting, and I am pleased by the commitments on policy that she expressed in our meeting.

I understand that a lot of people believe this is a moment of great consequence for the country and for the world. I understand why so many have rallied to insist that I enter the Democratic primary race. I am humbled and flattered by their support. I stand here today, though, to say that Senator Clinton also understands how important this moment in history really is. I stand here today to tell you I believe there is no person as prepared or as qualified to lead this country as President over the next eight years. As I stand here, I want to tell you, as well, that I believe Senator Clinton is more prepared and better qualified to be President than any candidate in a very long time. She is a skilled politician, a woman who commands respect everywhere she has been, because she is so capable, and so dedicated. She is, without a doubt in my mind, the right person for these times.

Anyone who knows her can tell you she is a woman of great personal faith. She also knows how important the office of President is, how influential. She knows that the President must demand evidence, must follow logic, and insist on the rule of law and the rule of reason. We cannot afford to have a President who insists on being unreasonable. With the problems we face today, the time is growing short to make a difference. Hillary Clinton will make a difference, and that's exactly what we need now.

I have the utmost respect for the other candidates in the race, I have worked with some of them in the Senate, and I have met the others since. I wholeheartedly support the agenda that John Edwards has been campaigning for, and he is the most forceful advocate for those issues I have ever heard. Barack Obama is an incredibly talented leader, and I am confident that voice will be among the most important of his generation and that his message of a new politics will carry the day -- his time is coming. Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson -- they are all leading lights, dedicated public servants, committed to bringing about needed changes for America.

I would gladly support any of these men, if they were to win the nomination. However, I stand here today to offer my support now to Hillary Clinton because I believe she is the right person to lead America for the next four years.

Eight years ago, I tried to offer America a choice. If I had the political skills that Senator Clinton has, I believe I would have become President. As I said, I am flattered that so many people want me to run again. I am involved in a different campaign now - maybe one that is better suited for me. It is a time for a new direction for this country and Hillary Clinton is the woman to lead us on the path."

I still hope that Al Gore will decide to run, because I believe HE is the right person for the time, the one who best understands what the next President of the United States must do. My second choice, in this regard, would be John Edwards, because I think his policy priorities are similarly well-ordered, and he has dedicated himself to the important causes. However, I expect that Al Gore will not run, and I further expect that Hillary Clinton will emerge as the Democratic nominee, regardless of any Gore endorsement. If it matters, my record's been pretty good in this regard. My first choice doesn't always come out as the nominee, but my predictions have been spot on.

I think Gore can do an awful lot of good by sitting down with Mrs. Clinton and getting some policy commitments from her. I'm not as engaged on the issues as Al Gore, obviously. I wouldn't presume to suggest what policy initiatives he deems so important he could trade his endorsement. However, I believe that, if he is not going to run, the moment is ripe for such a meeting -- it might even be imperative. This diary is offered to recommend that course of action, but only if Mr. Gore will not run himself. And, also to suggest what Mr. Gore might wish to say in such a hypothetical endorsement. That, and nothing more. That said -- I say Run, Al. Run!


Anonymous said...

Fisch, this is Qinkilla on DailyKos...Look, I respect what you've done for the campaign and throughout your career. You are very clever, and I assume you're a particularly capable lawyer. You know the base point I was trying to make. I went about it with poor word choices, and we both did some attacking. The sad thing is, like I posted, we'd probably have a great discussion about politics. You must have an incredible perspective to offer from the legal for me, I'm studying for my PsyD in Clinical Psychology - that's how I tend to examine issues and topics. I didn't post to make enemies or have a fight...I wanted the same conversation I've gotten from the Kos so many times. People discussing things rationally and agreeing to disagree. It's corny, I know, but I feel a bit bad about the whole thing. I'm not going to apologize for my opinion, but if I insulted you, it wasn't my intention.

That being said, I've read through some of your posts, and I've enjoyed them. I think you'd probably enjoy many of mine, except this last one of course. I wish you the best, and Democrats the best - I just hope, if it happens that Dems aren't doing their jobs, we will get a better candidate in. Yes, putting a republican in there as an example was stupid, but I felt I quickly tied it to my point - in that I think Dennett should at least be discussed.

As for changing the world, I'm all for that. I get chills listening to Obama speak. It's like I was just about to give up on politics, and Barack comes along to show us the best that human beings have to offer. I think that expecting all dems to be like Obama is wishful thinking to some extent, but I'd be thrilled to see it happen.

Anyway, all the best to you and thank you for your campaign work and involvement. Hopefully we can have a discussion another time about another issue with a different climate.


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