Tomorrow (Friday) is Nobel Peace Prize day -- the day that Gore-illas hope will launch the man who "used to be the 'next President of the United States'" on a quest to win, once again (and this time for keeps), the Presidency of the United States. If you're a reader of the Daily Kos (where I am cross-posting this essay), I'm sure you have not missed the deluge of Gore-love paean diaries, proclaiming our hopes for a new Presidential run by the former Vice-President.
Just for review, though: How do I love thee, Al Gore? Let me count the ways!
First: Everyone is always talking about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it!
Many of us fear that every other issue in this campaign is almost meaningless if we don't do something soon about global warming. For us, Al Gore represents the last best hope. Other politicians may say some of the right things about climate change peril, but Gore has lived the cause. A President Gore will be committed to moving heaven and Earth to do something about climate change and greenhouse gas production.
Second: "He's my Commander-in-Chief" vs. "Bernie, thank God George Bush is our President."
Astute readers will recognize the first quote as Gore's perfectly-struck note of unity, offered after the attacks of September 11th. They may also recognize the other quote as Rudy Giuliani's declared recollection of his comment to Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, when he realized New York was under attack.
Al Gore was no weak sister, when it came to Saddam Hussein. Gore was reputed to be the strongest proponent within the Clinton Administration of a more aggressive stance toward Iraq. Yet, in 2002, Gore understood that a war on Iraq would be a terrible distraction and counter-productive to the struggle against militant, terrorist groups. He was right on Iraq -- and for all the right reasons.
Gore may lack John Kerry's Bronze Star and Purple Hearts, but on this issue, he has the right credentials. He can make the best case for a new direction in the struggle that consumed this country on September 11th -- actually refocusing our efforts where they need to be.
Imagine this scenario next September, or October: Al Gore will get on the stage to debate against the Republican nominee, Rudy Giuliani. Gore will remind America that he loyally and enthusiastically supported Bush's decision to move against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Without rehashing whether the Bush Administration could have prevented the attacks, Gore can still remind America why Bin Laden is still at large. More importantly, he can ask Americans if we are as thankful as Giuliani claimed to be that George Bush has been President these last 7+ years.
Heck, Gore can even put the question rhetorically to Giuliani, as to whether he's still thankful that Bush, and not Gore was President. Is this a trap to be avoided? I'm sure Giuliani would have a glib answer already prepared, but Gore can win this debate. He can tell the American people what things he would have done the same as Bush, and what he would have done differently. He can describe how things would be better now. Finally, he will lower the boom on Giuliani, when he asks Americans to answer for themselves whether they are thankful these days that George Bush was the President for nearly the last 8 years.
I ask, rhetorically, "Is there anyone else that can ask those same questions, with the same impact as Al Gore?" Of course not!
Third: Restoring the Pride! A Nobel Prize Winner before taking office -- How cool is that!?!
Unlike Woodrow Wilson, who won the Nobel Prize near the end of his second term in office (and Jimmy Carter who won the award two decades after his term), Gore may already have this extraordinary honor to his name before he ever announces. As I write this, the 'net is rife with rumors that Gore is headed to Oslo or Stockholm for the announcement. Even if the Peace Prize goes to someone else, Al Gore could bring something to the office of President that no one else could. No American has ever begun a Presidency with the degree of international regard and respect that Al Gore commands.
No other person could reestablish the international credibility and prestige of the office as swiftly and surely as Al Gore -- both by dint of the world-wide respect he has gained, and the radical change of vision an Al Gore Presidency would represent. With Albert Gore at the helm of our ship of state, we would no longer have a "We're America -- Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!" attitude." A Gore Presidency would mean an America that understands its policies have to change in order to account for the needs and concerns of other countries.
So much of what has gone wrong the last seven years -- including the disdain even our friends have for us, and the despair and disgust most Americans feel when they think of their government -- would change dramatically on the day Al Gore takes the Oath of Office. The challenges that would lie ahead: ending the war in Iraq; reviving American economic strength; reducing the deficit; climate change, of course -- tackling these challenges would seem possible because we would have someone in the office committed to solving these crises.
Al Gore is uniquely positioned to ask the Ronald Reagan question: "Are you better off than you were 8 years ago?" How many would answer yes? To use the pollsters’ favorite question: How many could say this country is headed in the right direction? If George Bush has the country headed in the wrong direction, who is the obvious choice to get us moving in the right direction? Al Gore!
Fourth: Look! Up In the Sky! or A Man of Action Proves Caring is Cool
When Brownie, and the rest of the federal government couldn't figure out how to get into New Orleans and help, Al Gore did something. He took a plane into New Orleans and brought out people who needed attention which they could get elsewhere, making the demands on the local hospitals somewhat more manageable. Isn't that the image we want of our President, not some contorted photo-op on a carrier outside San Diego Harbor?
The resemblance to Superman is uncanny...but he makes caring cool, too.
Fifth: The Rock Star
Al Gore isn’t just another candidate. He may lack some personal charisma, but he’s achieved something grander with his celebrity. His magnetism is based on his ideas, and his dedication to the cause. People believe and trust Al Gore now. The nonsense about the Internet and Love Story can’t hurt him now. He’s established a level of credibility on issues that no other candidate, Democrat or Republican, can approach, or besmirch. He’s not a Teflon candidate – he’s better. He’s become a brutally honest one. We believe Al Gore, because he’s willing to risk ridicule in order to speak painful, even terrifying truths.
Sixth: Second Chances
America has often been the land of second chances and second acts -- where redemption is possible. A second chance to make amends, and set right what went so horribly wrong 8 years ago. Not for Al Gore's sake. For our own sakes, a second chance for America.
Finally: No more 'Mourning in America'
O.K. I could list a lot more reasons for this hope against hope, but brevity is beautiful. Remember that it's always darkest before the dawn. Al Gore wants to bring an end to the 'assault on reason' -- bring an end to the dark madness of faith-based politics, by shining the light of reason. It's been a long night in the wilderness. Soon, it could be "Morning in America" -- with a President Gore.