Thursday, January 19, 2006

Inventing Himself

Robert George, after listening to Al Gore's barnstorming speech on MLK day, thinks he might have a chance to knock Hillary out of the race for the nomination in 2008, if he wants it.

I totally agree.

Al Gore needed to lose in 2000. It was the best thing that ever happened to him. This was a guy who had been groomed for the presidency since he was a little boy, sitting in Richard Nixon's lap while he presided over the Senate in which Al's father served. Going into the 2000 election, he carried the enormous weight of all those expectations, and it showed. The thing about Al Gore is that he is both smarter and more liberal then he let on during the campaign; advised to reign it in during the campaign, he came across as awkward, condescending, and incredibly fake.

And he still won the popular vote.

Once he had lost, Al Gore started to change. He was able to be himself. He grew a beard, taught college, and began giving a series of speeches; sharp, biting addresses that brought a laser beam of criticism onto the administration. He was funnier, he was a better speaker, and he wasn't afraid to let his real opinions out, be it the endorsement of Howard Dean in 2004 or opposition to the Iraq war.

The thing about Al Gore's campaign in 2000 was that his advisors were essentially right. The country wasn't ready for Gore the liberal flamethrower. After eight years of Clintonian moderation and growth, folks didn't see a need for any sort of radical change. They had forgotten how bad it can get.

Well, they've been reminded. After eight years of George Bush, the Democratic base is going to want a true believer, and the nation is going to be more open to the idea. The party went the cautious route in 2004, and went nowhere. But Gore has an added advantage in that he can run as the fire-breathing anti-Hillary in the primary, but when the big show rolls around, he can bring out that impeccable resume and sell his credentials and experience.

If Al Gore is indeed a changed man, he has a real chance in 2008. Like Nixon after his losses in '60 and '62, defeat has humanized Al Gore, taken off the know-it-all edge and given him an air of a wiser, more humble man, someone truer to himself. Plus, there is a feeling amongst at least a small part of the electorate that Al Gore was robbed the first time around, and that he handled it with grace. If he wants another bite at the apple, and no, he hasn't indicated that he does, I think that Al Gore could be a formidable candidate.

The only advice I'd offer is that he keep his more relaxed manner, that he continue to speak his mind about his actual positions, that he keep his sense of humor, and that he grow back the beard. It's hot.


Blogger Buddy Cole said...

I've always said that if the Al Gore that hosted Saturday Night Live in 2001 had been the Al Gore that ran for President in 2000, Bush wouldn't have been able to steal the election from the resulting Gore landslide.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Hunter said...

Yeah, verily (to borrow a phrase). Excellent commentary. Let's hope he does run, or gets drafted, or something, and just runs as himself. It's time for some brains in the White House.

5:11 AM  

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