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Al Gore in 2004?
By Carol Devine-Molin
Is Al Gore the once and future Democratic presidential candidate? The short answer is "probably", but that's clearly subject to revision, given the political shifting sands now impacting the Democratic Party. In the aftermath of the GOP's "big win" on Election Day 2002, the Democrats are understandably seeking to revitalizing their image.
Among the emerging field of presidential hopefuls, Gore is leading, but not by much, according to a recently completed Los Angeles Times poll of the DNC membership. More significantly, the surveyed Democratic bigwigs exhibited a real inclination for change - almost half, 48 per cent thought Gore should step aside and not run again, which is somewhat shocking. Only 35 per cent of the respondents were in favor of another Gore presidential run, and 17 per cent were undecided on the issue. In essence, Al Gore is perceive as a "weak" candidate by his Party, and it's difficult to sugar-coat. Other names that the Democratic respondents looked favorably upon were Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts), Senator John Edwards (North Carolina) and Governor Howard Dean (Vermont).
Respondents overwhelmingly expressed "great affection" for charismatic former president, Bill Clinton, who is the Democratic Party's most successful fundraiser and their true leader. Yes, Terry MacAuliffe is the titular head of the Democratic National Committee, but everyone is cognizant that he is Clinton's hand-picked puppet. Bill Clinton continues to shepherd the Democratic Party and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) holds tremendous sway and popularity among Party members, as well.
Hillary Clinton would like nothing better than to run for the presidency two years hence if, and only if, she has a solid chance at winning. If President Bush looks unbeatable in the upcoming election, she clearly won't bother running. To paraphrase journalist Howard Fineman of Newsweek magazine, Bill and Hillary will only permit Gore to have the 2004 presidential nomination if it is "meaningless". Conversely, if President Bush looks vulnerable and assailable, then count on Hillary to quash Gore in a New York heartbeat, and then move heaven and earth to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.
Meanwhile, Al Gore and his wife Tipper are out and about the media circuit not only hawking the two books that they co-authored on "family", but testing the "political waters", with a view towards a 2004 presidential run. The much-criticized "stiff", "programmed", and "unlikable" Al Gore is re-inventing himself once again, and attempting to project as relaxed and personable with a winning style. He's also playing coy, claiming that he won't make up his mind about running until the year's end. Well we know that's pure twaddle, since Al Gore is biting-at-the-bit to run for the presidency again.
And Gore is eager to show off the "new Al Gore" to America. As Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post aptly notes, "On the surface, of course, it's just a book tour. But Al Gore's post-election re-emergence has been carefully choreographed as a political campaign, with a designated prime-time interviewer (Barbara Walters), morning maven (Katie Couric), Sunday host (George Stephanopoulos), cable yakkers (Larry King, Chris Matthews), newsmagazine (Time), and comedy appearance (Saturday Night Live)." Moreover, Gore is denouncing President Bush's policies at every turn, especially in the foreign affairs and economic arenas. It's no coincidence that transnational terrorism and the economy are the lead-issues of most concern to Americans. Of course, the orchestrated attacks upon Bush are key to Gore's overall "comeback" maneuvers.
But does Gore truly understand what the American electorate wants? Was he able to grasp the pivotal lesson of the GOP sweep just weeks ago? Apparently not. He is joining the chorus of inane Democrats who believe they essentially have a "communication" problem, and just need to better articulate their liberal positions and differentiate themselves from the Republicans more effectively. This is all about "sharpening the differences", as the Democrats maintain. To that I say, "poppycock".
Quite the contrary, the Democrats are missing the boat here. They have always been media-savvy, and are rather adept at conveying their message to the American people.
Rather, we have an electorate that is now rejecting the Democratic Party's agenda and their entrenched liberalism. The nation has been trending toward conservatism in recent years, seeking relief from the burden of higher taxes and bigger government. And the electorate appreciates the tax cuts of the Bush administration, which plans to expand tax cuts now that the GOP controls both houses of Congress in addition to the presidency. Furthermore, in the wake of September 11th, the populace has become considerably more sensitive to national security issues and the threat posed by radical Islamists and rogue nations. Americans expect the government to diligently safeguard this nation, and they trust President Bush's decisive leadership in this wartime atmosphere. None of this is good news for the Democrats.
Now, Al Gore is without a clue, as he moves substantially to the Left, assailing President Bush regarding: a) tax cuts and economic policy, and, b) military efforts to topple Saddam Hussein, which will ostensibly undermine the fight against terrorism.
According to a recent Time magazine piece, Gore claims that an invasion of Iraq could "seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism" . Say what? Gore's thinking is convoluted since "regime change" in Iraq is crucial to our victory over terrorism. Despite considerable evidence that has already been promulgated, Gore is still unable to discern that Saddam is a dangerous psychopath who possesses catastrophic weaponry and assiduously aids terrorist organizations. According to the latest Gallop poll, about 6 in 10 Americans favor military intervention in Iraq if Saddam Hussein fails to comply with the UN resolution to disarm from weapons of mass destruction.
Clearly, Gore needs to work on the "vision thing" in his comeback tour. On both the economic and war fronts, Gore neglects countering with viable solutions or plans of his own. In fact, his only real proposal involves foisting socialism on America. Amazingly, Gore now favors a "single payer" national health plan that is "socialized medicine" in a nutshell. First, this type of state-run system drives up costs, and produces poor quality services, as demonstrated by the experiences of Canada and European nations. Second, this is far too radical, too unacceptable to the American people. For heaven's sake, what has Al Gore been smoking?
Strategically speaking, the last thing that Al Gore should be doing is "sharpening the differences" between the Democrats and Republicans. Frankly, that would only draw attention to the Democratic Party's incredibly liberal, even socialist, ways. Rather, Gore should be blurring the contrast between the two parties as Bill Clinton smartly did. With Dick Morris as his political advisor, Clinton cross-dressed as a "centrist", a "Republican- light" type, and that's how he succeeded. He aligned himself with the Democratic Leadership Council that is geared toward producing more "moderate" candidates, or at least the impression of such. Of course, whether these DLC candidates are truly moderate is another matter entirely.
Gore's lurch to the Left is absolutely dreadful, a non-starter in our current era. Advocating socialism in America is nothing less than flirting with disaster. My question is, what happened to Gore's political savvy?
However, from a Republican perspective, there's a significant bright side to this political equation. There's no denying that a Far-Left Democratic presidential candidate would bode well for the GOP, and that's terrific.
On second thought, keep striving, Mr.Gore! Your Party's nomination may just be within reach.
Moline-Devin has been missing from the pages of Enter Stage Right for far too
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