Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Al Gore, Movie Star and Progressive-Visionary Alternative?

How did Al Gore suddenly become the "Progressive-visionary alternative to those prevaricating 2008 Centrist candidates (Allen, Richardson, Bayh, Vilsac, Clinton, et al.)"? Arianna Huffington called him the anti-Hillary, and even LB's own leftist Alexander Hamilton called Gore his dream candidate a couple weeks ago. This is the same Gore who was a leader of the "third way" centrists in the 90s, the same Gore who choked so pitifully in 2000?

A lot of the groundswell has to do with Gore's early and vocal opposition to the war in Iraq, as well as that firebrand speech a couple weeks ago about the Bush regime's unchecked executive branch. Plus there's a lot of buzz about the new global warming book and movie coming out this Spring.

According to the Washington Post, the movie is amazing.

The film touches briefly but with emotion on three events in Gore's life and how they inspired his environmental activism: the car accident that almost took the life of his son; his defeat in Florida to Bush; and perhaps most foreboding, the death of his sister, a lifelong smoker, from lung cancer ("That's not one of the ways you want to die," Gore says in the film in a voice-over) and the fact that his family farmed tobacco and didn't stop until after her death. Gore underscores that this is the way people are, that it is hard to change old habits, be it smoking or growing tobacco or emitting carbon dioxide, but that without change, the bell tolls.

It does sound pretty good, and there's no denying that he's got a good personal story.

In an excellent analysis of Gore's chances in 2008, Ben Smith at the Observer says that Gore is

no longer Bill Clinton’s straight man, no longer the wooden, cautious candidate of 2000— [he] has been raising his profile through a series of impassioned speeches against the Bush administration. They began in September 2002, when he warned against the invasion of Iraq, which he said “has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world.” He dwelled, presciently, on the risk of post-invasion chaos. That speech and others like it, along with his once-mocked warnings about global warning, have transformed him for Democrats into a kind of Cassandra, always right and always ignored. And his clear anti-war stand is in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton’s obsessively monitored but hard-to-explain position on Iraq.

Nobody in Mr. Gore’s political circle suggests, on the record or off, that he is actively planning a run for President in 2008. But the film "falls into the 'we’ll see if that gives anything legs' category," said a major Democratic donor who backed Mr. Gore in 2000 and is in touch with the former Vice President’s circle of friends and allies.

And that was written before the buzz about the movie at the Sundance Film Festival. Since then, there's been a steady rumble of Gore support.

And with every groundswell, there's a backlash. Take these comments in response to Larry Beinhart's Run, Al, Run article yesterday:

Big supporter of corporate trade agreements and pro-death penalty, Al Gore is not the progressive choice we need. I congratulate him for his bold opposition to this administration's war on Iraq and war on civil liberties, but his economic agenda is -- last I heard -- Republican-lite all the way. A strong populist economic agenda is what the Dems need to win the swing states in the midwest, and Gore just doesn't have that. Remember, this is the man that chose our favorite Connecticut Republican, Joe Lieberman, as a running mate.

Good points, gdennis. And Wildlander takes on Al in the one area where he's supposed to have progressive bona fides, the environment:

Al Gore was directly involved in the corporatism and privitization of public lands. In Montana in the 1990's Al Gore brought together private interests to replace public ownership of our national forests, BLM, National Parks and other federal lands. The gathering of private interests under Al Gore was given the name Nine Mile.

Owtch! I think Alan Smithee sums up my current take:

No matter how much neoliberals like Al swath themselves in blue-collar plaid, they're still empty corporate suits. As long as Al's got his patrician beltway friends to tell him what to do, we'll all still be subject to his pretty, empty speeches.

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  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    A) NONE of the other leading candidates will offer a less pro-trade-agreement stance. You expect one from Edwards? Feingold? Think again.

    B) Of course if he runs the same way he did in 2000 no one would be interested. He picked Lieberman mainly to separate himself from Clinton because Lieberman shook his finger at Bill in the Senate. But remember, Lieberman wasn't nearly so radioactive among the party base then.

    C) Gore hasn't lived in DC since he lost in 2000. I see no evidence that he still does have his patrician beltway friends telling him what to do. I see no evidence that he doesn't, I just don't get the assumption that corporate lobbyists care very much what a Columbia journalism professor is up to.

    D) Other than Feingold, name a member of the current Democratic field who's clearly better.

    E) I know you value competence, all other things being equal. We've talked about it in the past. Gore is clearly one of the smartest, most competent people considering a run. He actually thinks about the implications of policy details. I know that doesn't go over that well on the campaign trail, but it matters a great deal in an actual President. He really did see the potential in the internet long before most people. He really did see the dangers of global warming long before most people. In both cases, it was because he understands detail and nuance.

    F) Taking on Gore on environmental grounds is just contrarianism. You're not going to get any real-life politicians better on this score. Arguing that he's somehow not pure green enough is clearly making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    H) Other than Feingold, name a member of the current Democratic field who's clearly better.

    I) Other than Feingold, name a member of the current Democratic field who's clearly better.

  • At 1:29 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I'll amend that slightly: Feingold might offer a less pro-trade-agreement stance. Might. See points D, H, and I.

  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Oh, and this:

    A strong populist economic agenda is what the Dems need to win the swing states in the midwest, and Gore just doesn't have that.

    smacks of someone who's talking out his or her ass. I do that all the time, but I'm not buying someone else's anal-ysis as being in any way authoritative. I don't really believe this person has done much polling or focus-group testing in "swing states in the midwest."

  • At 2:35 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    And I already said Gore wasn't my dream candidate in a real sense. Last time.

  • At 1:33 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I asked my mother tonight what she thought about Gore as a candidate, and she said almost the exact same thing you did.

    Which makes me wonder:

    Have you always subliminally reminded me of my mother?



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