Another Al Gore makeover?

By ARTHUR I. CYR

Former Vice President Al Gore’s renewed prominence as a result of winning two Oscars for “An Inconvenient Truth,” his documentary on global warming, is fueling extensive speculation about his political future — not too many years after he was regarded as not having one.

He has explicitly denied interest in running for president again. Such statements can be dismissed; his cinematic actions speak louder. Moreover, his current quips about being a “recovering politician” indicate that he is working very hard to develop a sense of humor.

Those who deny he can be nominated, however, are likewise to be dismissed by clear-seeing analysts whose view overcomes the pollution of political pontificators. A second run for the number one office would be very tough to mount, but not impossible.

Renominated defeated presidential candidates have been extremely unusual. Republican Thomas Dewey was picked again to run for president in 1948 after losing to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, but he was rightly regarded as a loyalist who sacrificed by running against three-time winner FDR in the midst of World War II. Also, incumbent President Harry Truman was viewed as already defeated, a major miscalculation.

Democrat Adlai Stevenson was renominated in 1956 to run a second time against President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Intense affection for Adlai was a major factor. Very cold calculation was also in play, however, as other contenders shied away from taking on the enormously popular Ike.

The true parallel with former Vice President Gore is another vice president who got another chance — Richard M. Nixon. Like Gore, Nixon lost a controversially close presidential race in 1960, waited out the next one, and then won the White House in 1968. He even surmounted a 1962 defeat for governor of California, punctuated by a disastrous “last press conference” fueled by public anger and self-pity.

Nixon provides instructive lessons should Gore decide to declare for the presidency, as he must to have a chance in 2008. First, controversy surrounding Gore’s documentary and wider environmental concerns may prove a very significant asset. Like Nixon’s anti-communism, the environment has been a consistent theme of Gore’s career.

The former president spent his last years prolifically writing books, making occasional speeches, and providing advice to a steady stream of ambitious young Republican visitors. When asked about the dangers of controversy, Nixon invariably responded that you should worry instead about being boring, because if the voters lose interest, you are finished. Controversy, by contrast, could be an asset.

Second, Nixon’s durability was directly linked to his constant cultivation of the grass roots. When intense controversy developed in 1952 over alleged misuse of funds, he countered with a highly emotional television address. Immediate enormous public support forced Eisenhower to embrace the young man who had forced his way on the ticket.

Third, after outmaneuvering and outthinking armies of enemies, and achieving the pinnacle of the White House, Nixon then proceeded with characteristic determination to destroy himself. His greatest enemy by far turned out to be the one within his own head.

Good luck to Al Gore. He should keep emphasizing the environment, including the one containing those essential political activists, and remember — especially in the intensely hot temperatures of politics — that not all the threats we face are external.

(Arthur I. Cyr is Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College and author of “After the Cold War.” He can be reached at acyr(at)carthage.edu )

13 Responses to "Another Al Gore makeover?"

  1. Kent Shaw  March 2, 2007 at 1:38 am

    .

    Thom Hartmann, Bill Moyers, William Greider — any one of them would be great, but none are so stupid as to want the job!

    .

  2. Jeffery Haas  March 2, 2007 at 5:27 am

    Until I see Gore match Ed Begley gizmo for gizmo, alternative fuel car for alternative fuel car and solar system for solar system it’s going to be very difficult for me to respect his voice on peak oil, alt energy, global warming, etc, even though I already have a good understanding of the seriousness of these problems.

    But for now I view Gore as doing more harm to the cause than good.

    He needs to walk the walk.

    If Gore can’t lead by EXAMPLE, then he’s not LEADING at all.

  3. Rice Farmer  March 2, 2007 at 6:10 am

    Globalist and green hypocrite Al Gore should go back home to his mansion and stay there. Gore’s behavior is typical of any rich elite who greenwashes himself while living high. He has the gall to tell us peons that we have to reduce our energy use and stop global warming while he lives in a mansion heated to shirtsleeve temperature and jets around the globe spewing hot air. The Gores, the Clintons, the Bushes, and many others are just bloodsucking elites who make life miserable for the rest of us by using more than their fair share of resources and energy, promoting globalism and empire, and hyping the phony “terrorist threat.”

  4. now now kiddies  March 3, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    My understanding is that Gore’s home (many rooms) has a significant electric bill that is increased because he is paying the extra fee to have the power generated by “green” processes. He had been attacked by the right because of the high bills and it took a reporter to note that he was doing what makes sense, at least to me.

  5. Steve Horn  March 1, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Global warming is a serious problem, but not as serious as having a clown like Al Gore using the plight of costal communities and arctic wildlife to further his political career.

    Apparently his personal power consumption is yet another “inconvenient truth” – and are we to believe that Al, who also claimed to have “invented the internet” is also living a “green” life.

    A true “liberal” in the foulest sense of the word, Al once again talks the talk but fails to walk the walk (if, in fact, he walks at all, save his electric treadmill in an air-conditioned workout room in his 10,000 square foot house!) – he’s a poster child for the ilk Phil Ochs warned us against in his song “Love me I’m a Liberal”.

    So how do I define my personal political stance? Leftist my friends – leftist.

    Peace

    Steve

  6. Susan  March 1, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    You’re going to buy into that whole line of bull shit of Al inventing the internet. Gore didn’t say he “invented” the internet. He, along with others were responsible for creating legislation that promoted the establishment of high-speed national networks.

    I will give this to Gore. I worked for the federal government up until 2001. The most effective waste trimmer I experienced in my several years of service was Gore. It was painful for the folks who invented government jobs out of thin air and then actually had to account for them. It wasn’t pretty. I remember it well. I quit a 70 g a year job when whistle ass was selected by the SCOTUS. Things went downhill under the fake cowboy within 6 months of him sitting in the chair.

    I am not saying that Gore is Mother Teresa but let’s not buy into the bs.

  7. Steve Horn  March 1, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Susan,

    I’m well aware that Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, in fact I’ve met a few of the engineers who were involved in establishing packet communications technology in the early days of ARPANET – and trust me – Al wasn’t one of ‘em.

    What I find repugnant is politicians hopping on a band wagon, like global warming, just to use the buzz to further their careers. When technology was in fashion, Al was “into” tech. Now that environmentalism is in fashion, there’s Al, wearing a new suit of clothes.

    Where’s Al on universal health care, on retaining tech and manufacturing jobs in America, on the revitalization of our urban centers, on enhancement of educational opportunities for all youth? You’ll never know until they swing into fashion.

    This nation doesn’t need another celebrity politician who flits from cause to cause, what this nation needs is a true leader, with a firm grasp of what needs to be done, a visionary who’s not afraid to take a contrarian position to accomplish long term goals with positive imact for the electorate and the world at large. Instead what we get are yet more sound-byte cowboys – from both “major” parties – which are, in reality, the same.

    As for Shrub – I’m about to eat my lunch – so I’ll not comment on that poster child for birth control.

    Peace

    Steve

  8. Susan  March 1, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    I respect your opinions Steve. But it is true that Gore was active on the environment and the creation of a network early on in his career. If Gore is even thinking about 08 though he is going to have to give us more as you so graciously summed up. Right now, there isn’t a person out there vote worthy except for Dennis.

    I just fired off a letter to my Dem rep basically asking him if he is going to shit or get off the pot. It’s obvious to any school aged child that the new bosses are the same as the old bosses.

  9. Steve Horn  March 1, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Susan,

    Agreed, Gore was instrumental in providing funding for the conversion of the ARPANET into the INTERNET and thence to the WWW – I’ll grant that.

    As for his environmental stance, I hear him say a lot regarding the environment, but I don’t see him doing much to lead. Perhaps that’s my objection to many of the candidates, they’re long on talk but short on action, and leadership, true leadership, requires action, to set the example. As a leader you don’t shove people along, neither do you drag them to where you want them, rather you set the pace and the example. If you’re deemed to be honest and genuine, people will follow you.

    And I feel our nation has had enough of fear. Fear is not a good motivator, Shrub has used fear since 9/11 to strip us of our personal freedoms, to justify two wars, to ravage the environment and increase wage gap between the working poor and the CEO’s. Using fear of environmental disaster isn’t the way forward, explaining the clear, scientific evidence for the phenomena of gloabal warming and coming up with rational ways to reduce our impact on the earth is a far better answer.

    What I’m looking for in a candidate is integrity in their day to day dealings, with everyone, and a genuine desire to make America and the world a better place – for all of us – not just Halliburton or Exxon. I’ve yet to find a major party candidate that meets my personal criteria. I’d run – but I’m not so certain that I’d vote for myself.

    Peace

    Steve

  10. allan hirsh  March 1, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Where is Gov. Scranton when you need him?

  11. Susan  March 1, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Well we could always nominate Thom Hartmann…..

  12. Andrew J. Levesque  March 2, 2007 at 12:05 am

    So I imagine Steve that you knnow Al Gore isn’t following what he preaches since you have followed him around on daily business for the past two weeks. You’ve obviously had the chance to get to know Mr. Gore and surely understand his points of view very well. Everything you write is so speculative and laughable.

  13. Kent Shaw  March 2, 2007 at 1:36 am

    .

    Screw Gore. He had his shot, won by 600,000 votes, saw the subversion that occurred in Florida and refused to fight for his rightful win. Besides that, he was Clinton’s vice president, and therefore… a Clinton.

    .

    NO MORE CLINTONS! NO MORE BUSHES!

    .

    Almost three decades of these globalist bastards is enough!

    .

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