Friday, March 28, 2008

The Al Gore Option

DKos diary, 3/28/08

Time this week presents a perspective from Joe Klein titled Is Al Gore the Answer. Three things: A. It looks today like Obama has it; B. It looks like Elvis will not (cannot) leave the building so maybe Obama doesn’t have it; C. It looks like one of those times in history when the Trickster is at hand and anything can (will) happen. In this environment Klein brings in a more or less classic scenario: A brokered convention in which a third individual appealing to all to some degree is bought in and in this case that could be (should be) Al Gore.

Klein writes:

Let's say the elders of the Democratic Party decide, when the primaries end, that neither Obama nor Clinton is viable. ... All they'd have to do would be to convince a significant fraction of their super delegate friends, maybe fewer than 100, to announce that they were taking a pass on the first ballot at the Denver convention, which would deny the 2,025 votes necessary to Obama or Clinton. What if they then approached Gore and asked him to be the nominee, for the good of the party-and suggested that he take Obama as his running mate? ... A prominent fund raiser told me, 'Gore-Obama is the ticket a lot of people wanted in the first place.

I think it was Emerson (or maybe Kerouac) who said that people don’t make history; historic events make people. The question we might ask ourselves at this moment is: What is the critical issue of our time? The war in Iraq? Oil? The declining dollar and the failing economy? China and India rising? Unification of the country and the crisis of authority in Washington, D.C.? Russian bombers circling Alaska? In that regard Gore might be considered. His name is singularly attached to the issue of global warming and if this becomes the paramount issue, he comes to the fore with it.

What is interesting about Gore in the current political climate is that as a Clinton Administration guy, he, almost alone among the rising fourth generation, has cache. His popularity transcends his own generation. His ratings at Daily Kos last year were sky high – somewhere in the 80% approval if I recall, while Senator Clinton’s hovered around zero. So he could, as Klein says, appeal to the broad spectrum.

But the issues should (and will) bring forth the best candidate to solve that particular problem. And one more fire season across the Southwest may bring us to the issue of supreme importance, global warming.

I feel that we are still in denial on this issue. We bring forth simple or inappropriate solutions like the "caretaker of the earth" one based on a Bible teaching (which is actually about investing money). But we are symbiotes with the earth and the earth cares for us. Or we rush into wrong directions like biofuel which makes things worse.

It is still snowing this morning outside my window here in the north country of New Hampshire and we tend to think about it more when it is hot. Perhaps we will need a Pearl Harbor to finally face up to this issue. Mark Lynas’s new book, Six Degrees, Our Future on Hotter Planet, presents a picture that is now not unlikely. It brings a vision of danger that sends all of history’s villains into shadow. But here there is not Hitler, no Stalin. Here it is Pogo’s maxim: We have found the villain and he is us.

As The Guardian’s review, titled Six Steps to Hell puts it:

By the end of the century, the Earth could be more than 6C hotter than it is today, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We know that would be bad news - but just how bad? How big a rise will it take for the Alps to melt, the oceans to die and desert to conquer Europe and the Americas?

I am one of the people who thought that Gore was not always a great Vice President. The Clinton foreign policy initiatives which he fully endorsed and advanced were dangerous and naïve. He tended to listen to novelty perspectives and pop culture mavens. But I also believe that he has grown and improved as a man and as a public figure in the last ten years and that is a remarkable and rare transition for someone his (and my) age. He has earned the title of Elder as many who claim it now have not.

I hope for an Obama Presidency. My best scenario would be a post-partisan commission to face and manage global warming chaired by Mike Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut, who have already made major strides on this issue which have left the federal government in the dark. And a hundred years from now I’d hope the names of those commissioners be remembered as the names Eisenhower and Marshall and Roosevelt are recalled from the Second World War and its aftermath.

But a commission like this would work just as well with Al Gore at the helm as a transcendent leader.