An Inconvenient Stage Cue

26 02 2007

Gore_Oscars

I’m sure that half the country was holding their breath last night as Al Gore pulled that folded sheaf of papers out of his tuxedo and started into his “My fellow Americans…” bit.  With one more sentence, Mr. Gore could have changed the entire presidential primary race for the 2008 election, by stating that he would throw his hat into the ring and make it a 3 person primary race.  Gore is certainly capitalizing on the success of the Academy Award winning movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” with a number of public appearances scheduled over the next several months, including testifying before 3 Congressional hearings on climate change issues.  Gore will also be releasing his new political book, The Assault on Reason, on May 22 in his most recent foray into political punditry.  The question on everyone’s mind in Washington, DC this morning is whether Gore is positioning himself for a major comeback to the national political scene. 

Former Gore campaign Director Donna Brazile has expressed what many pundits have known for many months but been afraid to say aloud, that “Gore’s political stock is hot right now. ” The former VP is certainly riding a huge wave of popularity for his work on “An Inconvenient Truth,” but whether that popularity can be efficiently translated into political support for a candidate that has painted himself as a single issue crusader, remains to be seen.  Gore has no doubt been successful at making the climate change issue a huge component of the political debate.  However, the galvanizing issue for the majority of American voters in 2006 was, and continues to be, the Iraq War, which Mr. Gore has remained relatively silent about.   The release of “The Assault on Reason” may be Gore’s attempt to submit for public record his positions on a variety of important issues that will shape the 2008 election, including condemnation of the Iraq war, and thus set the stage for Gore to enter into a three way primary race against Clinton & Obama in early 2008. 

Somewhere in this decision process lies Gore’s true motivation, either seeing actual results and success on the climate change issue, or furthering his personal political position.  I have no doubt that Al Gore is “super serial” about the importance of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emmisions.  Riding his wave of popularity along the sidelines of presidential politics could create a unique opportunity for Mr. Gore to raise the climate change issue to cabinet level importance in a new administration by asserting his influence over a Democratic primary candidate’s platform, without dilluting his own energy and drive on the issue. 

Mr. Gore’s dedication to the climate change issue is far too compelling to expect him (or want to ask him) to diversify his attention towards a wide range of domestic and international policy issues.  With the current wave of support Mr. Gore is receiving, he will be a formidable player in the 2008 election, whether as a candidate or an influencer.  However, I would prefer to see Mr. Gore assert his influence through the early backing of a key democratic candidate, thereby securing a cabinet position for himself as “Climate Change Czar,” than to see any of his efforts and recent successes tainted with a re-entry into the political campaign world as a candidate himself.   Gore has come too far and grown too successful after his 2000 election defeat, to lower himself into a political maelstrom.  Mr. Gore said it best during his Oscar acceptance speech when he pointed out that climate change is not a political issue, but rather a moral issue.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that cringes at the idea of America’s new moral champion being dragged down into the mud of a modern presidential campaign.

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