The Blog

A Little Touch of Harry

Like Truman, Gore has been belittled and lampooned, and he's shown sound judgment on some of the biggest questions of the age -- the deep idiocy of the war in Iraq and the peril of climate change.
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If he hasn't already, Al Gore should reread David McCollough's majestic biography of Harry Truman, get off his ample rump and start running openly for president.

Truman's 1948 "Give 'em Hell, Harry" campaign against Republican Tom Dewey, Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond (yes, that Strom Thurmond) and Henry Wallace, the Communist stooge on the Progressive ticket, was an audacious insurrection against the conventional wisdom of the day -- and the most inspiring episode in modern American political history.

On his own, with few big-time allies and nearly penniless, Truman whistle-stopped across the country from Labor Day to election eve, castigating the Republicans as the selfish exploiters of everyday Americans. "You don't get any double talk from me," he told a crowd in morning sunshine in tiny Sparks, Nevada. "I'm either for something or against it, and you know it. You know what I stand for. I think the government belongs to you and me as private citizens. I'm calling this trip a crusade... of the people against the special interests. Now use your judgment. Keep the people in control of the government... and if you vote for yourselves, you'll vote for the Democratic ticket."

Three weeks before the election, Newsweek polled the top fifty political correspondents in the country -- and all fifty predicted a Dewey landslide. Truman won by more than 2 million votes, carrying 28 states with 303 electoral votes. He swept both houses of Congress, too.

Gore is no Truman, but he has the same Middle Border passion and integrity -- and he is capable of plain speaking. Like Truman, he's been belittled and lampooned, and, like Truman, he's shown sound judgment on some of the biggest questions of the age -- the deep idiocy of the war in Iraq and the peril of climate change.

Best of all, he has already published his campaign manifestos -- An Inconvenient Truth and now The Assault on Reason.

Imagine Gore letting it rip in the Democratic debates, caucuses and primaries against Hillary Clinton's triangulating evasions, Obama's rookie jitters and John Edward's callow populism. And imagine a Gore-Obama ticket hanging George Bush's abysmal record around the neck of Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Newt Gingrich or some other GOP candidate.

Having lost an election he won, Gore has nothing more to lose. What's more, he knows -- as Harry Truman knew -- that he's the man to save the country -- this time, from another spasm of Clintonism or a disastrous replay of Republican misrule.

Give 'em Hell, Al.