'Fess up now, folks: are you really looking forward to eighteen more
months of presidential campaigning?
More to the point, if you're a Democrat like me, are you truly
thrilled by the prospect that we might nominate Barack or Hillary?
Don't get me wrong. I admire them both. I first met Hillary in January
of '92, when she was campaigning for Bill in the New Hampshire primary
and I had the privilege of introducing her to her first Dartmouth
audience -- when hardly anyone up here had ever heard of her. She was
even then a thoroughly polished performer who could speak eloquently
and engagingly without a single note. Since then, she has proven
herself an astute, remarkably well-informed senator, sensitive to the
needs of all her constituents and fully capable of building bridges
across party lines. In many ways, she's a model of what a woman can do
in politics, and if any woman is now qualified to run for the
presidency of the United States, it is Senator Hillary Clinton. It
would be exciting as well as historic to see a woman -- at long
last -- take charge of the White House.
Barack Obama is a phenomenon: a man of both African and American
parentage who has been raised abroad, educated at Harvard Law,
trained in community organizing on the streets of Chicago, and
seasoned by his years in politics. Author of two acclaimed books, he's
an eloquent (not just articulate) speaker and writer, and given the
one hundred thousand people who have already contributed to his
campaign, he's shown that he knows how to build widespread support as
he forges his vision of a new justice for all America--a justice that
builds on the legacy of Martin Luther King. If anyone of African
heritage is qualified to run for the presidency of the United States,
it is Senator Barack Obama. It would be exciting as well as historic
to see an African-American--at long last--take charge of the White
But tell me this. Among all possible candidates for the Democratic
nomination next year, is either Barack or Hillary the best
qualified -- or the most likely to win the general election?
My answer is no. As long as Al Gore declines to take a Sherman, as
long as he won't lock the door against all possibility of running
again, I believe he's the best horse we've got. The best qualified,
and the most likely to win.
Yes, I know, he lost in 2000, and many Democrats have never forgiven
him for doing so. But let's remember that he won the popular vote by a
half a million ballots, that vote counting in Florida was miserably
mismanaged, and that the election of 2000 was finally decided not by
the people of any state but by a dysfunctional Supreme Court.
Let's remember too what happened to another candidate who had been
long out of office when he ran. Like Gore, he just missed winning the
presidency after eight years as vice president. Two years later, after
losing a race for the governorship of California, he angrily told the
press they would not have him to kick him around anymore. But in
1968, running against an administration hamstrung by a war that was
going nowhere, he won the presidency.
I cite this precedent not to suggest that Al Gore resembles Nixon in
any way at all, but merely to scotch the notion that Gore is
politically dead, that anyone who loses a presidential election can
never go on to win one. If Nixon could win the White House after
practically burying himself alive, Gore could most definitely do so.
OK, it's question time. Yes sir, in the back row.
Wooden Al, you say? So stiff he makes Secret Service agents look like
Robin Williams? You can't be serious.
Oh yes I am. Have you seen An Inconvenient Truth? Wooden Al has become
a forest fire who can burn his way to the White House. Through his
years in the political wilderness he's been reborn. Liberated from the
constraints of campaigning, he's been saying exactly what he wants to
say -- carefully, thoughtfully, eloquently, passionately, and even
rivetingly -- about the war in Iraq, about the assault on reason in
public discourse and the media, and above all about the environment,
which we will irreversibly destroy for our children and grandchildren
unless we can muster the political will that Gore asks of us.
So what does Gore expect us to do--choose him by acclamation, like
No, but does he really have to start running six hundred days out
from the nomination? Has he really lost his chance forever, now that
Hillary and Barack have each already raised 25 million bucks for their
Let's face it: Gore is in a class by himself. He's already proven his
drawing power in a presidential election. Even if he waited until the
early fall to declare his candidacy, money would flow like Niagara.
Why? Because if we Democrats are smart enough to nominate him, no
Republican candidate -- absolutely no one -- could beat him. Can you
confidently say that of either Hillary or Barack?
And one more question from me: is there a single American voter who
hasn't at least once wondered what sort of country and what sort of
world we might now have if the Florida votes had been fairly counted
in the presidential election of 2000? We will never know the answer to
that question, but a Gore candidacy would give us the chance to make
some amends for the most disastrous miscarriage of political justice
in the history of this nation, to rebuild a confidence shattered by
the pneumatic drill of fear, and to rediscover the true meaning of our
OK, OK, but he's still not running. How can we persuade him to run?
I don't know, but I do know there's a website called draftgore.org. If
you think he should run, go straight to it and add your voice to the