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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The successful un-presidency of Al Gore
Posted by Jill | 7:43 AM
Richard Cohen, who was one of the first Mean Grrrrlz, along with his good friend Maureen Dowd, to decide in 2000 that Al Gore's taste in clothing made him somehow unfit for the presidency as compared to the faux cowboy drag of George W. Bush, has had a change of heart:

Now, somebody ought to make a movie about Al Gore. I would call it "An Uncomplaining Life."

The movie would be about a man who did not quit, who came off the canvas after a painfully close election -- he won the popular vote, after all -- who accepted defeat graciously and tried to unite the nation, who returned to the consuming passion of his earlier days, the environment, and spoke endlessly on the topic, almost always for free, who starred in a documentary based on his speech and who Sunday night, before a billion or so people, won an Academy Award for his effort. This may or may not be a stepping stone to the presidency, but Gore gives us all a lesson on how to live one's life.


Gore would not have taken the United States to war in Iraq. He would have finished the job in Afghanistan -- it was al-Qaeda and its Taliban enablers who were responsible for the attacks on us on Sept. 11, 2001, not Saddam Hussein, no matter how vile he might have been. Gore would not have dealt with the Iranians and the North Koreans in such a juvenile fashion -- axis of evil, after all -- and all over the world, wherever you and I went, we would not detect such anger toward America.


Jimmy Carter said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that he thought Gore ought to run and had told Gore so insistently. "He almost told me the last time I called, 'Don't call me anymore,' " Carter said. What Gore told me was something similar: "I think there are other ways to serve."

We'll see. After all, Gore -- the son of a senator himself -- was raised for the presidency. But for the moment at least, he is showing all the irritating signs of a man at peace with himself. He abandoned Washington for Nashville. He has made a bundle in his investments, and he has set out to show that there is life after a failed candidacy, a purposeful life in which a man can do some good. His movie and his speeches are -- to paraphrase what Clausewitz said about war -- a continuation of politics by other means. He cannot make war but he can still make a difference.

I know -- and so does Gore -- that all this will change if he enters the race. Maybe that ol' devil of uncertainty will come creeping out of his skin, and maybe he will become shrill, and maybe he will somehow throw his voice so that it seems to be coming from outside his body. But the woman I love tells me that life is a series of little lives, and no one has proved the truth of this better than Gore. With an Oscar in his fist and triumph on his face, Al Gore is a man you can tell your kid about. That, maybe, is even better than being president.

...and more effective, too. For I'm not sure that whoever succeeds George Bush as president (and I am not certain that anyone will, as this president and his Dark Overlord in the #2 spot seem to be arming the very terrorists who will attack us again just in time for them to declare martial law and cancel the 2008 election) will be able to accomplish even half of what Al Gore can do outside the executive branch.

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