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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Have voters had enough of a president they want to have a beer with?
Posted by Jill | 6:53 AM
The conventional wisdom is that George W. Bush in 2000 was the guy you wanted to have a beer with, that his brand of towel-snapping familiarity played to a population that for some reason associated policy wonkery with Bill Clinton's sexual escapades. That the notion of the smart guy getting all the girls flies in the face of everything that Bush voters believed never occurred to them. A guy who was Just Like Them was running against a guy who had all of Clinton's intelligence and all of his wonkery, but little of his charm.

Now there is a maelstrom swirling around Al Gore yet again, as he promotes his new book, The Assault on Reason and as the spectre of an inevitable Hillary Clinton nomination and equally inevitable loss at the hands of whatever Iraq-bot gets the Republican nomination stares us in the face.

Last night Gore appeared on Countdown, and while I'd like to believe that Americans have moved beyond falling for the smirk, the grin, the cheap rhetoric delivered at a first-grade level and the platitudes and fearmongering that are the stock in trade of the Republicans, I still do not believe that they're ready for Al Gore's professorial delivery:

None of the Republicans currently running are as utterly moronic as George W. Bush clearly was in 2000, but I don't think they're ready to heed the call of someone who still sounds like a particularly dry economics professor.

The problem is that we've seen that Gore can be funny and charming when he wants to be -- but when he's on the spot, as he was last night, and he knows that every word he says is going to be immediately scrutinized by the likes of Chris Matthews (and as we noted yesterday, David Brooks) and immediately branded as "weird" -- or worse.

I don't think Gore is simply being coy when he refuses to say whether he's planning to run in 2008. I think Gore is very well aware both of the minefield that awaits him should he decide to run -- a minefield that he can avoid by keeping in the public eye without declaring -- and of the huge mantle of Hope that sits on his shoulders from a Democratic base that last week was told to go fuck ourselves by the Democrats in Washington; even those we fought so hard to elect. I think Gore is also painfully aware that he is not "made for television", and what we saw on Countdown last night is, for all his good intentions, the Al Gore that turned into the homoerotic male news media's favorite whipping boy; the "beta male" that they wanted to see beaten up for his lunch money by the Strapping Phony in the Cowboy Hat. In fact, it has already begun, as Newsweek plants the "loser" meme in people's minds right out of the gate with this ridiculous article claiming that beta is the new alpha.

For all that there would be a lovely kind of karmic justice to a resurgent Al Gore returning to claim what was rightfully his in 2000, it's clear to me at least so far that there many obstacles in young Frodo's path as he ventures to throw the Ring of Absolute Power and Authoritarianism back into the fires of Mount Doom where it belongs.


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