Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Less Irate Thoughts and Reflections

Ok.. the fuming has died down a bit over the Gore endorsement. Now for a more reasoned analysis (as opposed to the very, very angry and profane one proffered last night).

Gore is clearly positioning himself to become leader of the Democratic Party, whether that means replacing Terry Mac in a Dean administration or becoming the front runner for 2008. Gore is clearly trying to pre-empty any momentum Hillary would have going into 2008. And let's face it, the Clintons and the Gores do not exactly get along. Al blames Bill for his P2000 loss and Bill fumes at Al for abandoning the Clinton legacy (once termed the Clinton-Gore legacy, which I now think is a misnomer).

Clearly over the past year or so, Al Gore has reconnected with his inner hippie. A connection that was lost sometime in the 60's when Al Jr. joined the military in order to help Al Sr. in a tough re-election battle (Gore Sr. lost to Bill Brock). Over his legislative career Gore was a noted moderate and helped to found the DLC. As Vice President Gore presided over Reinventing Government, a highly acclaimed Third Way approach to making government smaller, more efficient and less costly. All the while no one ever suspected that little Al had a tree hugging, Birkenstock wearing inner hippie.

But that became somewhat apparent during his run for the White House in 2000, when for the first time in recorded history a sitting VP with a great economy tried to run a populist outsider campaign. But not only was Gore the VP, but he had grown up in DC, the son of a Congressman and Senator; attended tony boarding schools; and, went to Harvard. Not exactly the hallmarks of a populist outsider. For many people, the incongruity left us scratching our heads.

Al Gore veered left in the primary in an attempt to stave off Bill Bradley, but never did he move back to the center. There are those on the leftward side of the party who would claim that Gore lost in 2000 because he did not present a real alternative, that he was too moderate or conservative. Yet, the facts clearly refute that conclusion. Gore lost his home state of Tennessee and several other Southern states that Clinton had won and which were crucial to the Democrats' chances to retain control of the White House. One does not lose in the South for being too conservative or too moderate.

The rhetoric of the Gore campaign in 2000 simply failed to make sense, or to connect with most voters. Now, I know there are those who will point to the fact that Gore won the plurality of the popular vote, but that counterargument does not hold a lot of water. There is absolutely NO reason why a sitting VP with a good economy should have even had a close race. Gore should have been picking out drapes for the residence by the beginning of October at the latest.

Gore's catchphrase/theme was -- the people versus the powerful. He liked to say that the Gore administration would be day one of the fight for America's working families. But then who had Gore been fighting for during his eight years as Vice President? And who thought America's working families really were doing so poorly. (note: I realize they were not doing REAL well, but with the economy the way it was, very few people were so concerned)

Now, along comes Al to endorse the governor from Vermont, or as I like to call him- Dr. Strangelove. In his brief speech this morning Gore essentially labelled Dean the anti-war candidate and said that we needed to remake the Democratic Party and take it back to its roots. Unfortunately, neither of these are particularly good or compelling. First, over 70% of Americans supported the war with Iraq and although many Democratic primary voters are frothing mad about the war, this message does not play well with the general electorate. (What does play well, and should be emphasized, is how royally BushCo. has fucked up post-war Iraq.) Secondly, taking the party back to its roots, I assume, means back to old style liberal interest group politics. You remember the good old days, don't you? Back when we could not elect a President, when we had a succession of losers broken only by the moderate Clinton. Yeah, just what we need to do is to go back to being a Congressional Party. Of course, that won't work too well because the way the country has been redistricted after the 2000 census leaves little margin for Democratic success at the Congressional level. So then what would the party become if we cannot win the White House, nor cobble together a Congressional majority?

If we are going to move back to our roots, then we might as well become the Greens.


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