Forget everything you know about polls and fundraising, about motivating the base, about political viability, campaign counterattacks and the New Hampshire primary. When I ask myself not who can win the white house, but who I want running the country, I come up with one answer: Al Gore.
Way back in 1992, I remember wishing that the ticket were reversed. Bill Clinton seemed like a great guy, but he was untested on the national stage, never more than the governor of a backwater state. Al Gore was talking about things that mattered to me — the environment, for one, which I thought then and still believe is the single greatest issue facing humanity. He was an experienced and distinguished senator who was thoroughly uncorrupt. I wanted him to be my president.
Over eight years as vice president, the dirtiest thing Al Gore did was make some fundraising phonecalls from his office rather than from another location — paltry even by the standard of scandals in the 1990s, much less the present era of corruption and mismanagement. The worst thing he did was run a lackluster campaign for president, too beholden to consultants, too unwilling to speak honestly and openly.
Al Gore seems to have learned from that mistake. I haven’t seen his new movie, but I did catch him on Saturday Night Live, and I’ve read about some of the things he’s been saying. He opposed the Iraq War at a time when few Democrats were willing to stand up for what they believed in, and he is speaking loudly about the dangerous, pressing crisis that is global warming. He’s intelligent, ethical, decent and in favor of the right things.
Yes, he can be a pedant, insistent on getting the details right and grasping the whole picture. And I so want my country run that way! The slipshod, haphazard half-assedness of the Bush administration has been deadly, costly, destructive and morally depraved. I want my country led by a man who likes all his ducks in a row and would prefer that they not go extinct. I want Al Gore to be my president.