So why don’t I feel relieved? Why can’t I muster much enthusiasm for this race, when at the very least we will finally be rid of the worst American president of our lifetime? Why is it that the only scenario that gives me even a little tremor of interest is a Hollywood-scripted entrance of Al Gore into the race, which now seems not only possible, but inevitable.
Somewhere, strategists are deciding what to do with George Clooney and Gore’s other Hollywood buddies — should they make campaign appearances, or “disappear” for awhile until the red states shade a little more toward purple?
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Gore has to enter the race because I cannot see any possible way that he can lose, and the Democrats cannot be serious if they think that is true of any one of the candidates currently running. Then again, the Democrats can never be underestimated for their uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, or for their depressing — and demoralizing — habit of playing it safe rather than standing on conviction and principle.
In other words, the Democrats haven’t the faintest notion of what real leadership really means. How can anyone take seriously the carefully nuanced position on the war that Hillary Rodham Clinton now takes, or the populist rhetoric of John Edwards? He claims the War on Terror is a bumper stick slogan — and in many ways he is exactly right. So why doesn’t his record match his rhetoric? Look at the records of both Clinton and Edwards, and you will find that when it really mattered the most, they gave their support to President Bush and voted FOR the war, FOR the Patriot Act. Now, like John Kerry, they are trying to have it both ways. When popular support for the war was high, they were for it. Now that popular support is against it, they are against it. Probably just a coincidence, right?
Please spare me the song and dance about the “intelligence” the Senate was getting from the White House. Anyone could see early on that the plan was to tie Saddam Hussein to the 9-11 attacks, and then sell the war to the people on that basis, regardless of whether there was a genuine link or not. Recent polls indicate that nearly half the Americans surveyed STILL believe there was a link between Hussein and 9-11, despite the 9-11 Commission (remember them? A lot of people apparently do not) report discrediting such a link. There are also people who insist that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq just on the verge of being unleashed on innocent Americans, regardless of the overwhelming lack of evidence. Such is the power of propaganda. Tell a lie often enough to a frightened populace, and after awhile it sinks in.
I will never, never forgive the Bush administration for preying on people’s understandable fear and grief after 9-11 to advance its craven political goals, and I will never understand how this man could have possibly been elected to two terms. But let’s not forget that when we needed a champion to stand up to Bush and his minions, to provide courage and leadership in a time of national crisis, to remind Americans that the actual culprit for 9-11 was still hiding somewhere in a cave, we had Hillary Clinton and John Edwards instead. In other words, a president cannot be as bad as Bush has been without accomplices on both sides of the aisle.
Which brings us to Barack Obama. I actually do like Obama, and I might grow to like him more. He does have the advantage of having been against the war from the start, but when I hear him speak, I somehow get a little whiff of both Reagan and Clinton, believe it or not. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not talking about policy, as much as I am talking about a rhetorical style. Reagan was not nearly as well-spoken as either Clinton or Obama, but he had a way of telling people what they wanted to hear without actually saying very much of anything. These are three kings of metaphor. You hear it. It sounds good. But what does it mean? What did he actually say? What is he actually for, or against?
My gut feeling is that Obama, who is 45 years old, needs a bit more experience and might be better this time as the other half of the ticket. I would pay to see him debate Rudy Giuliani, if both were to wind up as candidates for vice president.
No, Gore is the Democrats’ best chance, like it or not. Unless the Republicans can convince the American people that the most pressing issue facing us today is not the war, or the economy, or the environment, but gay marriage, it is hard to imagine how Democrats could lose if and when Gore appears at last, the conquering hero come to save the day. Don’t you think a LOT of people who voted for Bush in 2000 would love a mulligan?