Saturday, July 22, 2006

WaPo: Michael Grunwald Suggests Al Gore For 2008 VP

"I'm already involved in a campaign, but it's not a campaign for a candidacy, it's a campaign for a cause. And the cause is to change the minds of people all over the world, especially in the US, about why we have to solve the climate crisis. If we don't do that, the rest of it doesn't matter at all. It won't matter how you are rebembered in the history books if there are no history books. And no one to read them!"

- Former Vice President Al Gore [Speigel Online]

WaPo: Michael Grunwald Suggests Al Gore For 2008 VP

I'll preface this op-ed by saying how much I admire Al Gore and all he has so selflessly done for the American people. Since his excruciatingly painful (and dubious) loss to George W. Bush in 2000, we've seen our nation's international reputation head toward the dustpile. I'd been disappointed and disillusioned when Al Gore had announced that he would not run for President again in 2004, and I often wondered why he would have chosen to let that opportunity slip away and wait another four to eight years to run again in what would surely be a new political world (in light of 9/11 and the immoral Iraq War.) "The gap" gave him time to become more of a trusted authority on Global Warming, an admirable pursuit standing to be of immeasurable value for America and the world. "The gap" also provided George W. Bush with another four years to turn America even further toward the kind of policies that have been a severe detriment to our freedom and progress.

I have been greatly impressed by Mr. Gore's great skills as an orator since he lost that close election to one Supreme Court vote. Pain and adversity can create greatness in us. Yet, his uncertainty and reticence to be a fiery contender in 2004 left the Democrats with an open spot that I personally believe could not have been filled (in a winning sense) by any other candidate at the time. I wish he had not turned away from the timely challenge while it was calling his name so strongly. He blinked.

Eight years later, there are potential 2008 presidential candidates who have the fire (including John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama). After the bitter division the country has witnessed in Congress for the past five and a half years, these energetic politicians are willing to do whatever is necessary to not only eke out a win in November 2008, but to run away with the majority of votes from Democrats, Independents, and a good majority of Republicans disgusted with the status quo. Mr. Gore is concentrating on environmental issues, and this should be our number one priority, because if we don't have a healthy and sustainable environment, then nothing else matters because nothing can survive (see his own quote at the heading of this post). Mr. Gore has already said that he is uncomfortable with the everyday logistics of the campaigning-life, but he's clearly not uncomfortable with what he's been doing out amidst the people around the nation as he rallies against Global Warming. He has told us that we only have ten years before climate change starts to destroy humanity, and I would rather see an Al Gore who is politically strong, leading, and devoted than an Al Gore who is edged out by a McCain-style Republican in the 2008 general election. If you don't think it could happen, I'd ask you to think again. Remember that, as a Presidential front-runner, Mr. Gore would have to answer to every talking point held to his head like a gun by the Republican party about the pre-9/11 handling of terrorism.

Mr. Gore's own words, as spoken to Spiegel in this interview, were:
I'm a recovering politician. I have run four national campaigns. I have been there and done that. I've found other ways to serve my country and I enjoy them.
Why should we doubt his sincerity? Still, what if Al Gore was willing to take on a high-profile position with which he was familiar and comfortable?

If Michael Grunwald hadn't publicly suggested it first, I probably would have. Al Gore has sage-like wisdom; a politics-shunning humility; he has public respect and admiration; he shows the patriotic desire to serve his country. Judging from the following exchange at Spiegel, I would question whether he'd even consider serving as a VP:
SPIEGEL: Should you have done more about climate change when you were in the White House?

Gore: Well, I enjoyed being in the Clinton-Gore Administration. I'm proud of the work we did. I helped to get the breakthrough at Kyoto and I worked very hard to make changes in US environmental policy. But it wasn't my administration. I shared in it. And I learned in that process that the most urgent need in the US is to change the minds of the American people....
And later in the same interview:
SPIEGEL: And The New Yorker called you "Mr. Ozone," like a superhero. The Economist believes you're a viable rival to Hillary Clinton. Don't you feel at least a little bit flattered that everybody considers you a candidate for 2008?

Gore: Sure. I'm only human. But I'm also old enough now and have been through enough in politics not to take that very seriously. I'm already involved in a campaign, but it's not a campaign for a candidacy, it's a campaign for a cause. And the cause is to change the minds of people all over the world, especially in the US, about why we have to solve the climate crisis.

Would he be willing to spend four to eight more years serving as our Vice President with the opportunity to sharpen the focus on his anti-Global Warming agenda? For me, an Edwards-Gore ticket would be beneficial for America. I think about the effect of this scenario coming true.

Think about Al Gore casting all ego aside and standing behind one other person who could lead extremely well on general issues without the pre-9/11 anvil hanging heavy over his (or her) head, while at the same time standing beside one cause in which he believes so much that he would be willing to make such a humble sacrifice. It would have a powerful influence over the way voters saw both candidates on the Democratic presidential ticket and it would increase political capital as more of the public united in supporting the vision of the two convincing candidates on the ticket. The face of American war would change as we began to focus on poverty at home and throughout the world while leading toward a cleaner and more sustainable global environment with alternative energy moving in to replace our hostage-like dependence on oil.

Dick Cheney was able to focus on the neo-conservatives' goal to get an unnecessary war on in Iraq while he was in the powerful Vice President's seat. Think of an honest person like Al Gore with a productive progressive goal in the same seat and with the same amount of time on his hands as the scheming misleader Cheney, accomplishing a goal that would move us toward oil independence and a return to international cooperation on protecting the environment.

It's just a thought.

I deeply admire and respect former Vice President Al Gore. I cried for him and for this country in December, 2000. Little did I know back then just how much America would come to lose. I believe that his political and personal hesitancy to run in 2004 would be a negative for him in 2008, especially since he was a pre-9/11 leader of the highest profile. Some would say it's never too late, but I disagree. Following Mr. Gore's movements closely over the years, I have come to believe that he has experienced enough adversity, pain, success, and joy in politics that, when he tells us something here in 2006, that he means exactly what he says. We trust him. We need him to serve in whatever capacity he thinks is best for America. We can use his great wisdom and leadership. He isn't just a rhetoric machine with his finger in the air so he can see which way the political wind is blowing. He's made environmental issues his life's work. I consider him to be invaluable to America. My personal hope is that he would not take Mr, Grunwald's idea as any form of an insult, but instead as one of the greatest opportunties for success for all of us.