There are three serious Democrats who are running, or seem likely to run, for president: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. But collectively they fail to occupy all of the available space and, indeed, leave a rather clear gap. What’s lacking is an avowed leftist candidate with gravitas. Hillary is not running as a leftist and is not perceived as such by her party. Obama, though now running as a euphemist, is clearly a man of the left. However, his gravitas quotient is roughly zero. Then there’s Edwards — to the left of Hillary at this time and with more gravitas than Obama, but not terribly convincing in either regard.
Now, many leftists may not consider gravitas necessary or even desirable. But most probably have some sense that the electorate as a whole appreciates this quality. Hence, the opportunity for a fourth option.
And it’s pretty clear that Al Gore is that option. Orginally a centrist new Democrat and later an ideology-free Clinton stooge, he now is solidly ensconced in the Democratic left by virtue of the attribute that matters most to it — virulent, near-hysterical hatred of the president. On top of that, he owns the issue of global warming, notwithstanding his eight years as the number two man in an administration that did virtually nothing on this front. Finally, as a former vice president and significant player in national politics for almost 20 years, his gravitas is a given.
This is not to deny that Gore has serious liabilities or to suggest he’d be an instant front-runner. Gore is at best an uneven campaigner with major likeability problems. Yet he did outpoll President Bush, and would have done so by a larger margin but for Ralph Nader. Since then, his stock has probably gone up, although his relative absence from the stage may have something to do with this. My guess is that Gore would leave fewer potential Democratic presidential votes on the table than Hillary Clinton would.
But, even six plus years after his devastating 2000 loss, is he prepared to lay it all on the line again in the face of stiff competition?
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