Al Gore and the Buyer's Remorse Primary
Josh Marshall's blog reports that a collection of onetime Al Gore staffers met for dinner last night in Washington, and the sense was strong that Gore isn't running in 2008 after all. While Democrats looking at their presidential selection pool haven't expressed the same level of dissatisfaction bordering on despair that Republicans seem to be suffering, there's no question that Gore's absence from the race leaves many partisans a bit sad and unfulfilled.
As someone who disdained Gore in 2000 but has come to admire him very much since then, I somewhat share this sentiment. HIs being denied the presidency through cheating, lying and strong-arm tactics set the tone for the disastrous years since then, with the worst administration in American history; if only they'd been as incompetent at winning political fights as they've proven to be at everything else. That Gore has grown in stature, figuratively as well as literally, since then, just adds salt to the wound of the Bush years.
I still maintain that his not entering the race shouldn't surprise anyone: fat people can't win in America, and Gore is big as a house. But there's time to drop the weight, and I don't think the "news" from this dinner really changes a thing.
Gore won't "jump into" the race in that he'll run in the primaries; he doesn't want to come down from the clouds, and after what the press did to him in 2000, it's hard to blame him. Not to mention that this was a guy who, unlike the president he served from 1993-2001, never seemed happy or even comfortable engaging in the theatrical aspects of politics. But he will keep his powder dry and stand ready to come to the rescue if/when the party needs him next year.
The scenario is that there's either a deadlocked convention--not very likely IMO--or, far more likely, a massive case of buyer's remorse after Hillary Clinton wins the nomination with 35-45 percent in every primary and polls show her losing to McGuliomney by 5-10 percent, despite the 20 percent advantage a generic Democrat has over a generic Republican.
Right now, about 50 percent of those polled from the general electorate claim they won't support Hillary no matter what. A year from now, that number could go even higher: I believe that for Hillary to win the nomination she'll have to throw the patented Clinton sharp elbows--and, in doing so, will alienate supporters of Obama and Edwards to the point that they'll be open to a third-party candidate who broadly shares their values and worldview. My man Mike Bloomberg still could be that guy, though the polls don't show much potential support for the short, divorced Jewish mayor who's enjoyed drugs and talked some smack over the years. But if it's not Bloomberg, it'll be someone else--Oprah, Jim Webb, a former general or two. Polls will bear out this hunger for a third option, and they'll also show that as HRC sinks, Al Gore rises. The pressure will build for him to get in.
Would he do it? Who knows. But if you're determined to hope for a Gore '08 candidacy, that's your scenario: he wins the Buyer's Remorse Primary.