Wednesday, June 6, 2007


After reading David Brooks’ nasty, ad hominem attack on the The Assault on Reason in the NYT, I felt I needed to check out Al Gore’s latest book for myself, so I headed for my local Borders. What I found was a very lucidly written, un-pompous and insightful critique into the role the corporate television and radio media have played, and continue to play, in the dumbing down of America. The networks do this by depriving the American people of vitally-needed information about issues such as the war on Iraq, global warming, poverty, the lack of health insurance, and on and on. Instead, TV viewers are left with JonBenet Ramsey, the Georgia runaway bride, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc, ad nauseam - and, on a more serious note, the semi-fascist Lou Dobbs on Broken Borders.

To me, the quality of Gore’s writing equals or surpasses the kind of excellent material that is today fortunately available on the Internet (Gore was there at the beginning!), on sites such as TruthOut, our own PA, Counterpunch, and other progressive electronic news outlets.

Gore also recognizes the wave of political activism the Internet has energized, spurred by such e-roots organizations as MoveOn and a host of environmental, labor, and peace groups.

Coupled with Gore’s hard-hitting political critique is a real appreciation of literature and the printed word. He has a genuine literary flare of his own, and a remarkable ability to popularize important issues of contemporary ethics, philosophy, and science in a clear, straightforward way.

Having obtained this picture of Al Gore’s way of thinking and writing from his new book, I am coming more and more to the conclusion that he is now badly needed in the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination and the Presidency.

Imagine the level of debate - and consequently action – that would ensue if a real thinker sat in the White House – one who is a defender of the environment and an articulate opponent of adventurist wars. Contrast that to what we have now!

There are many other writers and organizations espousing views like Al Gore’s in a manner similar to his, but none of these individuals are experienced politicians like Gore. How quickly the intellectual and political atmosphere in the US would be cleared of its cloud of pollution by a Gore presidency!

As for the other candidates, I think that Hillary Clinton is far too centrist and opportunistic, and far too entangled in the considerable ethical baggage her husbands brings to bear. Thus she is vulnerable to the worst kind of Republican attacks. Obama also strikes me as centrist and opportunist (not that many politicians aren’t). He also can be attacked for a lack of experience. Edwards is right on union issues (the Free Choice Act) and quite good on expanding healthcare coverage, but there is a personal injury lawyer/hedge fund/coiffure problem that adversely affects his image, which, coupled with charges of a lack of political experience, are not going to go away. Gore himself has moved beyond the centrism of the Clinton administration and the former DNC. He moved on from that centrism by tackling the issue of global warming and vehemently opposing the Iraq war. He also knows how the Florida vote was stolen from him and the critical importance of electoral reform.

With 17% of Democratic voters now opting for Gore, even though he is undeclared, I think he would do the country a real service by running and raising the issues he knows so much about – how far ahead of the pack he was on the critical issue of global warming!

We are at a crucial political and environmental juncture in this country. In terms of the survival of the earth and fending off of global warming, we still have a window of opportunity. There is also time left to tackle all the problems of poverty, discrimination, and the lack of health care and union rights. But if a right-wing “moderate” like Rudy Giuliani becomes President, we will be plunged even deeper into the swampy, free-market morass in which we are now stuck.

I fear that Giuliani, if he gets the Republican nomination, is slick enough to defeat Clinton or Obama, especially with all the well-paid, media-types he will have in his corner (talk about an assault on reason!). Al Gore, I think, is the only Democrat right now who can stand up to Giuliani or any Republican candidate. He now has acquired the gravitas to make them all look puny. As he amply shows in his new book, Al Gore can really write. He also is someone who can win.


Anonymous said...

Peter Zemer's points are very well-taken. Most politicians get worse over time, whether they are successful or unsuccessful. The "sytem" makes them that, in that politics is about business--raising funds and making deals to keep the funds rolling in and saying certain things to please your customers(the voters) and doing other things to please your investors(the "vested interests" of the capitalist class mostly and for some progressive politicians, labor to a much lesser extent).
Gore has gotten much better over the years, It is hard to believe that he was once, meaning in 1992, the New Republic's candidate for President.
He has used his intelligence differently than let's say Richard Nixon, a despicable amoral political figure filled with hatred and fear who spent his life seeking to increase his power(whose "positive accomplishments" were unintended consequences
of the drive to increase his power) or Bill Clinton, who perfectly represented the modern capitalist politician, flattering his customers with promises and charm and pursuing policies that benefitted his investors and made him he most "conservative" Democratic party president since Grover Cleveland, although, you can always blame the Republican Congress if you wish, although I think that his failures gave us 12 years of Republican congressional power.
Gore is now articulating progressive policy stands that are much better and much better developed than anything that he has presented in the past. At present, in terms of someone who could possibly get the nomination and win the election, he is by far the best candidate. In terms of his overall abilities he may be the best candidate period.
I say this as someone who only started to vote for Democratic presidential candidates when there were no CPUSA candidates on the ballot and also voted voted for Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000(I consider the latter vote the worst mistake a made in voting in any presidential election, and I have voted in all of them since 1968, given the consequences).
I wouldn't take David Brooks so seriously. He strikes me as both a NY Times "token" and a George Will imitator, without Wills bite.
Norman Markowitz

Joel said...

I don't disagree with Peter or Norman's points.

But I am inclined to believed that as a whole, the Democratic candidates are pretty much the same.

Let me clarify that I don't think they are the same as the Republicans. They are miles apart. Anyone with a brain cell left after six years of Bush can tell that.

But, I think that the balance of forces in Congress after 2008, the mood of the people, the activism and strength of the labor movement, and the various peace and justice movements, will play a big role in determining the specific outcomes of any Democratic presidency.

And I believe this of a President Hillary as much as I believe it of a President Kucinich or Obama or Richardson.

I am also inclined not to believe that Gore will get into the race. Though it is interesting that on "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann last week he noted that there are 500 days until the election, which hints of him keeping track of the campaign schedule.