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.