The winner of yesterday’s Democratic debate was Al Gore, who presumably napped in New York while Clinton and Kucinich stood (literally) on soapboxes.
On the whole, the few candidates who seemed even remotely likable appeared that way for mere seconds, and even then only while spewing rehearsed and prodigiously irrelevant nonsense. I was most charmed by the senile commentary of Mike “Doesn’t Matter If I’m Elected!” Gravel (D-AL), who during the April debate called upon Senate Majority Leader Reid to author legislation making the continuation of the Iraq war felonious. He then (perhaps only to invoke the fine tradition of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, released during his early sixties) entrusted Reid with finding the 60 votes necessary to override the filibuster that would (obviously) result. Inspired, I searched diligently to find a position on which Gravel and I agreed, but found such a search to be wasteful after reviewing the transcript from the April debate. Therein, Gravel alleges that Operation Iraqi Freedom was botched “the day Bush invaded on a fraudulent basis” – an argument with which commievegan Dennis Kucinich largely agrees. Regardless, this idea perfectly frames the Iraq issue among the declared candidates. If I were a political consultant for Clinton, I would view this line of thinking as a perfect way to escape my guy’s troubling paper trail. The argument from Clinton – and others who voted for the original appropriation – should be simple. The ultimate problem with the war’s execution was a lack of planning. Of the G8 Heads of State, only Chirac was competent enough to forsee the fact that the war intelligence would become irrelevant the moment American aircraft cleared Iraqi airspace. Chirac, in a rare moment of coherency, argued that a Shi‘aa majority was not a synonym of democracy. He alone predicted the civil war. My theory of poor execution is evidenced by the fact that the US could easily have “won“ the Iraq war – even if it began on the fraudulent basis that Gravel alleges (I assume he references the Powell UN speech / WMD controversy).
Look then at the candidates, each who has worked over the course of the past months to manufacture foreign policy credentials. Obama (who has pandered girlishly in Sudanese affairs) vaguely rambed about living in a more dangerous world after the war. This was essentially correct, but too predicatable. This guy is not a war candidate. Edwards (who hasn’t even bothered to express any international opinions, save Iraq) almost made sense with his amusingly elementary explanation of Congressional con-sti-tu-tion-al authority, but stopped short and then stupidly remarked that “Hillary is right.” Although this briefly challenged for the award of stupidest comment of the debate, the coveted prize was eventually won by Clinton (a self-proclaimed Israeli-Palestenian authority). “We are safer than we were,” she screamed, “…but not safe enough.” Stupid. False.
Enter Al Gore.
Since his 2000 “loss”, Gore has engaged in a wide variety of charity and consulting work that he artifically calls “fulfilling.” Presumably, the Gore camp (and there is a Gore camp) is waiting to make a late entrance. The questionably literate readers of TIME magazine may have noticed the cover story of last week’s edition, which attempted to explore a potential Gore run. Niether I nor TIME has a perfect explanation for Gore’s waiting game. Obviously, a late entrance incubates the possibility of the “breath of fresh air” emotion which has all-to-often swung the new Hampshire momentum late in the game. Delay also voids the possibility of stupid early errors (ie: Obama is “clean!”) and damaging soundbites (ie: “Mr. Gore, you’re no Mr. Clinton (a remark that someone should pay me for (seriously))). Additionally, Gore doesn’t need to worry about name recognition; Hopefully voters passionate enough to vote in a primary will remember the best eight years of their lives during the Clinton reign. Gore can quickly generate necessary funds, and would not require the litmus test that many interest groups use to screen national rookies like Romney. By waiting, Gore can frame his positions more precisely within the context of the remaining candidates rather than resorting to more generalized banter. Gore’s DNC connections have no expiration date. Further, waiting allows Gore to escape the horserace. Instead of listening to misinterpreted polls being pushed by pseudo-meteorologists on the local news, Americans can continue to see Gore as irrelevant – an asset that must be wisely and properly managed.
For having not said a word, Gore is polling beautifully. The most recent Quinnipiac study reveals that registered Democratic voters prefer Gore (16%) to Obama (13%), and that Gore is the best-liked Democrat in Pennsylvania, a swing state being bombarded by Giuliani door knockers. But, for Gore, this is beautiful: When asked, “If the 2008 election for President were being held today, and the candidates were Al Gore the Democrat and Rudy Giuliani the Republican, for whom would you vote?” Gore BEATS Giuliani (45% to 44%, respectively). Gore is, as of today, the only Democratic candidate that approaches Rudy. AND he’s a Mac user!