More on Gore

For those who aren’t fans of Hillary Clinton, and would like to see just about anyone get the nomination besides her (and I know there are none too few of you hanging out around here), you may be interested in the latest from The New Republic’s Ryan Lizza, who suggests that Al Gore may be the only possible candidate who can beat Clinton.

In a round of calls with Democratic strategists, I could find few signs that Gore is doing much of anything to ready himself for a presidential run. But what I did find is that many Democrats think there is a powerful case for Gore to get into the race. In fact, Gore may be the only Democrat who can beat Hillary Clinton.
Lizza notes that Clinton “comes to the race with all of the benefits that historically accrue only to sitting vice presidents”—name recognition, star power, an enviable and unrivalled fundraising network, pull among key constituencies—and has been maneuvering herself in such a way—hawkishness on Iraq, social centrism, photo ops with conservative adversaries—that is “hailed by pundits and Democratic strategists as brilliant politics.” Those are, I would assume, the same Democratic strategists whose own brilliant strategies have handed the presidency and both houses of Congress to the GOP, making it completely unsurprising that they are, once again, out of step with many liberals, who cite the same maneuvering as reasons for disliking (and distrusting) Clinton. Lizza continues:

In fact, the anti-Hillary field is already carved up into two camps: those who are positioning themselves based on the electability argument and those poised to mount an ideological challenge from the left. Senators Joe Biden and Evan Bayh, as well as a cadre of red-state governors like Mark Warner, Tom Vilsack, and Bill Richardson, are in the electability camp. War critics like Russ Feingold and Wesley Clark are in the ideological camp.

But Gore is the only anti-Hillary candidate who can credibly attack her on both fronts.

According to Lizza, Gore can mount a strong electability challenge as both someone with a competitive donor network (and the associated name recognition) and someone who is now viewed as a Washington “outsider,” which may be an essential component of the 2008 election, as it has been during other times of broad dissatisfaction with the Beltway regulars. As for an ideological challenge on what may be the biggest election issue, the Iraq War:

Gore might be the only Democrat who can solve a vexing issue facing the party: How does a candidate establish a reputation for toughness on national security while simultaneously criticizing the war? Gore supported the Gulf War and, in most Clinton administration battles over the use of force, he took the more hawkish position. He is the party's only credible antiwar hawk.
I would argue that Wesley Clark is probably widely regarded as credible on this issue, too, if not specifically as an antiwar hawk, but this would be, undoubtedly, one of Gore’s political strengths.

Lizza also suggests that Gore’s got ideological cred, as it were, because he would instantly be the netroots’ favored candidate—owing to a reverence for Gore built on lingering bitterness over the 2000 campaign and recount, Gore’s endorsement of Dean, and his choice of as the forum for his most important speeches. I think that’s a bit of a miscalculation, rooted as it is in the mistaken but popular assumption that the netroots spontaneously emerged as a single organism, throbbing to the beat of its own soaring, collective voice chanting “Dean!” and “Moveon!” That’s not to suggest Gore might not end up, as I hope him to be, the favored candidate of the liberal netroots, should he decide to run, but considering Gore isn’t yet the instant favorite even of readers of this blog, no less across the blogosphere, I think it’s little more than the mythical reimagining of Dean as a universal choice; he was not.

Dean came to be a favorite because of his strong antiwar stance and his willingness to take on the Bush administration with both barrels at a time when no other candidate seemed capable of the same ferocity. He also advocated gay rights, fiscal responsibility, universal healthcare, and lots of other positions that were in alignment with modern liberal ideology. The ideological case for Gore is not that support for him avenges 2000, or that he will walk a fabled trail blazed by another candidate four years earlier; it is that Gore has advocated the same himself during his long political career. When one of the primary criticisms of the presumed nominee, Clinton, is disingenuous opportunism, a long-term politician whose liberal positions don’t change with the breeze offers plenty of reasons to support him, aside from his endorsements. And that’s important, because the netroots aren’t unanimous, and will never be. Gore’s got to have real reasons to earn their vote. I think he does.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus