"Triviality and Artifice and Nonsense"

Bob Herbert contrasts not just the current president, but the current GOP presidential frontrunner, Giuliani, with the man who should have been president, Al Gore, and finds both GOPers wanting in today's The Trivial Pursuit. It's the bits about what Gore said the last time Herbert spoke with him that are the most heartbreaking, though:

Mr. Gore knows the system is in trouble, and not just because of the way he lost in 2000. The last time I spoke to him, a few months ago, he said: "Having served in the White House with the Gingrich Congress, and having watched the best of intentions so often turned into small changes ballyhooed as revolutionary, sometimes having no lasting mark, I really do believe that fixing the dynamic of democracy is an urgent task."

That's just the kind of thoughtful comment that can't get a real hearing in our sound-bite politics.

...Al Gore is a serious man confronted by a political system that is not open to a serious exploration of important, complex issues. He knows it.

"What politics has become," he said, with a laugh and a tinge of regret, "requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I have found in short supply."
And that would be why he won't be running for president again. We've let our political system become a place in which serious wo/men with serious ideas don't even have a place anymore.

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