Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Al Rocks the House at Sundance Yesterday

"Mr. Gore—no longer Bill Clinton’s straight man, no longer the wooden, cautious candidate of 2000—has been raising his profile through a series of impassioned speeches against the Bush administration. They began in September 2002, when he warned against the invasion of Iraq, which he said “has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world.”

He dwelled, presciently, on the risk of post-invasion chaos. That speech and others like it, along with his once-mocked warnings about global warning, have transformed him for Democrats into a kind of Cassandra, always right and always ignored. And his clear anti-war stand is in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton’s obsessively monitored but hard-to-explain position on Iraq. Nobody in Mr. Gore’s political circle suggests, on the record or off, that he is actively planning a run for President in 2008. But the film “falls into the ‘we’ll see if that gives anything legs’ category,” said a major Democratic donor who backed Mr. Gore in 2000 and is in touch with the former Vice President’s circle of friends and allies.

First things first: Mr. Gore has said that he’s not running for President, although he said it in less-than-Shermanesque fashion. And he isn’t touching the same political bases as the half-dozen other men—oh, and that one woman—thought to be considering a Presidential campaign. He’s not massaging donors’ egos or stroking local pols in Iowa and New Hampshire. “He couldn’t be doing less,” said the donor. He’s busy warning of global warming and running an experimental new cable-television project, Current TV, whose viewer-driven, interactive model seems to be arriving at the right time.

And yet. And yet. Two prominent Democrats said that Mr. Gore didn’t discourage them when they raised the prospect of another run. And in some circles, Mr. Gore suddenly appears not just possible but unavoidable. In the new mix of power, money and ideology organized around Ms. David and Arianna Huffington in Los Angeles, in the burgeoning liberal blogosphere and among some of the former Vice President’s old friends, Mr. Gore appears the only alternative to Hillary Clinton. That is rich with irony—more than a decade ago, Mrs. Clinton was Mr. Gore’s foil in the internal squabbles of the Clinton White House.

“If we get to a situation where it’s Hillary Clinton and nobody has really filled the space [Mr. Gore] is currently forging, it’ll be hard for him not to run,” said David Sirota, a Democratic strategist and blogger who has worked with Mr. Gore since he left office."-excerpted from the story in The New York Observer.

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