Monday, October 15, 2007

Al Gore

A little belated, this, but I don't want to let Gore's Nobel Peace Prize pass without comment. I've always admired Al Gore -- even more than I disliked Bill Clinton.

I've been a fan of Al Gore's for a very long time. Back in the day he wrote an article (at least one, maybe more) for Byte Magazine, on the "information superhighway" -- not a surprising phrase from him, since his father, Senator Al Gore Senior, was a big backer of the actual interstate highway system that's now one of the backbones of American commerce. We corresponded briefly about that time, and I recall thinking that this was one of the rare politicians who really got it. He got a ton of crap (most of it dishonest) for his phrase about "taking the iniative in creating the internet" -- which was badly phrased, but as much as anyone in government pushed for the modern internet, Gore did.

He's been out in front on Global Warming. Global Warming as accepted science has followed pretty precisely in the footsteps of the "disputed science" over tobacco being carcinogenic, and CFCs causing the Ozone Hole; long after any fair-minded person could see the truth of both tobacco and CFCs, business interests kept pushing contrary science, and that's where we are today with Global Warming -- and, as with the internet, at least as far as any politician out there, Al Gore was right first. He was brave at a time when George Bush had a 70% approval rating, in speaking out against the Iraq War -- at a time when Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and other spineless politicians were providing political coverage for George Bush. The arguments since then -- over Bush lying, missing WMD, and a variety of other issues -- almost obscure the core fact: the war in Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time. (I was behind the Kosovo action, I was behind the war in Afghanistan: I am not a pacifist. Pure Gandhi-ist pacifism is either a brutally immoral philosophy that asserts that the rights of the innocent are worth less than the rights of abusers and murderers, or it's cowardice seeking cover. I admire Gandhi, but cf Turtledove, he'd have had a bad time of it had Nazis rather than Brits been running India during WWII.)

When I corresponded with Gore I urged him then to run for President (1990 or so) -- Gore had run once already. I volunteered to work on his campaign -- I hadn't done much politically at the time, though I ended up volunteering on two of Dianne Feinstein's campaigns. (I had written a draft of a speech for Gary Hart back in the late 80s -- he used almost exactly one line of it, about the lack of a real energy policy inevitably leading to American soldiers dying in the Middle East. Ironic, that.)

At any rate Gore passed, despite the once-in-a-lifetime chance to employ Dan Moran -- his son had been in an auto accident at the time. Instead a while later he ended up as Bill Clinton's running mate. I can't help but wonder what would have happened had Gore run in '92; he lacks Clinton's charisma, but he also lack's Clinton's many, many failings as a person and leader. Modern politics wouldn't be much less divisive today regardless, but we might all have been spared talk of the blue dress.

Hundreds of years from now Al Gore is likelier to be remembered than either the guy he beat in 2000, or the guy who dripped slime on him for the previous eight years. An Oscar, an Emmy, and a Nobel Peace Prize ... must be great to be Al Gore, right about now.

Congratulations, Al.


Sean Fagan said...

Well, Al didn't win the Oscar, he just accepted it. (Yes, that's a nitpick -- I don't think, in this case, it's really possible to separate him from the production of the documentary.)

I work, in a sense, for him, since he's on Apple's Board of Directors. I've been very proud of that fact since the day it was announced. Because who wouldn't want to claim to work for a Vice President who starred as himself on an episode of Futurama?

I have a higher opinion of Clinton than I think you do (admittedly, my opinion of the man has gone up every day since Jan 20, 2001), but Gore would get a couple thousand dollars from each of us if he decided to run. (And this from someone who called up Feinstein's office to explain that she was the reason I would never give money to the California Democratic Party as long as she was in office.)

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Well, there's nothing better ever happened for Bill Clinton's reputation than George Bush's election. I dislike the guy and I'd be thrilled to have him back, if it meant getting rid of Bush. Clinton was a liar even for a politician -- George Bush used to be, but then he graduated to God giving him instructions, which is not an improvement.

What did Feinstein do to tick you off? I'm not happy with her myself; like most of the Democratic Party's elected officials, she confuses pragmatism with a lack of principles. Or, she's a coward. A lot of them are.

Gore's not running.

Sean Fagan said...

Yeah, I know Gore's not running. We still earmarked the money :). (I'll probably give some money to whoever gets the nom. Obama or Edwards would probably get the max; Clinton would get... less.)

Feinstein's most recent offense, and the last one for me, was voting for the warrantless wiretapping in August. My rep, Zoe Lofgren, voted against it, and Boxer was in the air when the vote happened -- I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt.

This is only the latest offense from her. But there's absolutely no justification for it.