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Stephen

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October 15, 2007

No White House Run: Al Gore Has All the Prizes He Needs


Al Gore is not running for president next year. Nor should he. His being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday will once again stoke the fires about a potential Gore presidential run in 2008. But at this point, Gore has made it abundantly clear that he does not plan to seek the presidency again, and it's about time those expecting him to do so just give up.

Gore's Nobel, which he will share with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, may be read as a condemnation by the Nobel Academy of the Bush presidency, just as Jimmy Carter's prize four years ago was. But it also marks the latest triumph in a series of them for a man who appeared left for dead politically less than a decade ago.

The former vice president has had a remarkable run since his loss to President Bush in 2000, in which he became just the second candidate in U.S. history to win the popular vote but lose the election. Gore can now add "producing and starring in an Oscar-winning film and winning a Noble Peace Prize in the same year" to his list of firsts.

In addition to the Oscar, the Nobel, a new TV network and a "Saturday Night Live" hosting stint, Gore has essentially put the issue of global warming and climate change in the limelight by himself. Gore has led a movement to take something that was hardly discussed by anyone but environmental activists 10 years ago and put it on the mind of everyone from governments to big business to everyday citizens.

But despite all that, it appears all anyone wants to talk about in regard to Gore is whether or not he'll be running for president. Liberals seem to either wish for Gore to "ride to the rescue," or to avenge 2000, while conservatives seem to want to get more licks in or to be proven right that Gore has had a "secret evil plan all along" to once again seek the presidency.

Yes, I know that most Americans now realize that Gore would have been a better president than Bush, that our country and the world would be better off had the hanging chads fallen the other way back in November of 2000. A convincing argument could be made that Gore has accomplished more as a non-president in the last seven years than Bush has while in office. But the fact remains that Gore is not interested in running for president. He has said so repeatedly and time is very much running out.

And really, why would he? Gore is now beloved in a way that once seemed unimaginable, especially after the Republican campaign to trash him in 2000 (as vividly described by Eugenia Peretz in last month's Vanity Fair). Why throw that all away, along with all of his nonpartisan work, just for another campaign?

Gore announced in December of 2002 that he wasn't running in 2004. It's now about a year later in this election cycle than that announcement was in that one. He has raised no money, has hired no advisors, has established no exploratory committee, has gotten on no state ballots and has made no moves whatsoever to undo any of the above. All of the battles for fundraisers, donors, top consultants and every other aspect of a presidential campaign were begun months or even years ago.

And besides, it's not like 2008 is a scenario in which the Democrats have no strong candidates, or need Gore to defeat a Republican juggernaut. Unlike four years ago, it's the GOP that's the party in disarray, and any of the top three Democrats could likely defeat any of the Republicans. There's a "Draft Gore" movement, of course, but drafting movements have tended not to work so well in politics the past few decades.

Just as the Hillary Clinton-obsessed right, led by Dick Morris, refused to give up on the idea of a 2004 Hillary presidential or vice presidential run until about the weekend of the Democratic convention, Gore's supporters (and enemies) seem to believe, against all odds, that he's about to jump in the race. Here's the scoop: He's not. Let him enjoy his Nobel, and actually enjoy life out of politics.

 

2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.

 

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