Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pondering Gore

I've been thinking about this piece by Ezra Klein. I'd been wondering the same thing for several weeks, if not months since the election. Is Gore worth another look? He's certainly embraced a much more fiery tone, and his remarks last Wednesday to the MoveOn.org gathering, while not stunning in their style, were nonetheless encouraging for their bold attack on the theocratic movement, even naming names (Dobson, Perkins).

So, should progressives give him serious consideration? I don't know what the answer to that question is yet. Fortunately, we have three years until the official primary season is upon us, and maybe at least two more years until candidates begin setting up exploring committees and raising cash.

But as much as I like the new Gore, I think there are problems. Of course he would carry the stigma of "loser", although he won the popular vote in 2000. Worse, it wouldn't take much for the media to resurrect much of the same baggage that haunted him last time (the Internet reference, no governing legal authority, etc), and while his approach to issues and tone of speech have evolved, his general style and charisma have not. And I'm afraid that his new tone, while an accurate reflection of the challenges the country faces from the right, are too angry to bridge the gap between liberal base and typical voter. Most of all, I don't think he's done much to make himself likeable, and ironically, any attempts to do might only worsen his image. I admire his new fight, but think it probably would be best if someone else carried the banner.

And who might that someone be? Although I panned him for his pro-bankruptcy "reform" vote, Joe Biden might be the best candidate Democrats could put forward. Mind you, I've not even in the vacinity of having a favorite candidate at this point, I'm merely making an objective determination based on a number of factors. He would be taken seriously on the national security front. And while he isn't especially charismatic, he comes across as more approachable and believable than either Gore or Kerry appeared. And he took the trouble to chastize Republicans and the radical right for their court and Justice Sunday shennadigans during a speech in Columbia, SC (of all places) last month. So he demonstrates at least some awareness of the looming threat from conservative totalitarianism that to me is so important.

On economic issues, Edwards would be a more satisfying choice. But I'm afraid his relative inexperience and boyish appearance could be a detriment. I've also not really heard him take on the religious right. Maybe he has. But if he runs, I would like to hear him address the cultural issues head on.

The other candidates as I see them are Hilary, Russ Feingold, Bayh and Warner. Of the four, only Feingold could be considered a progressive.

It's early, but never too soon to be thinking of who our standard bearer should be next time, and perhaps most importantly, what sort of platform and selection of issues they should run on.

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