Hope for the White Man in The Democratic Presidential Race


Rolling Stone dares to discuss the dog that isn't barking, the elephant (donkey?) in the room, the dark horse that has not yet neighed, uh, you know, that famed documentarian Al Gore–the real Next President of the United States.

Past one of those kill-me-now "you think I'm talking about some present phenomenon, but really I'm discussing some historical precursor to it" leads that reminds us of the long-forgotten Richard Nixon (two-term VP in era of prosperity who lost his own race with hints of electoral fraud, came back eight years later in triumph–and, as the lead doesn't note, stepped out again 6 years later in disgrace), here are some of their reasons Gore's The One:

He has the buzz to beat Obama, the substance to supplant Hillary, and enough stature to enter the race late in the game and still raise the millions needed to mount a successful campaign. "Very few people who run for president can just step in when they want, with a superstar, titanic presence," says James Carville, the dean of Democratic strategists. "But Gore clearly is one of those. He's going to run, and he's going to be formidable. If he didn't run, I'd be shocked."

He's got the cleanest hands and most Cassandra-like record on the Iraq invasion, and he's even won over the MoveOn.Org and Kossites, which may be a good enough reason to throw dirt on his non-campaign's coffin right now, but still:

Gore's deep ties to online activists could neutralize Clinton's greatest advantage: her fund-raising prowess. Gore retains a network of big-dollar donors from his 2000 campaign, and many of the party's biggest funders are reportedly sitting on their checkbooks, waiting to see if he enters the race. "If Howard Dean could raise $59 million on the Internet," says Carrick, "the mind boggles as to what Al Gore might do." Joe Trippi, who managed Dean's campaign, believes Gore could raise as much as $200 million on the Internet: "Gore may have more money than anybody within days of entering the race."

While pundits never go more wrong than assuming their world of acquaintances is representative of anything other than their own poor judgement, I will note that I know dozens of prog-leaning would-be voters, who I suspect represent a larger constiuency of types who might otherwise lean Green or stay home in numbed disgust, who would be very enthusiastic about Mr. Gore and his inconvenient truths indeed.

With all this going for him, what's the ol' stiff waiting for? Fear of a Bill Planet!

Letting others battle-test Hillary's viability as a front-runner has an added benefit for Gore: It allows him to put off a bruising political confrontation with Bill Clinton. Some insiders suggest that a reticence to take on his generation's most brilliant political mind—and someone renowned as a take-no-prisoners campaigner—is the primary factor keeping Gore off the roster. "It's one thing to distance yourself from Bill Clinton, as Gore did in 2000," says a Democratic strategist who has advised both men. "It's another to run against Bill Clinton when the former first lady is heading the field."

Ah, but perhaps now the time has come…for the student to surpass the master! It'll make a possibly better-than-average campaign psychobiography, at any rate. I'm taking no bets on the Democratic nomination…yet. But the day Gore officially enters, I might be.