July 29, 2005

Al Gore

The Best President America Never Had
Mr. Gore had proposed using the now-nonexistent budget surplus to strengthen Social Security. He also backed a Medicare prescription drug program that used the government’s buying power to yield volume discounts - a tremendous savings to taxpayers. Mr. Bush has been a spendthrift of historic proportions - he first engineered huge tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, then started screaming about how Social Security was "bankrupt." Bush’s "privatization" scheme for Social Security was designed to benefit Wall Street, not retirees. His Medicare prescription drug program was not structured to benefit the elderly, but rather the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

Mr. Gore supported conservation and fuel-efficiency, touting the emerging technology of hybrid automobiles. Mr. Bush ridiculed those vehicles and allowed energy companies to set America’s energy policies in secret meetings with Dick Cheney. (Mr. Cheney, of course, also ridiculed the idea of using energy conservation as an aspect of a national energy policy). The result, of course, is that the foreseeable oil needs of China and India are skyrocketing, demand is at an all-time high, and domestic gasoline prices are over two dollars a gallon.

Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Gore would likely have carried over a Clinton administration focus on terrorist cells and Osama bin Laden. On the other hand, the Bush administration was actually dismantling America’s anti-terrorist infrastructure at the time of the September 11 attacks. Bush & Co., of course, totally ignored a written warning proclaiming "bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." Would a Gore administration have connected the dots and prevented the horror of 9/11? That, of course, is impossible to assess. What is crystal clear: No administration could have done worse than Mr. Bush and his people. [..]

The difference between a Gore administration and the Bush administration is a stark reminder of what America could have been, and what it has become. Barring a political miracle, we still have more than three years remaining of Bush’s second term, with an impact horizon extending decades beyond. As we seek to endure the times we now live in, it’s worth speculating on the man who might have been the best president this country never had.
Count me as one of the early supporters of a presidential run in 2008 for Al Gore. It is still be big if that he will run but, he is the most capable and qualified candidate in a potential field of Democrats and Republicans.
Gore, if anything, starts in a better position than Hillary. Already defined as a credible candidate, there's nothing Republicans can do that'll make him look unfit to lead (the country, indeed, already voted for him once). If he can keep his recent speaking style, boring won't apply, at least not so much. His credibility with the left-wing of the party is massive and real. Unlike Hillary, who inspires a fair amount of distrust, Gore's endorsement of Dean and his alliance with MoveOn have turned the ultimate establishment candidate into something of a left-wing insurgent. That should make him a fierce online fundraiser, with small donor rolls that'll dwarf even Dean's, a particularly important strength since that great sucking sound you've been hearing is Hillary hoovering all the early money.

But maybe the best argument for a Gore candidacy is that he'd be a capable president during a time when we need one. Read any biography of Clinton you like, you'll invariably exit with the impression that Gore would have been better in the Oval Office than Bill. The guy's an expert on military policy, an experienced hand at foreign policy, and understands the coming energy issues in a way few do. [..]

But it's the foreign policy credentials that, for me, seal the deal. In this period, Democrats should seriously consider nominating a highly competent candidate whom the country, to some degree or another, already trusts. Unless Cheney runs, something I see as overpoweringly unlikely, a mostly-unknown Republican will be taking the stage. Gore can claim more national experience than absolutely anyone they have. And at this point in time, with iraq proving a mess and terrorism remaining a threat, that may be crucial.
Al Gore in 2008!


Post a Comment

<< Home