Gore, Clark, Kos, and the 2008 Election
by Tom Rinaldo, Tue Jul 24, 2007 at 05:20:16 PM EDT
For readers of tea leaves, the omens have not been favorable lately for a 2008 Gore Presidential run. For one thing, the man himself still sounds decidedly less than enthusiastic about the prospect, and there are those supposed semi-insider leaks that say Gore spoke more positively in private about the prospect two months ago than he has of late. Jimmy Carter seems convinced that Gore won't run despite having personally urged Al to throw his hat into the ring. Now there is a report quoting his daughter Kristen saying at a book signing for her second novel that; "He's really not going to get in the race."
We have come to the near end of a dramatic run of events that have deservedly kept Al Gore's name (and his mission) centered in the public eye. Starting with the release of "An Inconvenient Truth", furthered by a campaign that organized many hundreds of simultaneous nation wide viewing parties, followed by "An Inconvenient Truth" winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Al Gore has been on a deeply meaningful and productive roll.
Al Gore then published a high profile political book offering his unvarnished take on what is wrong with America; The Assault on Reason, which led to high profile book promotion opportunities both in the media and in person. Most recently Al Gore produced and hosted the world wide series of concerts, "Live Earth", which highlighted the global environmental crisis facing all of us, which also spawned hundreds of viewing parties all across the nation. Finally, the Draft Gore movement capped all of this off with the delivery of 100,000 signatures on a petition to Al Gore, urging him to run for President. The buildup has reached a climax, the stage is set, but Al Gore isn't seen standing in the wings, adjusting his bow tie, waiting for the curtains to open on a spot lit podium with a microphone pre- adjusted to his height.
There are no clues leaking regarding an important pending announcement concerning Al Gore's political plans, though now is the time when I would expect to start seeing them. Instead the few clues scattered like wayward bread crumbs tend to be discouraging. Does this prove that Al Gore won't run in the primaries as a Democratic candidate for President? Obviously it does not. Even if Al Gore's current thinking leads him away from that choice, that could still change in time for him to make a run of it.
Over the late spring and into summer, national polls have been tracking Al Gore's support among Democrats for a Presidential run. The results seem to indicate that Gore is clearly competitive, but they don't show Al Gore leaping easily to the front of the pack. And after an initial pattern of rapidly rising polling numbers, more recently Gore's support seems to be stabilizing, somewhere in the thick of the upper tier of candidates. To me that indicates that the Democratic nomination will not be handed to Al Gore on a silver platter, he will have to fight for it. If Gore wants to fight for it, I think that he can win. But does he want to fight for it, at this stage in his career, given the crucial mission Al Gore already has underway, one that frequently transcends partisan politics? Only he can answer that question.
As those who know me already already know about me, I remain a strong supporter of Wes Clark for President, though obviously it is far from certain that he will run in 2008 either. People differ on how far from certain a Clark candidacy is. On one end of the spectrum some believe the word remote doesn't begin to describe how likely the chances are Wes Clark will still announce for President. Others feel the stage is now set for Clark to enter the race, and that the moment is rapidly approaching for Wes Clark to make his final decision. Time will tell soon enough. To me it has long been obvious that if Al Gore wanted into this race the space for him to enter it has clearly been reserved. Al Gore earned every one of the hundred thousand signatures on the Draft Gore petitions that recently got turned in.
To be blunt, there hasn't really been room for more than one shadow candidate to haunt the current Democratic field, and given Al Gore's deserved current high profile, it is he who casts the longest shadow. So it is natural that Gore's name immediately comes up whenever speculation about another Democrat entering the race breaks out. Personally I would be glad to support Al Gore for President in 2008. I think Gore would make both a great candidate and great President. But what if he really doesn't run?
For those who have read my Diaries in the past, you know I have frequently promoted Wes Clark for President, but have you noticed that I've refrained a little from doing so lately? My reasons are actually explained above. I felt the opening to run was Al Gore's to seize now if he wanted it, and I have been holding back, waiting for his thinking on that choice to become a little clearer. Up until now I felt confident there was ample time for events to play out as they may, time enough for Wes Clark still to declare if Al Gore decided not to. Now however, that time is growing shorter. How much shorter is another matter open to debate, but I suggest that the Labor Day weekend is the essential end point for Clark to clearly signal, at least informally, that he intends to be a candidate for President in 2008. Al Gore has the option to enter the Presidential race later, whether or not Wes Clark also declares; Gore is the man who won the popular vote in 2000, and by now most Americans know he is the man who should have been sitting in the White House for the last seven years. Wes Clark however, can't wait much longer.
The title of this Diary invokes Gore, Clark, and the 2008 election, but also Kos, so maybe it's time for me to explain why I included Kos. I think the Yearly Kos Convention that is about to happen is a crucial moment for Wes Clark and any chance that he will run for President in 2008. Most readers of this Diary already know that Wes Clark will deliver the Keynote address to Yearly Kos on Friday morning, the first full day of activist business there. No I don't expect Wes Clark to then make his presidential plans known one way or the other, but it will be a significant moment regardless. During that weekend in Chicago, dozens of the most influential bloggers in America will gather together, listen to, and meet in person most, if not all, of the Democrats actually running for President. They will be joined there by many hundreds more committed political grassroots activists drawn from every movement and all corners of our nation.
The impression of Wes Clark that Yearly Kos attendees leave Chicago with may well factor into Clark's ultimate decision. For the first time since the DNC Winter meeting, Wes Clark will share the same political spotlight with the Democratic men and woman who are already running for President. Will you be attending yearly Kos in Chicago? If not, will you be one of many thousands more who tune into what takes place there through the internet from afar? If so I ask one thing of you, especially if you have not already committed to one Democratic candidate, body heart and soul. Focus closely on what Wes Clark has to say at Yearly Kos, focus closely on how Wes Clark is received by fellow Democratic activists at Yearly Kos.
Here is why I ask. If there is one moment in time when some words of encouragement to Clark from us, some expression of appreciation to him for the service he has given and continues to give to America, might in some small way influence Wes Clark's final decision, it will be in the weeks immediately following Yearly Kos. I address this especially to those of you who still hope Al Gore will yet enter the race for President. Gore very well may, but he very well may not also. It is accurate to say that Al Gore has not yet locked the door and thrown away the key to a possible 2008 run for President. But it is accurate to say that Wes Clark has intentionally left that same door wide open. Of the two men, Al Gore and Wes Clark, Clark is now the one more likely to actually run.
Some Democrats are quite content with the current field of Presidential candidates. Others are not. Clearly those of us still urging either Al Gore and/or Wes Clark to enter the race fall into the latter category. I believe we do so for many of the same reasons. I view both Al Gore and Wes Clark as seasoned, visionary leaders and statesmen. I view both men as true patriots willing to say what must be said, and do what must be done, to bring about core essential changes to the course America is now on at the expense of their own careers if need be, and that is the type leadership I think America and the world needs today, and that is the type of leadership that can carry the Democratic Party to an historic sweeping electoral victory in 2008.
So I would not ask any supporter of Al Gore to turn away from your dream of him becoming our President in 2008. It still may come to pass. Given Al Gore's standing in the Democratic Party he could enter a crowded field late and still emerge as victor. If Wes Clark enters the race soon that would not kill Al Gore's chance to enter the race later with a good chance of still winning. But now is the time, for those who are so inclined, to encourage Wes Clark to declare his candidacy for President, if you believe it is important that at least one of these men run in 2008. I honestly now doubt that Al Gore will run. I am more than open to being proved wrong, and I am not convinced that he won't run. Al Gore still has ample time to decide. Wes Clark does not, and in his own words he "thinks about it every day". No doubt Wes Clark will be thinking about the decision to run for President in the days that immediately follow Yearly Kos. If you want Wes Clark in the race, now is the time to let him know. If you are not yet sure, now is the time to pause and consider Wes Clark seriously, and Yearly Kos is as good a place to do so as any you can find.
After Clark delivers his speech to Yearly Kos my plan is to start a Diary over at the blogging area of Wes Clark's own web site; Clark Community Network. That Diary will be very short, so short in fact that I can already tell you what it will say. It will ask "Why do you want Wes Clark to run for President?" I hope to see many of you over there then.