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Huffington on Gore

There's plenty of speculation on Al Gore's plans for the 2008 presidential election. Arianna Huffington goes to the heart of the matter:

Gore isn't running for office, and already the negative campaigning has begun. This is what anyone who takes a stand faces these days -- politics as demolition derby -- and why so many politicians operate out of fear. But when I asked Gore about it, he was unfazed.

I couldn't help but flash on the stiff, robotic Gore of the 2000 campaign. You could smell the fear on the Gore of 2000. Just as you could smell it on Kerry in 2004, as he ran a campaign that consistently chose caution over boldness.

And it's the same sickening scent that Hillary Clinton is wearing today: Eau de Don't Let Me Screw Up and Flush My Chances Down the Toilette...

Her fear has caused a complete disconnect from who she really is and what she really thinks (that is, if she even knows anymore).

Which is a shame -- both for her and for all politicians who are short-changing the smart, strong, determined leaders they could be. Instead, we get a seemingly endless lineup of fear-driven candidates who, with each new election cycle, become a little more wrinkle-free, a little more foible-free, a good bit less interesting -- and considerably more idea free. They are so programmed to avoid the pitfalls of actually standing for something, we might as well have robots running.

Whether Al Gore ends up running in 2008 or not, he is modeling the way our public figures, and especially our would-be presidents, should be operating -- from the heart and true to themselves. Standing for something more important than just winning, and more powerful than the fear of losing.

Candidates -- and especially Democratic ones -- need to stop fooling themselves that the road to victory is paved with pandering.

George W. Bush's message to the nation has been that we can have our collective cake and eat it, too. We can cut taxes while increasing spending. We can add new entitlements while our deficit skyrockets. We can go to war, but continue about our normal lives. How often has Bush used the word "sacrifice", except in the context of American soldiers in battle? How often has he talked about the sacrifices all Americans must make?

I've felt for a long time now that the public would reach out to someone who says, for a change, that we'll all need to make sacrifices if we're going to maintain our status as the world's leading superpower. If we want to go to war with the help of other nations, we're going to have to listen to their opinions. If we want to balance the budget, we're going to have to raise taxes. If we want to add new social programs, we're going to have to cut others. If we want to preserve the environment, we're going to have to give up -- or pay far more for -- our Hummers, our Escalades, and our G55s.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. I think most people realize that. To hear a candidate say it would be a breath of fresh air.


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Wow, I was thinking about this last night, too. I was making a couple PB&J's and in one of those wierd daydream modes where I imagined I was campaigning for office. I was imagining myself be "real", and fantasizing about a time when a platform of honesty, ethics, and principles might have a chance at winning an election, despite the fact that many folks might disagree with you.

We need a Realist Party or something...

Perhaps "truth in political campaigning" is an idea whose time has at last come?

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