Like a completely refurbished "pre-owned vehicle," Al Gore seems to be positioning himself to Hillary Clinton's left and greener than John Kerry for a run at the 2008 Democratic nomination for president. His slogan might well read "reelect Al Gore," writes former Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris in a syndicated column Monday. (Excerpted here since some were having trouble getting site to load. Full editorial here.)
The former vice president's slashing attacks on the administration and his stalwart, if misguided, opposition to the Iraq war leave him without the complications and complexes that will devil Clinton as she seeks to appeal to the unforgiving left of the Democratic Party.
And Gore may be a man whose time has come in his party. It was he who warned of climate change and predicted its consequences. Hurricane Katrina was just a fulfillment of the prophesies Gore wrote about in his late-1980s book "Earth in the Balance." He has been an energy-conservation nut for years, and his obsessions with alternatives to oil will play better and better as we come to realize how our addiction to oil has led us to dependency on the dealers of this particular drug - Iran, the Saudi royal family and Hugo Chavez.
The Democratic base's anger at Gore's defeat in 2000 was assuaged by the worse Kerry defeat of 2004. The idea he was an incompetent candidate has been replaced in Democratic iconography by the idea he was cheated out of the presidency. The hiatus has healed his reputation with the base in much the same way the negative rap on Nixon for losing in 1960 was ameliorated by the Goldwater wipeout of 1964.
History indicates that candidates who won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College have all come back to win revenge in subsequent elections. Andrew Jackson, cheated in 1824, won in 1828. Grover Cleveland, cheated in 1888, triumphed in 1892. Samuel Tilden, who won the popular vote in 1876, never ran again, but he dealt away the White House in a deal for the withdrawal for federal troops from the South, allowing the Ku Klux Klan to take over. (By the way, for a great history of how this era kindled the racism we have lived with since, read Eric Foner's new book, "Forever Free.")