Marginal Footnotes

Gore Marginalia
May 22, 2006, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Gore Marginalia, Media, Politics, Uncategorized

I created a new category for Gore-related material called Gore Marginalia, where you'll be able to find relevant discussions of Gore and what I think is an inevitable presidential run.  To start it off:  

In its Saturday edition the Guardian ran a profile on Al Gore and his new film, An Inconvenient Truth (see trailer here).     According to the article, which quotes Joe Klein, Al Gore is done with political consultants:

'The crucial change in Mr Gore's outlook arises from the bitter fights he had in 2000 with his own consultants. Obsessed by polls, they persuaded him to water down his proposals on climate change so much that the man who had helped negotiate the Kyoto protocol ended up doing little more than railing against the high price of petrol.

"He held a meeting about a year and a half after his campaign was over, with his closest supporters, and he said, 'If I ever do this again, it's going to be without consultants – I'm going to say what's on my mind,'" said the veteran political columnist Joe Klein, "and he's been pretty much that way ever since." (Almost uniquely among prominent Democrats, for example, Mr Gore vocally opposed plans for attacking Iraq long before the invasion.) "But is this a precursor to a left-populist campaign against Hillary Clinton, or is he just stumping on something he really cares about?" wondered Mr Klein. "I don't know."'

This of course is of a piece with the increasingly loud Internet-based push to devalorize political consultants within Democratic Party politics (led largely by Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos).  No one seems to be asking why political consultants work for Republicans and not Democrats.  The point is not that consultants are intrinsically bad, that all political consultants should be shitcanned, but that an entirely new breed of political consultants find and exteriorize the person behind the politician.  Poll testing of message will be supplanted by a display of emotion, passion, honesty.  In a word, this is 'authenticity'.  What Moulitsas and others are really about is creating a new political consulting niche for themselves.  In the end it would be less a deprogramming of candidates than a reprogramming, with nothing much changing but the programmers and the program.  The program itself is fairly simple, one which was embodied by Howard Dean:

'Dean was spontaneous, unscripted, showed a sense of humor, and said something that might actually cost him support'.

Whatever.  That Dean was more unsuccessful than Al Gore (and John Kerry) is irrelevent, of course.  What really bothers me about this debate is that its advocates have pretensions of revolution and novelty, when what they are proposing is as old as the, uh, hills.  Really, the solution isn't getting rid of political consultants.  It's finding better candidates, ones savvy enough to separate the bad advice from the good.   

[Thanks to Greta for pointing me to the article.]


P.S. Oh, check out the Draft Gore website.

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