The failure of Al Gore

The plunge from the brink of victory to the pit of defeat must be as unpleasant as it is familiar to the winner of the 2000 popular vote; in his latest essay in Rolling Stone he gives his own best analysis of why he keeps losing. Few American politicians could write an essay this eloquent or this clear. Few people in the world can command this kind of attention for their thoughts. Even so, the results of all this talent and effort are exactly the opposite of what the former vice president would wish; the essay illuminates his shortcomings more than his strengths and makes crystal clear that if global climate policy is going to change, then Al Gore must get out of the way…

But whether or not Vice President Gore’s lifestyle will pass muster on the Day of Wrath, it does not pass muster in American politics. Worse, by hanging out with the glitterati and identifying himself so clearly with the elite against the Great Unwashed, Gore does irreparable harm to the cause he seeks to lead. The Achilles heel of environmentalism in politics has always been its association with upper crust ‘starve the peasants to save the pheasants’ thinking. Gore’s lifestyle and the way he positions the issue strengthen that fatal association rather than undermining it. The more the rich and the well bred applaud his heroism and swoon over his courage, the more sullen and resistant the peasants grow.

Add to this that the Vice President persists in partisanship — taking pot shots not simply at Republicans and conservatives who disagree with him on climate issues, but mocking and scorning precisely the values and views of the people he (ostensibly) hopes to persuade — and he presents the inescapable impression among skeptics that he is not serious.