Some of the grimmest news of the election season trickled out last week when word came down that the Clinton campaign, increasingly desperate to halt Hillary’s decline in the polls, is about to inflict Al Gore on the American public once again.
The nation’s leading climate change bellyacher has been mostly off the radar of average Americans, delivering lectures at TED Talks, writing op-eds for The Wall Street Journal about “sustainable capitalism,” reviewing books for The New York Times about how man is causing mass extinctions, and so forth.
Gore will likely spend most of his time on the stump wringing his hands about his loss in 2000 to Bush.
That is, he’s been roaming the elitist halls of the Establishment, preaching to the upper-crust choir about hot summers and melting icebergs. That the Clinton campaign thinks one of the hoariest pillars of the Establishment is the answer to its problems suggests exactly why it is having problems: It doesn’t get that the source of Donald Trump’s strength is a rejection of people like Al Gore.
Gore, who was raised by his mother and U.S. senator father in a fancy hotel in Washington, is exactly what voters are rebelling against this year. Americans already dumped him once in 2000 when they decided even the son of a former president, namely George W. Bush, would represent change better than Gore.
Gore, like Clinton, ran on a status quo platform tied to a popular incumbent president. Gore managed to lose — even though, as Bill Clinton’s vice president, he was the natural successor to a popular president.
With a majority of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, Clinton has acted only to reinforce her image as the standard-bearer of the Establishment, choosing a running mate who was once the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and campaigning on a platform that seeks to augment President Obama’s failed policies.
Instead of pushing her forward, having Gore on the campaign trail actually puts Clinton even further in the past, helping make her the once and future candidate of the status quo.
What’s more, Gore can be painful to watch. He’s an even more disastrous campaigner than Clinton. Most Americans old enough to watch at the time remember the horrific embarrassment Gore inflicted on himself trying to intimidate George W. Bush at a 2000 presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri.
[lz_third_party align=center includes=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAUcyfKESts]
Gore is being unleashed primarily to convince voters not to punch the chad for third-party candidates, who are eating into Clinton’s support. A nationwide Quinnipiac poll released last week had Clinton leading Trump by 5 points. With Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein tossed into the mix, Clinton led by only 2.
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Convincing voters of the urgency of global warming is probably not why Gore is being recruited. In a Pew poll conducted in July, the environment ranked 12th among issues people said were very important to their vote.
Instead, Gore will likely spend most of his time on the stump wringing his hands about his loss in 2000 to Bush, a race that many believe might have gone the other way but for left-leaning Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. In Florida, the state that decided the race, Bush beat Gore by only 537 votes. Nader, who came in third, tallied 97,488 votes, no doubt drawing far more from Gore than Bush.
By emphasizing the potentially catastrophic consequences for Democrats from a strong third-party candidacy — like eight years of George W. Bush — the Clinton campaign hopes Gore will steer the election more toward a two-person race.
But there is probably a darker side to Gore’s presence on the scene. The 2000 election and the Supreme Court decision that gave Florida to Bush remain deeply controversial, stirring angry memories among Democrats of what they think was a stolen race. Gore’s presence in 2016 tells liberals and moderates not to let it happen again by supporting a third-party choice.
The problem for Clinton is that support from people like Gore, and the thinking that led to putting him into the fray, is what will cause her to lose in the first place. With the economy stuck barely expanding at a rate of about 1 percent, debt levels heading toward $20 trillion, growing racial unrest sweeping the nation, immigration altering the character of the country, America’s standing plummeting overseas, and anger growing over trade deals routinely struck over the last two decades by the Establishment of both parties, Americans want change.
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Gore is more of the same. And, even worse for Clinton, he’s a blast from the past.
Keith Koffler is editor of the website White House Dossier and the newsletter Cut to the News.