dirty rag

Election 2000 - Al Gore is Bulletproof - Winfield Patterson

Albert Gore's name will forever be synonymous with brilliant, spectacular, stupefying failure -- to "pull a Gore" will henceforth mean to be righteously outsmarted, to flail meaninglessly against Fate, to be so consumed with hubris and blind ugly ambition that one is willing to burn down the house just to avoid repainting. Gore is a tragic hero in the classic Greek tradition -- he is undoing himself with his own Will. Watching this has been both fascinating and horrifying, like nothing else really. Only Nixon looked this bad.

And that comparison will be made. I am sure that Albert Gore will look worse in history than Bill Clinton ever could. Sure, Clinton was impeached. But a case can be made that his impeachment was politically motivated, and the culmination of a partisan pecking party.

Have you ever seen a pecking party? In a chicken coop, if one chicken has a spot of blood visible on its feathers, the other chickens notice the blood and begin to peck at it. Soon, the whole coop is full of dead chickens after they've torn themselves apart.


Politics is about power -- who has it, who wants it. But more than that, politics is also about exploiting weaknesses, real or perceived. Bill Clinton knew that all he had to do was somehow throw enough blood Newt Gingrich's way and the chickens would turn on him. And Newt never had Bubba's magic, never had the sheer gall, the unmitigated power to look the camera dead in its unblinking eye and turn the tides. Bubba could do it sans script, off the cuff, hungover and with another bimbo in the closet and you would believe him.

Al Gore is not Bill Clinton. The only reason he won the popular vote is because the Republicans treated him like Bill Clinton for far too long during the campaign. It wasn't until September that they began treating him like an entity unto himself. Bush's campaign has lucked into the presidency. And Al Gore is losing more credibility every day, looking more and more like the sycophant that he is, crying over what he believes is His Office, His Destiny, His Mandate. No politician since Nixon, or possibly even Johnson, has been so blind to reality.

Don't kid yourself. Al Gore will not be any sort of challenge in 2004. Yes, he got more votes than any Democrat in history. Yes, he has a strong base of support. No, there aren't many people in the Democratic wings with the strength Gore currently has. But Gore will be defeated in the primaries, early and hard, by an activist Senator Lieberman, or possibly Senator Clinton.

Bill Clinton will defend himself impeccably from nuisance lawsuits designed to further defame and discredit him and keep him forever away from the public. He will "rediscover his humility" in a brilliant public relations campaign in the spring of 2003, loaded with photo opportunities of "Humanitarian Clinton" or "Regular Guy Clinton" or "Teacher Clinton" just in time to campaign with his wife for the top job. Not a happy fate for the Man from Hope.

The inauspicious fate of ex-presidents has been well-documented. Nixon spent years trying vainly to curry favor with the top political brass of the day, writing book after worthless book, and sending sycophantic cards to Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. Ford plays golf. Carter has done some good work, and is probably the most respected ex-president of the bunch. Reagan's fate is tragic and terrible -- I've read that he spends the day raking leaves out the swimming pool, never noticing the gardeners who dump the leaves back into the pool right in front of him. Bush Sr. skydives, and makes occasional trips to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where he is revered as a direct descendant of Allah. He also campaigns for his sons, and pulls strings. But the fate of ex-vice presidents is worse. Ex-presidents garner a certain amount of attention wherever they go -- they are barraged by requests for interviews by PBS affiliates, and historians looking to make their careers over coffee with "The Man Who Once Ran It All". Ex-presidents can look forward to invitations from foreign dignitaries, and choice tee times at Augusta and Pebble Beach. But ex-veeps -- who don't go on to The Big Desk -- are left with a secret service detail that cannot function without gallons of fresh coffee every day and guns loaded with only one bullet, a la Barney Fife. Their Celebrity Pro-Am golf partners are always sitcom stars from the Seventies, or Wayne Newton.

Gore is destined to go where all failed activist Vice Presidents go -- Paradise Valley, Arizona -- to play golf with Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale and occasionally Gerald Ford. Al Gore will be the most popular professor of history at Arizona State University within three years, and a regular on the motivational speaker lecture circuit giving speeches to company men on "fighting the good fight" and "never giving up". He will know many insurance salesmen. And that, friends, is a fate worse than death.