But first, some interesting things from the interview:
...You look at him and you can’t help thinking how bizarre it is that this particular political figure, perhaps the most qualified person in the country to be president, is sitting in a wing chair in a hotel room in Manhattan rather than in the White House.
He’s pushing his book “The Assault on Reason.” I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.
The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.
Mr. Gore takes a blowtorch to the Bush administration in his book. He argues that the free and open democratic processes that have made the United States such a special place have been undermined by the administration’s cynicism and excessive secrecy, and by its shameless and relentless exploitation of the public’s fear of terror.
The Bush crowd, he said, has jettisoned logic, reason and reflective thought in favor of wishful thinking in the service of an extreme political ideology. It has turned its back on reality, with tragic results.
So where does that leave Mr. Gore? If the republic is in such deep trouble and the former vice president knows what to do about it, why doesn’t he have an obligation to run for president? I asked him if he didn’t owe that to his fellow citizens.
If the country needs you, how can you not answer the call?
He seemed taken aback. “Well, I respect the logic behind that question,” he said. “I also am under no illusion that there is any position that even approaches that of president in terms of an inherent ability to affect the course of events.”
But while leaving the door to a possible run carefully ajar, he candidly mentioned a couple of personal reasons why he is disinclined to seek the presidency again.
“You know,” he said, “I don’t really think I’m that good at politics, to tell you the truth.” He smiled. “Some people find out important things about themselves early in life. Others take a long time.”
He burst into a loud laugh as he added, “I think I’m breaking through my denial.”
I noted that he had at least been good enough to attract more votes than George W. Bush.
“Well, there was that,” he said, laughing again. “But what politics has become requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I find I have in short supply.”
Check out the whole thing. I feel Al's pain. But to a couple of points raised by jurrassicpork's commenters:
...Bush and Cheney and crew have not squandered the people's money, they have stolen it. The worth of Mr. Cheney's Halliburton stocks have gone from under $200,000 to over $8 million. That is quite a coup...
...I would correct Al on one point: the Bushies are not dreamy eyed idealists who acted on an extreme ideology.
They are businessmen, trying to make a buck every which way, and if they have to make nice with the preachers and make up stories about terrorist boogeymen to get money out of wallets, and set Iraqi babies on fire to get money out of Iraqis wallets, they will do so.
They are no more ideologues than Tony Robbins or any other huckster with a late night infomercial.
The Bushies mistake was underestimating American and Iraqi intelligence by a more than a few points.
The difference between Bush and his dad is the difference between a mugger and a con man. Both steal your wallet, but you say thank you to the con man and hope to do business with him again...
There is one point missing: Maybe Vice President Gore would have read and taken serious the memo claiming "Bin Laden determined to strike in the US" and would have saved another 3000 lives...
Gore would've been the best assurance this country could have had that the terrorist threat in the nine months before September 11, 2001 wouldn't have unfolded to the tragedy we ultimately endured at Bush's hand. Given that, he still would've been dogged by endless costly and fruitless investigations, and baseless, trivial accusations from the imbeciles on the right. Regardless of our standing in the world at his hand, regardless of the good he would've done - he would've been hounded and jeered the entire way without cause.