Obama Gets “The” Endorsement: The Lousy Timing of Al Gore
Perhaps one day someone will write a chapter about Al Gore in a new book titled “Profiles In Uncourage.”
Democratic presumptive Presidential nominee Barack Obama finally got what he and former rival Senator Hillary Clinton had pined for all these months — THE endorsement from former Vice President Al Gore.
But it came so late in the game that the person who’ll be most impressed with it will be Tipper Gore.
Did anyone think that after the smoke had cleared and the choices became Obama and GOPer John McCain that Al Gore would announce: “I am here to say that I am throwing my considerable weight behind John McCain for President of the United States!!”
Gore’s endorsement — which will generate lots of news stories, sound bytes and blog posts (like this one) is the biggest anti-climax since reporters started wondering if Ralph Nader would run for President again, and Nader announced he would.
Its dramatic impact is akin to the raging question: will a last minute revolt at the Republican convention lead to Ron Paul’s nomination?
But the political world and media greeted his Big Announcement with what a fisherman finds when he puts his face close to a fish he just caught: baited breath. Here’s a bit from the AP (and we promise to only quote a little bit here because of the controversy over you-know-what-use):
Al Gore made his debut in the 2008 presidential campaign Monday night, encouraging voters to back Barack Obama because “take it from me, elections matter.”
The former vice president’s speech at the Joe Louis Arena was part endorsement and part blistering attack on the man who denied him the White House eight years ago.
“After eight years of incompetence, neglect and failure, we need change,” Gore said. “After eight years when our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need changes.”
The problem is this: for months Clinton’s backers and Obama’s backers have been praying for an endorsement from Gore almost as much as they were praying to see some huge scandal about the rival candidate plastered as a screaming headline on the Drudge Report.
Members of both factions looked to Gore to show his hand, raise his eyebrow, give a debate-like sigh — anything to show that he endorsed one candidate or another at a time when it looked as if the party could be torn asunder.
But Gore, who enjoyed a status far more lofty and impartial than his former boss Bill Clinton who in campaign 2008 had seemingly morphed into a political machine ward heeler, stayed out of the fray.
What’s wrong with that? This: Gore had been perceived as a party leader. A big gun. Someone who could take a stand when it mattered.
His endorsement tonight was akin to someone who enters a boxing ring after the bout and after the ring has cleared and starts cheering for one of the fighters when no one is left in the ring.
Gore will STILL get his cheers from Democratic partisans, particularly from Obama supporters. But here is one inconvenient truth:
For all of the enemies he has made, for all of the lack of loyalty he has shown to his former party, former Gore running mate Independent Senator Joe Lieberman has shown more courage this primary season than Gore. Lieberman has opted to be McCain’s combination campaign best bud, translator (when Lieberman tells the press what McCain REALLY meant), anti-Obama campaigner, McCain outreach agent to Jewish voters and angry Clinton supporters — even though it has earned him the enmity of many Democrats, the Internet’s progressive “netroots,” and even some anti-war independent voters.
Love him or hate him, Lieberman bit the bullet.
Gore chose to chew on it and chew on it and chew on it, seemingly hoping that the metal bullet would turn into cud.
Gore chose to emerge as an above-the-fray Democratic party elder.
But leadership like he showed on the endorsement front is just what many Americans don’t want in the White House in 2009.