Gore and Dean

by Kieran Healy on December 9, 2003

According to William Saletan, Al Gore’s influence over people’s hearts and minds is so strong that his endorsement of Howard Dean threatens to undermine the entire democratic process. Because Gore has asked that Democrats fall in behind Dean, victory is assured—at the cost of voters’ rights to express themselves at the polls.

With that sort of power at his command, it’s a pity that Gore didn’t think to endorse himself during the 2000 election campaign. It would have saved him a lot of trouble.

{ 7 comments }

1

Arthur Wouk 12.09.03 at 11:31 pm

Well, yeah, but you must admit that one of the reasons Republicans are successful in general elections for president is that they get behind their guy early. I mean, lots of Republicans at the grass roots level weren’t crazy about George W. Bush in early 2000, but they didn’t make trouble in the primaries because they just wanted some Republican, any Republican, in the White House.

It’s understandable that national leaders in the Democratic Party (e.g. Gore) would wish the same thing for their party. Getting behind one guy (even if you don’t like him) saves money, makes the party unified, enhances your chances next November (maybe). I don’t think it’s a good idea, especially since we’re a couple months away from the first primary, but I can see why people like Gore would like the Democrats to rally behind a candidate ASAP.

2

Invisible Adjunct 12.10.03 at 12:35 am

I’ll admit I wouldn’t have credited Gore with this kind of power if I hadn’t read the Saletan piece. But I now breath a sigh of relief that Gore didn’t prevail in 2000: clearly, the man is power-mad, and would probably like to be the absolute ruler of a one-party state.

What a remarkably silly argument. I’m continually amazed by the facility with which certain pundits crank out facile complaints disguised as serious commentary.

3

Jeffrey Kramer 12.10.03 at 2:04 am

Yeah, that looked like one of those old exercises from Rhetoric class in defending paradoxes: prove that water isn’t wet, show that it is better to have no legs than to have two, demonstrate that endorsing a candidate is a violation of democratic principles. “No ordinary person would presume to tell other presidential candidates to stop criticizing Dean.” And no ordinary analyst would be able to take the most common of commonplaces about party comity and transform it into a Stalinoid command.

Saletan apparently just hates Gore too much to be minimally rational on this topic.

4

Ophelia Benson 12.10.03 at 2:16 am

Really. That’s the silliest damn thing I’ve seen in…well, awhile, anyway.

And fortunately, I have almost as much power as power-mad Gore, because I am a (gasp) Star Poster at Slate, so my rude riposte just now will make that Saletan fella think twice before he says anything so silly again, you betcha.

(I use a pseudonym though, so it’s no good rushing over there to look, I’m deeply concealed.)

5

Davis X. Machina 12.10.03 at 3:56 am

Spot on.

I’ve asked, and asked, and never had it explained to me yet how a Gore who is so Machiavellian and cunning as to be gaming the 2008 Democratic race in his favor now, is the same Gore who was too inept and craven and spineless to defeat a Republican lawn ornamnent in the 2004 general election.

I propose a Two-Gore theory.

I suggest Gore, and Deutero-Gore.

Did wonders for Isaiah.

6

Doug 12.10.03 at 11:42 am

Of course the campaign has been going on for quite a while, even if the first delegates haven’t been selected yet. And it’s not as if the Dean campaign has been exactly a closed-shop operation. It’s precisely open participation that has made him the front runner. I think that nation-wide (global, really) involvement in pre-primary activities is a heckuva lot healthier for democracy and the Democratic primary than delegating the process to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Dean’s campaign has found ways to provide an effective outlet for people whose states’ primaries fall too late in the calendar to make a real difference in selecting the nominee. That’s good news, too.

7

Katherine 12.10.03 at 2:14 pm

Insofar as the race will be over because of this, it will because the press hive-mind decides it’s over. But actually, my guess is they’ll write that Dean has it wrapped up for a few weeks, and then come back with the “OR DOES HE?” storyline in early January, especially if Clark’s fundraising. And then people in Iowa and New Hampshire will vote, and we’ll see what happens. I now think it’s more likely that we’ll know in February as opposed to March, which is almost too bad–I was looking forward to voting in a primary that counted for once–but probably better for the general election.

For people too afraid of lack of objectivity to write serious policy stories, the press is shockingly willing to shape the outcome of an election with a bunch of self-fulfilling prophecies about “process”.

I like Dean an awful lot, but I like Clark only somewhat less. I’d kind of like to see it come down to a two man race. But with the front loaded calendar & the unwillingness of others to drop out, I don’t know that it will.

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