Gore Wins Nobel Prize, Some Hope He’ll Run

Life must be good for Al Gore right about now.  He has won an Oscar for his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, an Emmy for his work on Current TV, and his book Assault on Reason was an immediate bestseller.  Now sweetening what must already seem an enchanted time for the former Vice President, Al Gore has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for their combined work on raising climate change awareness and advocating actions to counteract the phenomena.

But, the question many Americans really want the answer to is, will it be enough to get him in the 2008 presidential race?

Likely not.  Logistically and politically, he wouldn’t have much of a chance.  Unlike Fred Thompson who had a non-campaign up and running for months before finally announcing the race, Gore has little more than a bunch of people that want him to jump in, and no organization in key early states, or anywhere for that matter.

Also, the polls don’t show it’s time.  If ever there was a time for Gore to run, it would have been a couple of months ago when his hypothetical poll numbers were on the rise, or a year ago when they were at their peak.  By contrast, aggregation of his polling position shows him below all three frontrunners and heading in the wrong direction.

On top of that, Al’s a smart guy, and he has to know what the political landscape looks like now.  Gore is perhaps only slightly less polarizing than Hillary Clinton, and has endured similar right wing smear campaigns for just as long, if not longer.  The 2000 race saw the apex of personal attacks on his character, and the media essentially punished him every time he opened his mouth.  Further, his work on Climate Change may have won him the support and admiration of many ecologically concerned citizens, but with this also came the ire of many on the right who have taken up a crusade against any action inregards to Climate Change whatsoever.

Indeed, while his work on Climate Change has been something of an altruistic passion, compare his work to the intentions of our current sitting president who has made it clear he intends to make money by delivering speeches, many have taken the opportunity of his work to continue to impugn his character and condemn him as a liar and a slave to his own ego.

Of course, these are just political reasons not to run.  The most important factor, of course, may just be that he doesn’t want to.

But that’s not the nub of it either. Hillary is just a sideshow; the main event is unfolding deep inside Gore. Consider: He put himself in position to win the Nobel by committing to an issue bigger than himself — the fight to save the planet. If he runs for president now, he’ll be hauling himself back up onto that dusty old pedestal, signaling that he is, after all, the most important thing in his world. Sure, he’d say he was doing it because he feels a moral obligation to intervene in a time of unparalleled crisis. But running for president is by definition an act of hubris, and Gore has spent the past couple of years defying his ego and sublimating himself to a larger goal. Running for president would mean returning to a role he’d already transcended. He’d turn into — again — just another politician, when a lot of people thought he might be something better than that.

And he’d be risking a hard-won happiness. Gore is happier these days because he is living the kind of life he always wanted to lead. He’s happier these days because he is free from the excruciating requirements of electoral politics, the glad-handing and the money-grubbing that drove him deeper into himself the more he was forced to reach out. And, finally, he’s happier now because he has been vindicated. The Nobel is an acknowledgment that Gore was right about the greatest global threat we face (and that this is the year when most everyone else finally figured out he was right). Winning the Peace Prize may not place Gore among the global saints, the Nelson Mandelas of the world; but it does place him among the laureates who are beloved in some quarters and loathed in others — those highly charged Prizewinners like Jimmy Carter.

While many would like to believe that Gore is a self absorbed blow hard, his life after leaving office in January of 2001 has not been about himself, but instead about causes that he feels very deeply about.  The Climate Change issue that he won the Nobel Prize for, and repairing the national debate by encouraging two way media which was a significant focus of his book Assault, and resulted led to him to help cultivate Current TV, for which he won the Emmy.

As a private civilian, he has been able to focus on those projects he wishes to focus on, and to do so without having to worry about the political backlash of those who would disagree with him.  He is, essentially free, and just going on the campaign trail would greatly hamper that.  Winning the Oval Office, and he would be chained down to that job for a minimum of four years.

It might provide some solace that the man who barely scraped a win from him seven years ago is now one of the most hated men in politics, and is disapproved of by seventy percent of the population.  There may be some vindication that those who voted against Gore in 2000 may wish they had cast a different vote.  But don’t look for Gore to try and reclaim what many believe was rightfully taken from him.

He’s got better things to do.

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