Alex Massie

Gore’s Imperative...

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Christopher Hitchens cranks up the Will Al Gore Run? motor for another outing:

On Oct. 12, we shall hear again from Oslo, and I will be very surprised indeed if the peace prize is not awarded to Albert Gore Jr. (Don't ask what a campaign against global warming has done for "peace"; that would be like asking what Mother Teresa or Henry Kissinger had ever done to reduce global conflict. The impression is the main thing.)

So, and if I am right, the former vice president will then complete a year in which An Inconvenient Truth has been awarded an Oscar and he has authored a best seller. Roll it round your tongue again: an Oscar, a best seller, and a Nobel Prize in the space of 12 months or so. Not bad. And meanwhile, the field of Democratic candidates looks—how shall one put it?—a trifle etiolated. Sen. Clinton may have succeeded in getting people to call her "Hillary" and to have made them feel resigned to her front-runnership, but what kind of achievement is that? Sen. Obama cannot possibly believe, and doesn't even act as if he believes, that he can be elected president of the United States next year. John Edwards is a good man who is in politics for good reasons, but there is something about his populism that doesn't quite—what's the word?—translate.

Apart from the awards, not only could Gore claim that he had been a fairly effective senator and a reasonably competent vice president, he could also present himself in zeitgeist terms as the candidate who was on the right side of the two great overarching questions: the climate crisis and the war in Mesopotamia. Should I add that, whether or not he really won the Electoral College in 2000, he did manage to collect the majority of the popular vote? Several people, some of them well-informed, have been saying to me that Gore will wait until the Nobel committee's announcement before he makes up his mind. Should he make up his mind to run, he could alter the entire equation.

I have no idea as to whether or not Gore will run. But a better question might be Should Al Gore run?If we are to judge Gore by his won rhetoric then the answer to that seems pretty clear: yes, he should run and he should make climate change the centre-piece of his campaign. If global warming is the existential threat that Gore says it is then one might think that the planet's greatest political expert on the matter might feel the occasional pang of duty.

If Gore is right - as he may be - then isn't he obliged to run for the position from which he could have the greatest impact upon the climate change discussion? He need not win; his mere presence in the race would ensure that the new president is likely to have to make a greater commitment to addressing climate change than any of his or her predecessors. Bill Clinton signed Gore's Kyoto Treaty knowing it had no chance of passing the US Senate but keen - as ever -to demonstrate good (if cost free) faith and send a signal. Isn't it time for Gore to prove the seriousness of his vision by making one last tilt at the top job? That too would be a pretty decent signal.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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