Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gore Casts Challenging Shadow Over Democrats

Last Wednesday Al Gore released this short video stating unequivocally that gay and lesbian couples should be permitted to form legal unions.



If you haven’t figured out what Al Gore is up to, I think I have. I could be wrong, but I think Gore has decided to be the conscience of American politics, rather than run for office. This is not the only short “policy position” that he has tossed out there in the past several months, despite his clear decision not to run for office.

I don’t think there is a more sought-after endorsement among Democratic candidates, but Gore’s will not come free of political controversy – which is great thing. Gore has drawn some lines in the sand. Any Democratic politician who wants his nod, will have to step across those lines and associate himself or herself with Gore’s positions. These spineless ones always try to hedge their bets. Have you heard a single Democrat come out during the campaign and say anything close to what Gore just said? Of course not.

I believe that if either Obama or Clinton were to humble themselves before Gore and associate themselves with his positions, they would absolutely gain the Democratic nomination. So, (if John Evo knows so much), why don't they? Simply because of political calculations about how much potential harm it would do them in the General Election. This is cowardice, but there is nothing new about it. Each candidate would like to be able to sell themselves as the most perfect flavor of vanilla to mindless America.

The only way we "win" is if Obama and Clinton battle to a standstill (leading to a brokered Convention) and Gore is ultimately drafted by the Democratic Party. If you think that might happen you are probably a big fan of the lottery.

19 comments:

the chaplain said...

Gore's carved a pretty good niche for himself as a voice of political conscience rather than an active political player. I truly wish that the Supreme Court had elected him instead of Shrub 8 years ago. Even though, on one level, I don't blame him for not running again, I'd really prefer to see him enter the race rather than coach from the sidelines.

The Ridger, FCD said...

For what it's now worth, Kucinich said: "I believe that equality of opportunity should be afforded to all Americans regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation. For that reason I support the right of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons to have the full protections and rights afforded under civil law including the right to marry the person of their choice."

But I think you're right. Running is no longer anything that Gore is interested in: not running allows him the freedom to say what he wants to say, what he believes, instead of what will let him win.

Bill Clinton - perhaps he has no choice, given that he's married to a candidate - is surrendering that position, and Gore is uniquely qualified to fill it.

The Exterminator said...

Good for Gore. I knew that he'd released this video, but I hadn't actually seen it. Thanks for posting it on EBS.

Sadly, Gore's announcement of this position sounds "brave" because the two leading Democratic contenders have been largely silent on this issue in the past few months. Obama's too busy trying to portray himself as a "committed Christian". I was surprised and impressed to hear how clearly Hillary supported federal civil unions. Check out this conversation with Ellen. However, that was back in smug September, before Obama became a real contender. Even then, though, Hillary really waffled on gay marriage. Ellen should have asked: If some states legalize gay marriage, doesn't the Constitution require that all states recognize those marriages as legal?

I think your analysis about getting the Gore nod is right on the button. They'd both like it, but neither one of them are willing to take principled stands from which they can't easily retreat.

It would be nice to hear Gore say something loud and clear on the need for separation of church and state.

John Evo said...

@ Chappy - Agree 100%.

@ Ridger - I tend to agree with Kucinich more than any other candidate, but he was never viable. Now he's out anyway.

@ Ex - Despite the fact that Gore is a theist (or "deist" - I'm not entirely clear) you will find that he is closer to you than any other major Democrat on the issue of Separation of Church and State. He was absolutely clear on this in his book "The Assault on Reason". Gore is a strict Jeffersonian Constitutionalist.

the deacon said...

Any political party needs one or two Deans who act as their thoughtful conscience. The Deans speak on a host of issues in a thoughtful gracious cogent manner without a personal axe to grind. Such Deans should never give their endorsement during primaries lest they loose their balance and broad hearing. I hope you are right in your evaluation as the Democtats need just such a voice. Even without his wife being a candidate, Bill Clinton does not have the personality to be such a balanced thoughtful voice.

PhillyChief said...

That's an enviable position. Over time he could be like the elder from The Seven Samurai. Oh shit, we're in trouble! What do we do? Let's go consult Gore...

Brendan said...

Good for Al Gore for publishing this statement, and good for you for hosting it, John.

I don't see Al jumping into the race anymore, unless something really weird happens. I'm happy to see him acting as a conscience of the party. Would that his former running mate displayed as much post-administration decorum.

I think you're right about the Democratic candidates not really wanting to make a stance of pro-gay marriage their most visible issue, and I'm sure there would be some squirming if Al's endorsement came bundled with that. On the other hand, IIRC, the Dem candidates (except for Bill Richardson) were all pretty good on the issue when asked about it, lo those many months ago. None of them were as forceful as I would have liked, of course, but there are realities of politics to consider. I suppose it's easy for me to say, being straight (and not looking to get married at the moment, to boot), but it's my sense that tolerance for gays is steadily increasing, and within a generation, sexual orientation will be a non-issue for a significant majority of the public. I've heard fundies admit this -- they know they can't sell this particular message of hate very well to their kids. It just doesn't take. Sucks for gay couples right at the moment, but at least it's something.

Lifeguard said...

I am not necessarily a big fan of the lottery... but I do dream of winning some day.

Hey... you never know!

Babs said...

I officially have a big, huge, strictly platonic crush on Al Gore now.

And I want him to have my babies. Oh wait, that's not platonic, is it?

I do want to hug him, though.

John Evo said...

Come on, Babs. You've just been listening to too much music over at the Meme Pool.

ordinary girl said...

I think in 20 years gay marriage will be a normal part of our civil system. But then if you had asked me 8 years ago, I would have thought the same then.

Even though gay rights have taken steps forward the way they've been stymied by the American public and politicians pandering to the religious. It's an embarrassment.

Ex Patriiot said...

I would love to see Gore drafted,but I don't really expect that to happen. He should have been president in 2000 but the poison oak shrub stole that one and we have been itching ever since.I also agree with him on marriage and or civil unions for gays and lesbians. I look for the day when it will come to pass.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

OG, I agree. It's inevitable. I think, the more religion loses its grip on the national psyche, the more you'll see public acceptance of it. In a small way, we actually have George Bush to thank for that.

Ex
Ellen should have asked: If some states legalize gay marriage, doesn't the Constitution require that all states recognize those marriages as legal?

Actually, it doesn't. There is a lot of case law that says that no state has to give full faith and credit to a law from another state that violates the public policy of the enforcing state. The States are free to set their own public policy (read: morality).

PhillyChief said...

That's something that I've come across on a number of issues, that issue of state sovereignty, both between state and state and state and Feds. An example of the latter is CA's medicinal marijuana. The state sanctions stores and licenses to grow, and the Feds periodically make raids, seize and destroy property and make arrests. Two laws butting heads, state and Fed.

John Evo said...

@ Ex Patriot - welcome! Are you an "Ex Patriot" or an "expatriate"?

@ OG - I'm afraid the lesson you should learn is that you are being overly optimistic. Look how long it has taken to "normalize" race relations in this country since the end of slavery.

@ SI and Philly - so the deal is basically that there are some broadly interpretable rights under the Constitution and exactly how they are implemented is often left to the states, correct? This would explain the many decisions where the court just passes on looking at the cases and returns them to the state?

PhillyChief said...

I believe there's a gray area between who has the final word, no doubt a layover from the nation's founding to get all the states to sign. In some cases, the Fed imposes it's will through might, as in busting Segregation in the South with the National Guard, sometimes with money by withholding funds like it did to bring the states in line on a national drinking age and what they're doing now with Abstinence programs. I'm not the lawyer here, but I can't think of any successful instances where a state opposed a Fed law and was allowed to do it. I don't count CA's marijuana law as successful at the moment.

PhillyChief said...

Oh wait, maybe NV legalization of prostitution?

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I don't think there is a Fed statute proscribing prostitution, so there is no conflict. Same with regard to gambling. It's really a rarity for there to be a conflict between the feds and the states. 200 years of jurisprudence has pretty much worked out what is fed territory and what belongs to the states. With marijuana, as I understand it, the feds get involved because of the social nature of drugs, and a need to apply some uniformity across the states as to what is a controlled substance. The FDA regulates most drugs, and everything else is illegal. That can come into conflict with the states, but it is also why back in the 60s you could get 99 years for possession of a joint in Texas, but a slap on the wrist in other states.

Where you have a problem is between states. To give you a hard example, I had a case where two people entered into a written agreement where wife waived child support in New York. The agreement was enforceable in NY, but not in PA, where the law was that two people could not bargain away the rights of a child to support. I filed for child support in PA, and the court, on objection, said the NY agreement was unenforceable, so sucks to be dad. The rationale is that despite the fact that NY law says one thing, PA didn't have to give full faith and credit to their law, because it violated PA public policy.

That was probably more than you wanted to know.

John Evo said...

Probably. But that's true with 90% of the things I learn.