Still, I miss Al to a certain degree. His infusion of “populism” into the 2000 campaign is exactly what the Democratic Party and the Country needed. Yet, the Washington Post notes today that Gore will not run in ’08 and also links to a New Yorker story about Gore (Issue of 2004-09-13) that is quite interesting, particularly Gore’s observation of the rihgt-wing. Also the New Yorker story notes that contrary to some press reports, Gore and Kerry got along well as Senators and Al Gore considers Kerry someone who is honest and upfront about his feelings, no matter what they are.
Quips from the Gore story in the New Yorker:
Gore was quick to distinguish the Bush Administration from any predecessor. Things were “much worse” now, in his view, than in the nineteen-eighties. “The experience of the Reagan Administration was in many ways disappointing to the right wing,” he said. “It was satisfying to have a champion who won the hearts of so many Americans and was so eloquent as a presenter of many of their ideas, but it was deeply disappointing to them that he bowed to reason far more than they would have wanted. The largest tax increase in history was not the Clinton-Gore increase in ’93 but what Reagan did in ’82. That was really disturbing to them. His arms-control initiatives, which I was a big part of, were very troubling to people like Richard Perle, who is very prominent in the genesis of the Iraq policy. There was a determination, in the aftermath of the Reagan experience, to prepare themselves for the next opportunity they had. So that they would be comprehensive and uncompromising across the board. Then, when Gingrich and his crew succeeded, in ’94, they laid the foundation for the identification of all the discrete levers of power and particular programs, policies, offices, agencies that needed, in their view, to be transformed. . . . Bush, as a candidate, basically shook hands with this collection of groups that were bound together to respect each other’s respective self-interest. What they had in common was that they were all powerful and had a set of objectives that were counter to the public interest.”
Gore refreshed himself with a long sip of tea. The chops and the greens had been dispatched and a fruity granita, served in tall crystal cups, had been placed before us. He polished off the ice and checked his laptop. Then he began talking about the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the old “bipolar” world.
“One consequence is that there is an emergent triumphalism among market fundamentalists that has assumed an attitude of infallibility and arrogance that has led its adherents to be dismissive and contemptuous of values that are not monetized if they don’t fit into their ideology.”
What’s missing? I asked.
“Families, the environment, communities, the beauty of life, the arts. Abraham Maslow, best known for his hierarchy of needs, had a dictum that if the only tool you use is a hammer, then every problem begins to look like a nail. Translating that into this discussion: If the only tool you use for measuring value is a price tag or monetization, then those values that are not easily monetized begin to look like they have no value. And so there’s an easy contempt, which they summon on a moment’s notice for tree-huggers or people concerned about global warming.”
And yet the Bush ideology is tinged with religious belief, I said. Not everything comes with a price tag attached.
Gore’s mouth tightened. A Southern Baptist, he, too, had declared himself born again, but he clearly had disdain for Bush’s public kind of faith. “It’s a particular kind of religiosity,” he said. “It’s the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. They all have certain features in common. In a world of disconcerting change, when large and complex forces threaten familiar and comfortable guideposts, the natural impulse is to grab hold of the tree trunk that seems to have the deepest roots and hold on for dear life and never question the possibility that it’s not going to be the source of your salvation. And the deepest roots are in philosophical and religious traditions that go way back. You don’t hear very much from them about the Sermon on the Mount, you don’t hear very much about the teachings of Jesus on giving to the poor, or the beatitudes. It’s the vengeance, the brimstone.”
Doesn’t this Gore quote sound like the same stuff we’ve heard from another certain Senator? Kinda like “I’m tired of politicians talking about family values but not valuing families”? Maybe the Democratic Party is speaking with one voice after all.