So Al, You Gonna Run?
Al Gore gave a great speech. It was the speech of his life. He made the case against the administration and for America. He spoke simply and boldly. He took positions that were clear and without equivocation.
It was a speech that everyone should have heard but few did. It was a speech that should have been widely covered, well reported and repeated via the media everywhere it could go. It was not widely broadcast, it was not well covered, it was not widely reported.
What now? Does Al enjoy his applause, take a bow and walk off stage?
That's up to Al. Artistically, his speech was a roaring success. But if he wants to make a difference, if he wants the things he said in his speech to matter, his speech failed.
Gore's speech failed -- in the sense that it did not bring about change -- for two reasons. The Bush administration has proven that the way things work is that you have to take a simple idea, or a set of simple ideas, and repeat them over and over again.
Sorry, but one speech doesn't matter. If he wants what he says to matter, he has to make a speech every time Bush does. And he has to continue to be as clear and bold and forthright and righteous as he was in this speech. Over and over again.
But how does he get the media to pay attention to such speeches?
In that narrow context, the quality of the speech doesn't matter. The quality of the reasoning, the insights, the clarity, the fervor in the speaker's voice, the vividness of the images and metaphors, the truths or falsehoods contained therein -- none of that matters much at all.
What matters is the standing of the person making the speech. "Standing," for these purposes, means one thing: the ability to act upon what you have to say. Thus, almost anybody in the administration -- not just the president, the vice-president, secretary of state, speaker of the house, majority leader of the senate -- has more standing than Al Gore does. If they say something, it means that there will be at least an attempt to carry it out, or that it is an elucidation of what is already being carried out, and it is therefore newsworthy.
How do does Gore achieve standing? The answer is obvious. He must start running for president.
A person credibly and seriously running for president is someone who will, if he wins, get to implement the things he has spoken of. Therefore, he is someone who needs to be listened to, whose words need to be reported.
Al Gore may not want to run for president. He is among the few people on earth who knows how hard it is and how heartbreaking it is to lose -- and worse -- to win and have it stolen from him.
The last time he ran, there was no apparent reason to do so, except that he had ambition, and it was something he was more or less born to do, like a Kennedy, a Roosevelt and a Bush. Now there is a reason to run. Because he has enunciated a set of principles and ideas to run on. Because America needs to hear what he has to say. Because no one else of standing and stature has come forward to say it.
If he doesn't have the stomach for it, well then, it was a nice speech, glad he made it, but he doesn't really care enough to make a difference. But frankly, I hope he does care enough. We don't need fence straddlers, we don't need a Democan or Republicrat, we don't need a more sensible Bush and a Cheney with compassion. Which is to say, we don't need Hillary Clinton or John Kerry. We need a person of clear conviction. Who has reasons to run, besides, "I wanna be president." Al Gore has just established himself as that man.