Monday 23 Nov 2020 | 11:14 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Nov 2020 | 11:14 | SYDNEY

Where the Goreacle?


Michael Fullilove


4 February 2008 14:42

In the last week, Senator Barack Obama has won impressive endorsements from Senator Edward Kennedy, the last of the three Kennedy brothers, and from Caroline Kennedy, President John F Kennedy’s only surviving child. Obama’s rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, has won ticks from a string of party insiders, including other Kennedys and Josh from The West Wing (aka actor Bradley Whitford).

Nothing has been heard yet about the biggest endorsement of all: that of former Vice-President Al Gore. The chances are that the Goreacle will stay clear of the primary fray this cycle. One former adviser, Chris Lehane, was quoted in December offering one particularly self-regarding explanation of why Gore would remain silent: ‘In many respects, he has transcended partisan politics. I think he’ll be extremely sensitive about doing anything that could potentially impact his global brand.’ The former Veep was also burned by his last presidential endorsement, in December 2003, when he publicly supported former Vermont governor Howard Dean over the establishment candidate, Senator John Kerry, and Senator Joe Lieberman, who was himself Gore’s vice-presidential candidate in 2000. Weeks later, Dean’s campaign self-immolated. Gore may not want to chance his arm again.

On the other hand, I can think of three reasons why Gore might throw caution to the wind. First, politicians like being listened to. If Gore were to weigh into this delicately balanced race he could – given the enormous mana the Nobel laureate has earned from his work on climate change – have a very significant influence. If his anointed candidate went on to win the nomination and the general election, Gore’s influence in the next White House could be enormous. Second, he probably really wants to jump in, in favour of Obama. Gore and Obama sing from the same song sheet these days on the need to fundamentally change Washington – and, of course, Obama is the only significant candidate who (like Gore and Dean) opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. Finally, a Gore endorsement of anyone other than Hillary would be the ultimate rebuke to the Clintons, with whom Gore has been on bad terms since the last years of the Clinton presidency.

Gore will probably wait until the party has chosen its nominee before speaking up – but if you are looking for left-field events that could reshape the Democratic race, keep a weather eye on the Goreacle.

Photo by Flickr user stgermh, used under a Creative Commons licence.