Triumphant ‘Second Act’ Dramatizes Bush Failures,
By Robert S. Becker,
16 November, 2007
comets once viewed as heavenly omens, Al Gore’s triumphant blaze
of glory ripples with significance, sharply reminding us of what could
have been, what is, and what may well come to pass. Positioned nicely
before the ’08 election, Gore’s redemption presages a major
paradigm reversal, beyond global warming, threatening the conservative
dominance begun by Ronald Reagan.
Gore’s sterling achievements
– the Oscar, the acceptance of global warming, the Nobel Peace
Prize - are historic. They also establish an especially dramatic opposition
between the more effective leadership style of a private citizen --
inclusive, global, open to innovation -- with the “go-it-alone,”
counterproductive insularity of the Bush-Cheney reign. While White House
creditability withers, here and abroad, Gore’s influence expands,
embracing world-class scientific research, wide-ranging solutions and
The contrast is astonishing,
especially between a lone private citizen and an entire administration.
If a divine force indeed favors the democratic spirit, Gore’s
eminence haunts us all, delivering at the least a severe election reprimand.
While a democracy may tolerate voting legalisms to trump the popular
will, as in 2000, is not jeopardy attached? Five members of the Supreme
Court can wipe away a 500,000 plurality, but look at the destructive
outcome when the Electoral College system anoints the lesser man.
Gore’s Peace Prize
frames Bush’s lost wars
If that same divine force
orchestrates history, as fundamentalists claim, is there any question
He (or She) has a wildly ironic sense of humor? Why of late has fate
granted Gore, the loser in 2000, a charmed life crowned with the world’s
great Peace Prize – all the while hammering Bush’s presidency,
linking it forever to belligerent, questionable crusades against terrorism,
Iraqi women and children, and American citizens, capped by the no-win
war that targeted a dictator but devastated an entire country? Losing
becomes winning and winning only reveals all too boldly the inadequacies
of the victor.
Gore’s mission to restrain
climate shifts elevates humanity without hating gays or politicizing
procreation or distorting religion. Strident as ever, Bush rails against
perceived enemies in Iran, defends torture, suspends habeas corpus,
and violates citizen rights with illegal eavesdropping. Could the contrast
be greater, even without the latest scary administration saber-rattling
Beyond the personal Gore
vs. Bush, consider other historic breakthroughs, namely that finally
a presidential loser need not vanish into the anonymous mist. Never
before has a devastated election loser morphed into an international
superstar, proving overt government power offers only one kind of leverage
for change. Compare Gore’s re-emergence to Dole or Dukakis, Mondale
In short, Gore reverses,
not just disproves F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quip, “There are
no second acts in American lives.” Here’s a celebrity who’s
started a movement yet without conspicuous charisma or charm, most notably
without public office or huge corporate sponsorship or selling out.
A ‘second act”
that dwarfs the first
America likes winners, especially
heroes who go it alone. Gore’s special status, advanced by not
running for president, grants him the enormous clout of former leaders,
approaching even Bill Clinton without his baggage. Imagine Gore’s
impact as he campaigns for liberal Democrats, declaring, “Elect
this partner” to help us save the world – the ultimate vision
Were top GOP candidates silly
enough to persist in doubting the science or denying human influence
on climate, Gore can rush in on his relatively non-partisan white horse
and destroy so many regressive, faith-based, life-threatening ideologies,
with cultural and political ripples beyond this one issue.
There’s a special grace
when one is deflected, even anointed to save the world, not just lead
a country. No one has gone from Oscar to Nobel Prize to international
acclaim, putting Gore into the ranks of a Gandhi or Martin Luther King
or Nelson Mandela.
Is it irony or payback?
Certainly, history will not
miss a most dramatic irony – Al Gore’s voice against climate
change would be less conspicuous had not big oil and big energy fought
so hard, and funded countless distortions, denying global warming and
impugning proponents as “sky-is-falling” partisans or outright
fakes. Nor will historians ignore this further irony – the likely
election of liberal politicians and funding of sustainable energy will
be propelled by the oil industries’ two most ambitious executives,
George Bush and Dick Cheney.
For me, Gore haunts America’s
last seven years like a living ghost, his ultimate impact extends beyond
one misguided election or the reversal of personal fortunes. Through
Gore, we may say Providence has spoken: He did not endorse the 2000
election result, nor the invasion of Iraq (as this president once boasted).
Instead, Gore's unique, certainly unusual narrative invites rational
earthlings to reject all sorts of black and white parochial mindsets,
the sort both taking us unwisely into the wrong war against terrorism
while scorning the very compelling battle for planetary balance staring
us all in the face.
For that blessing, and the
hope we are moving out of this dark, dark age, we owe Gore a lot.
Former university teacher and business executive, free-lance writer
Becker lives in Mendocino CA.
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