Richard Nixon suffered quietly for eight years.
From the night of his 1960 loss to John Kennedy to the morning in 1968 when he learned he had barely beaten Hubert Humphrey, Nixon was a former vice president who believed that fate — and dirty politicians — had dealt him a bad hand.
Most of Nixon’s political team believed that JFK’s old man had stolen the 1960 election through mob ties and massive voter fraud that swung Cook County, which swung Illinois, which swung the election for Kennedy. The fact that many political observers at the time agreed with Richard Nixon provided cold comfort for the ex-vice president.
He wandered in the political wilderness for eight years.
Anyone vaguely familiar with Nixon’s long path to the presidency who was watching the Oscars had to be thinking that history was aligning Gore’s fate with that of the 37th president. And judging from my discussion with Joe Klein and Pat Buchanan last night on Scarborough Country, political experts are beginning to believe that Al Gore may be the last Democrat standing in 2008.
As Buchanan pointed out, Mr. Gore has been right on the war from the beginning. And unlike Barrack Obama, he has the experience to soothe the jangled nerves of Democratic party bosses. The Nation’s John Nichols also pointed out that Gore has more experience in Washington than Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John Edwards combined. That may not mean much when things are calm across the globe but these are not normal times.
America is fighting a war on terror, watching Iraq devolve into a bloody civil war, sitting back while Iran gains nuclear weapons, acting defenseless to North Korea’s nukes, watching as Afghanistan grows more unstable by the day, and praying to God that radicals don’t kill Pakistan’s military dictator lest we see Islamic radicals gain control of that country’s nuclear missiles.
Is now really the time to put a guy with two years of foreign policy experience in the Oval Office?
That’s the question Democratic activists have to be asking themselves tonight. If they think it through, they will have to conclude that Obama can’t win a national defense debate against John McCain or Rudy Giuliani.
But Al Gore can.
That doesn’t mean the road to the White House will be smooth sailing for Hollywood’s latest darling. The Internet was buzzing about Al Gore’s leading role in the 79th Academy Awards. And while critics were panning the show as one of the worst in recent history, bloggers were focusing on the political impact of the wettest West Coast kiss since Al kicked off his 2000 Democratic Convention speech by licking off Tipper’s top three layers of skin.
Instapundit called Oscar a very convenient awards ceremony while posting the “inconvenient truth” about the environmentalist’s massive home energy bill. Daily Kos wrote little of the ceremony but prominently displayed a “Draft Gore” ad on page one.
Salon’s Tim Grieve used his space in the War Room to tell of Jimmy Carter’s efforts to draft Al Gore for 2008. The former failed president has offered his endorsement if Gore takes the dive. I’m sure Hillary is quivering in fear that Plains and Americus may soon rest solidly in the Gore column.
In the end, former presidents or political bloggers won’t decide Al Gore’s fate. That will be determined by the vice president himself — who has to know that while fame in Hollywood can be fleeting, history may finally be breaking his way.
2008 is looking like Al Gore’s year. The only question is whether he will once again risk the slings and arrows of a nasty political campaign that could end in heartache. Democrats should be encouraging Gore to take the dive, even if they know it is unlikely to ever happen.
After all, who wants to be president when you can be the biggest star in Tinsletown?