Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Gored Again III

I think pretty highly of John Ellis. So maybe he can help me out on this one. I understand that now that Al Gore has endorsed Howard Dean, that if Dr. Dean wins the White House in 2004 then Mr. Gore will be in a good position to claim various goodies. Check.

But I'm having a little trouble with what happens if Dr. Dean steers the Democratic Party into the political equivalent of an airliner collision with Mount Fuji in 2004, losing the White House and more seats in Congress - thereby weakening or eliminating the ability of Senate Democrats to block Republican judicial nominees. John explains:

[A]ssume that former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is defeated by President George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Who picks up the pieces? .... There is one man ... who thinks that he will pick up the pieces after the 2004 Democratic debacle. His name is Al Gore, the former vice president and winner (in the popular vote) of the 2000 election. He chose not to run this time around, for obvious reasons, but left the door wide open for a Nixon-like return to the '08 campaign. And this week he all but announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination by endorsing Gov. Dean for president.

John, explain to me again how by endorsing Dr. Dean and helping cause such a gigantic, historic wreck, Al Gore puts himself in a better position to pick up the pieces and claim the Democratic nomination in 2008. I think I must have missed the explanation the first time.

The argument seems to be bottomed on this claim: If Dean loses, Gore will be the rightful heir to the Dean apparatus; the single most impressive fund-raising and organizing operation in Democratic Party politics. But doesn't most of that "apparatus" depend on Dr. Dean's personality? Is that really transferable to Al Gore? And won't a big loss likely leave the "apparatus" more than a bit damaged? And couldn't all of Dr. Dean's technical devices - internet gimmicks, etc. - be copied functionally without actually endorsing Dr. Dean himself. I mean, isn't an endorsement rather a stiff price to pay for a campaign mailing list?

Another question: Exactly what were the "obvious reasons" Mr. Gore didn't run this time around?

I also didn't quite see how it was that Mr. Gore all but announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination by endorsing Gov. Dean for president. If Dr. Dean actually wins in 2004, then Al Gore probably won't be able to run at all in 2008.

Is this whole Al Gore strategy supposed to be based on an assumption that Dr. Dean will lose the general election in 2004 - but not so badly that those closely associated with him are rendered radioactive?

If that's the case, Al Gore really is a refined thinker.

Help me out here, John. I'm in pain.

MORE: Good thoughts from Bill Quick.


John Ellis replies.

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