Wednesday, December 10, 2003

In re: Gore.

I don't like Dean, and I don't like that Gore endorsed Dean. However, if I were a presidential candidate, I wouldn't respond as Joe Lieberman did:

This campaign for the Democratic nomination is fundamentally a referendum within our party about whether we're going to build on the Clinton transformation in our party in 1992 that reassured people we were strong on defense, we were fiscally responsible, we cared about values, we were interested in cutting taxes for the middle class and working with business to create jobs.
Howard Dean - and now Al Gore, I guess - are on the wrong side of each of those issues.

Nor would I respond as Al Sharpton did:

Al Gore went to New York today. He should have noticed Tammany Hall is not there anymore. Bossism is not in this party. To talk about people ought not run and that people ought to get out of this race is bossism that belongs in the other party.

Why? Because if there's an 11th Commandment for Democratic candidates, it's "Don't shit on Bill Clinton." If there's a 12th Commandment, it's "Don't shit on Al Gore." Whether the criticism has merit or not - merit in the case of Sharpton, not in the case of Lieberman - Al Gore deserves respect. If I didn't agree, I'd say so; but I wouldn't cast aspersions on his politics or his character.

Even if I didn't agree with that, I'd know this: it's stupid. Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000; the voters who supported him are the ones voting in the primaries. How likely would they be to vote for me if I derided their choice in 2000? Besides, I'd know it would provide Dean an opening:

If you guys are upset that Al Gore is endorsing me, attack me, don't attack Al Gore. Al Gore worked too hard in 2000 to lose that election, when he really didn't lose the election. He got 500,000 votes more than George Bush. And I don't think he deserves to be attacked by anybody up here. He doesn't - he's not a boss. He's a fundamentally decent human being.


Given that, I'd probably respond as John Edwards did:

I have this kind of curious notion that I think actually most voters in America make their own decision about who they believe should be the president of the United States. I don't think you can tell them what to do.
The one thing I am absolutely certain of, having now spent a lot of time here in the state of New Hampshire, is you sure can't tell the people of New Hampshire what to do. That's one thing I'm absolutely certain of.
And the other thing I'm certain of is we're not going to have a coronation. The Republicans have coronations. We have campaigns, we have elections. And that's exactly what's going to happen in this particular case.

Which is to say, I wouldn't mention Al Gore, and I'd praise the will of the people.

What else wouldn't I do? Call attention to my own endorsements, whether it's Andy Young's or Jim Clyburn's. It diminishes the influence of the endorsement due to the unavoidable comparison to Gore's, and it generates sympathetic press - meaning, press that mentions Gore's endorsement of Dean.

But what do I know? I'm but a blogger.