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Gore To The Rescue?

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The Superdelegates just might save us.

I'm hoping that they will rescue the Democrats from two candidates with big vulnerabilities and unite Hillaryites, Obamaniacs, and former Edwards supporters like me, behind a candidate who can truly bring us all together.

I'm talking about Al Gore.

Until recently, I didn't think Gore would run or even should run. He's making a huge difference around the world on stopping the climate crisis. And, like most people, I thought one or the other of the candidates would have shown the strength to unite Democrats behind their banner and show that they would lead a transformative presidency.

Unfortunately, neither Hillary nor Obama has yet succeeded on those counts, meaning that it's time to look for someone who can while it's not too late for them to enter the later primaries and earn some modicum of popular legitimacy.

To be sure, both Clinton and Obama have their strengths (and I prefer Obama between the two), but they also have major chinks: while she's a sincere person who will fight hard for progressive change in the White House, I worry about her electability. And while Obama's inspiring and potential game changer, I worry about his priorities: in the past, he's been willing to vote for horrible legislation like Bush's 2005 energy bill in the name of "bringing people together" - showing a disturbing willingness to sacrifice his principles on the altar of abstract theories about politics. To what extent he would actually work for a progressive agenda is a major unknown. Also, why is he behind McCain in the polls despite the generally glowing press coverage and grassroots movement behind him - is there something about him that's turning people off despite all the journalistic gushing?

In contrast, Gore would electrify Democrats hungry for somebody who could bring the positive qualities of each current front-runner together - without their negatives.

Though Gore's rhetorical style is different, it can be as inspiring as Obama's - though with a key difference: Gore has an extraordinary record of achievement to back it up. Not only has he launched the climate crisis onto the world's consciousness, he played a leading role in arms control legislation as far back as the 1970's, marshaled the government behind the technological revolution of the 1990's, led the Reinventing Government initiative that made Washington far more efficient and effective, and recognized early on the threat posed by al-Qaeda.

And though not so long ago no one would have held him up as a model of electability, he has, as he says, "let the glory out" - and unleashed the passionate, inspiring, and accomplished leader within.

And he's got one thing neither Hillary nor Obama do (and I don't mean a Nobel prize): he's a Vietnam veteran with loads of direct national security experience, meaning he'll be able to credibly go toe to toe with McCain on terrorism and other big issues. And, like Obama, he opposed the Iraq War from the start, allowing him to provide a clear contrast with McCain on judgment (unlike Obama, he continued to loudly and consistently oppose the Iraq War even when it was popular).

Like Hillary, he actually favors universal health care. But unlike Hillary, he's had major success navigating legislation through Congress: he played an instrumental role in passing the 1993 economic plan, the crime bill, standing down the Republican government shutdown in 1995 and 1996, and passing much of his Reinventing Government initiative through Congress.

To be sure, Gore isn't perfect: for one, his candidacy wouldn't provide a demographic breakthrough in the presidency. But Gore has shown strength with every demographic group in the past, and has particularly strong support within the African-American community (where he actually got a higher percentage of the vote in 2000 than Bill Clinton had in 1992 or 1996, or John Kerry did in 2004). And he could easily provide a major demographic breakthrough with his vice-presidential nominee.

Finally, he's a person of integrity - and he's achieved success in almost everything he's done in life. Now could be the time for him to bring that winning record to the country.

So is it possible - and is it just? Well, so long as neither Hillary nor Obama gets a majority of pledged delegates, it's certainly possible - delegates would be free to change their choices and select whomever they want. But I also agree with MoveOn and others that it's vital that the nominee have some popular legitimacy and not just the support of insiders. But there's a way to provide that. Gore could allow his name to be entered in a handful of the Democratic primaries and caucuses whose filing deadlines haven't passed (Wyoming, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Montana). If he shows significant strength in different parts of the country despite all of Hillary and Obama's organizational muscle and momentum, he'll be able to credibly claim popular support - and be able to take his case to undecided Superdelegates. If not, just go back to planet saving (and let the rest of us focus on electing Obama or Hillary).

Of course, this is just an idea right now, and there needs to be some backing for it. You can let Al Gore know what you think here or just leave your thoughts in the comment section below.