Faced with intractable opposition to his plans for political reform, Charles de Gaulle retired in 1953 to his Colombey estate, wrote his wartime memoirs, maintained his contacts and awaited the crisis he knew would occur because of the inherent weakness of the Fourth Republic.
In 1958 it happened. Charles de Gaulle held a press conference to let the country know he was "at its disposal" and, just 10 days later, his offer was accepted. He won an election, extricated the country from its Algerian morass, forged the beginnings of a united Europe, righted a declining economy and won a referendum on a new Constitution establishing the Fifth Republic that survives to this day.
After a wretched "loss" in 2000 (consider how many different small matters had to go wrong -- the butterfly ballot, the purging of voting rolls and intimidation of black voters, the presence of Ralph Nader on the ballot, a Supreme Court committing the ultimate right wing activism, a decision specifically stating it was not to be precedent, and so on), Al Gore similarly left politics while maintaining his contacts. He wrote two books, won an Emmy Award, the Nobel Peace Prize, and produced an Oscar-winning film from a serious slide show on global warming.
Like Barack Obama, Gore was right about the Iraq War from the start. Although he patriotically kept silent for awhile about Bush being asleep-at-the-switch prior to 9/11 so the country could rally, he eventually called him out about that first instance of gross negligence and incompetence. When he was Vice President, with a broad national security portfolio (unlike Hillary, he actually HAD security clearance!), they caught the millennium terrorist who planned to blow up the LA Airport.
While many urged, pleaded, cajoled and even begged him to enter the 2008 Presidential primary race, he maintained that he was not "good at that stuff" (although none of the events that denied him his rightful victory were of his doing), and decided against it.
As the country blunders to the close of its most disastrous presidency ever, the stars should be aligning not just for a Democratic 2008 election victory, but, more importantly, to usher in another progressive age as the empty rhetoric, false idolatry, cowardly aggression and phony piety that was the culmination of all the right wing dreamed for this country came crashing down on all our heads.
And yet, the stars seem to misalign again. Out of a talented crowded field, two appealing, enormously well-funded candidates have emerged to lead that new progressive era. The electorate appears to be divided 50.1- 49.9, and the anomalies of superdelegates and unseated delegations jumble even that calculation. Regrettably -- that is, to the wide electorate who desperately wants only to turn the page -- neither is likely to desist.
The Clintons scored their comeback by launching a scorched earth strategy, specifically aligning themselves with McCain over Obama. While Obama will probably show his superior character, his inevitable counterattacks -- and, key questions that now must be raised by reporters and superdelegates on her taxes and White House records and Marc Rich, etc. -- are not likely to boost her chances in the fall election either.
The Democratic electorate is split. While 50.1% and 49.9% of the delegates and electorate will find it difficult for their candidate to retire in favor of the other, would it not be true that ~85% or more would enthusiastically embrace Al Gore?
Time for "Al de Gore" to "put himself at the disposal of his country"?
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