Here's my question: What took them so long? Think about it: the Gores are two dynamic, intelligent and passionate people who have met everyone and been everywhere. Their lives have been filled with options and inspirations, seductions and distractions. Who wouldn't be tempted to wonder what it would be like to rewrite their Third Act? After 40 years of marriage, it could feel like the commutation of a death sentence... I'm just saying.
Oh wait! I'm not supposed to say that, am I? The national dialogue is trending toward shock and disappointment at the Gore's news. Not me. Call me a cynical recent divorcee if you want, but I think they are both very courageous and clear-eyed in their decision to separate. Not only that, but I don't think either of them will live to regret the decision, hard as the transition will be.
Right now I can name some great repercussions of this separation: First, Tipper will lose ten to twenty pounds in the next few months. We all do. Al will start dressing more imaginatively. They all do. Both of them will start paying more attention to their undergarments and neither of them will continue driving cars with hatchbacks or "sports utility" in the name.
That said, I'm guessing Al has been tempted to trade on the whole Nobel-Prize-Academy-Award-I-Really-Won-the-Presidency thing that makes a 62 year-old man look and feel like Elvis. I'm also guessing that Tipper has had it up to here with the adoration and indulgence that all middle-aged Elvises require. To be fair, she probably looks at him with that expression that says, "I know who you really are, Bud, and I'm not impressed." What newly-invigorated and reiterated person wants to be haunted by the one person who knows what a goof you used to be?
They have raised four kids and at least the three girls appear to be doing as well as anybody's kids. Son Albert III has some dodgy bits with his proclivity for drugs and speeding, but hey, he could be almost anybody's kid, too. All in all, they seem to have been attentive and loving parents. Call me crazy, but I can't think of any other reason for people to marry than to raise kids or protect the monarchy.
Sure, Tipper was a little lame in her music lyric censoring phase, and that kiss at the Democratic Convention made most of us vomit a little into our mouths, but they were corny and cute, and besides, they would never have had to stoop so low if the Clintons had at least once acted like they were hot for each other. Besides, any politician who could claim Tommy Lee Jones as a college roommate must have some contact coolness, right?
I, for one, would like to thank Al and Tipper for sparing us the melodrama that typically accompanies such a high-profile split. In fact, I'd consider it a mitzvah if TMZ and the rest of the bottom feeders were to respect the demise of the Gore marriage at least as much as they would, theoretically, respect the creation of it.
It helps, I'm sure, that the Gores appear to have the financial means to create two households without putting either of them on public assistance. Marriage, throughout history, has been an economic relationship that until recently had little to do with romance.
Unfortunately, many people who have reached the romantic ebb in their later years stay married because they simply can't afford to split up. Tipper and Al can afford it and they're separating. Good for them that they aren't forced to stay together to afford their rent-stabilized apartment in Nashville.
You've got to be pretty brave to decide to create a whole new life for yourself after your first half-century. Such a decisive split means everything from getting new stationery to becoming accustomed to not knowing what to do with yourself on those weekends when all your married friends are tied up with their families and you would rather stay in bed and watch old movies than have the paparazzi photograph you and your dinner date.
Then again, it's a new beginning for both of them while they're young and vital enough to rise to the challenge. The worst part of staying in a stale marriage is the sacrifice of imagination. If a person stays put because they can't imagine anything better, then they're probably right where they belong. For the rest of us, I pray the adventure is worth it.