Some commentators are taking the unique approach of discussing Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize not in terms of whether he'll run for president, but in terms of
the dangers of climate change who he'll endorse for president.
Will the prize raise the political value of the endorsement?
Edward Luce says yes:
More realistically, Democratic consultants focused on whom Mr Gore might endorse among the existing Democratic field - if anyone. "The value of an Al Gore endorsement just shot up by several thousand per cent," said an adviser to one of the campaigns. "Gore now has the leverage to really shape the campaign."
Donna Brazille, Mr Gore's campaign manager in the 2000 presidential race, says the prize could give Mr Gore the whip hand over the 2008 election.
"I believe Gore wants to be above the fray and not back in the middle," she told ABC's The Note - Washington's most-read morning blog. "With the Nobel Prize now his, Gore can play kingmaker and help the Democrats win in 2008."
Matt Yglesias says no:
John Edwards' campaign is, at this point, severely hampered by financial constraints and by a perception that he's already lost. Gore can't help Edwards on the former item, since he's already accepted public financing, and I'm not sure his say-so would convince anyone on the latter point. Because unions are well known for not wanting to endorse candidates they feel are doomed, more union endorsements would have been very helpful to Edwards because they would have both helped him directly and bolstered perceptions that he's in the game. I don't think Gore can do that.
Obama has a different problem, namely that a majority of Democrats -- and especially the more economically and educationally downscale ones -- think Hillary Clinton's pretty awesome. Gore saying Obama's awesome, too, isn't really going to change things. Now what really might change things would be if Gore were to endorse Obama and use his standing as a former Clinton administration insider to mount a serious indictment of Hillary's key credential -- her experience in that office. But that assumes that there's some reasonable indictment to make of her tenure as First Lady that we haven't already heard and that Gore would be interested in doing something like that. Neither of those strike me as especially plausible, so under the circumstances I'm hard-pressed to see what kind of difference a Gore endorsement would make.
Me, I'm of the opinion that the endorsement isn't the big deal. The big deal is the pressure Gore puts on whoever's elected to go big on climate. I'm betting that whoever wins will try to absorb Gore into the administration (UN ambassador? State Dept.? New cabinet-level climate/energy position?) rather than leave him outside as an independent critic. Keep your friends close, etc.