THE BLOG
10/26/2007 06:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Mythical Nonpartisan Progressive

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Al Gore
A Gore conservatives could love?
(Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage.)

One of the stranger things I sometimes read about Al Gore is that because he is so partisan, because he turns off a certain bloc of the U.S. public, he is flawed as a leader on climate change. Surely the issue deserves a prophet that's not so sullied by politics!

This seems confused.

In terms of spreading awareness and generating pressure behind a response, Gore has done more than anybody in the world on this issue, by a quantum leap. If there are leaders in the wings with the potential to be both effective and universally beloved, what the hell are they waiting for?

Perhaps such leaders have not emerged because the partisanship is, as it were, baked in. As I said back here, Gore only looks divisive from inside the fishbowl of our dopey public discourse. He is widely respected abroad. The right wing dead-enders 30% slime him, yes. But are we seriously to believe that if another figure -- one with no political history -- came along and tried to mobilize the public behind an aggressive policy approach that included a carbon tax, a moratorium on new coal plants, and a target of 90% CO2 reductions by 2050, that person would escape sliming?

The fact is, a credible response to climate change threatens the financial interests of certain wealthy corporate Republican backers. Defense of those interests is the fundamental animating principle of U.S. movement conservatism. It's a structural issue, not one specific to Gore. The dead enders hate Gore, yes. But they can be made to hate anyone; it's their stock in trade.

While we're in the neighborhood, let's address the oft-repeated incantation that we must "make climate change a bipartisan issue." I'm all for making climate change a bipartisan issue, but, um ... why you looking at me? Why is it that greens and progressives are targeted for these lectures? They're the ones on board.

If you've got a passenger on board and one lounging on the dock, here's a thought: Go yell at the guy on the dock. The rest of us are ready to sail.