Al Gore’s endorsement of Barack Obama was a foregone conclusion, as it’s impossible to think of any GOP candidate who could challenge for the votes of Gore and his many acolytes. As nominee, Obama has begun to consolidate the Democratic machine, and as his effort proceeds he will take note of Gore’s failure to do the same in 2000, and the disastrous consequences that had for the world. He benefits from having the rub from Gore, but the private counsel could be just as valuable.
The third act in Gore’s political career has been a study in how a single person can exercise real power from the outside. Arguably, no politician in American history is as versed in the core scientific and technological issues that will be crucial for shaping the species’ future heading deeper into the century. Look for Gore to augment his facility with energy, climate change and Internet policy–positions that will need to be fleshed-out in the immediate weeks and months ahead–with a growing interest in biotech and nanotech, and to be even more omnispresent on these subjects than he’s been already.
I will never forget sitting halfway back inside the historic Sunshine Theatre in NYC, with “?uestlove” Thompson’s afro only slightly obstructing the view, watching “An Inconvenient Truth” in summer 2006. To see it early on, before the subsequent hype that confirmed the theory, was to see a new Al Gore, a man of vast political potency. Gore saved the climate change issue from a culture that would happily sacrifice all hope of peace in our time for a few more years’ worth of a depleting unrenewable resource. Without the cadres that coalesced around him, the topic might be as “third rail” as the epidemic of violence against women and children by state-sponsored predators has become.
All this begs the question of what Gore’s role inside an Obama administration would be. Suffice to say that he could have spot he wants, but he would be unlikely to take anything that didn’t involve real action. No cabinet spot offers such power–my bet would be as Secretary of State, the role Adlai Stevenson (who ended up as our greatest UN Ambassador) wanted with Kennedy. If Gore could be persuaded to be Obama’s running mate, that would be better; he might be a better sell than the Hillary Clinton to the hordes of haters in their party who fear her more than they do the uncertain future we all face.