[Ed. note: See my post at All Things Democrat for more of what I see as the important differences between true leaders and politicians.]
Herbert has written many powerful columns, but this one hits me just at a time when I find myself (for the first time) really wanting him to run for president in 2008 because I think he may be more than a leader than many of the politicians who do want the job.
Al Gore is earnestly talking about the long-term implications of the energy and climate crises, and how the Arctic ice cap is receding much faster than computer models had predicted, and how difficult and delicate a task it will be to try and set things straight in Iraq.Read the rest here.
You look at him and you can’t help thinking how bizarre it is that this particular political figure, perhaps the most qualified person in the country to be president, is sitting in a wing chair in a hotel room in Manhattan rather than in the White House.
He’s pushing his book “The Assault on Reason.” I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.
The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.
Mr. Gore takes a blowtorch to the Bush administration in his book. He argues that the free and open democratic processes that have made the United States such a special place have been undermined by the administration’s cynicism and excessive secrecy, and by its shameless and relentless exploitation of the public’s fear of terror.
The Bush crowd, he said, has jettisoned logic, reason and reflective thought in favor of wishful thinking in the service of an extreme political ideology. It has turned its back on reality, with tragic results.
So where does that leave Mr. Gore? If the republic is in such deep trouble and the former vice president knows what to do about it, why doesn’t he have an obligation to run for president? I asked him if he didn’t owe that to his fellow citizens.
If the country needs you, how can you not answer the call?
He seemed taken aback. “Well, I respect the logic behind that question,” he said. “I also am under no illusion that there is any position that even approaches that of president in terms of an inherent ability to affect the course of events.”
But while leaving the door to a possible run carefully ajar, he candidly mentioned a couple of personal reasons why he is disinclined to seek the presidency again.
“You know,” he said, “I don’t really think I’m that good at politics, to tell you the truth.” He smiled. “Some people find out important things about themselves early in life. Others take a long time.”