» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

May 12, 2008
Here's an exercise in political revisionism: count the ways America and the world would be in a different, dare I say better, place if Al Gore had won (well, ascended to) the Presidency in 2000, and possibly again in 2004. It does not require much effort to make a strong case that the United States would not be losing a boondoggle of a war in Iraq (and consequently losing a much more important fight in Afghanistan); the federal deficit would not be approaching infinity; the overall economy would be in stronger shape; there would be less dependence on oil (foreign or domestic, period) and a more aggressive pursuing of developing alternate energy sources; and the world would simply be on its way to becoming a cooler place. Literally.

Can the accuracy of such hindsighted predictions be quantified? Of course not, and perhaps some unforeseen Acts of God/Allah/Xenu would have rendered Gore an even less effective President than George W. Bush. But working within the framework of known facts and probabilities, a reverse extrapolation method if you will, we can certainly hypothesize with a relative degree of certainty, based on what has transpired the past (gasp) eight years, that our current situation would be vastly different. Bush and his henchmen have objectively driven the United States into a sorry state of the nation, and aside from FOX commentators, hardly anyone on either side of the aisle is arguing the opposite with much conviction. Gore meanwhile has gone on to noble (and Nobel) pursuits, a reinvention that has gained him the respect of the global community. And lets face facts: Al is simply a smarter man than George, with hordes more political experience. Res ipsa loquitur.

There exists an established set of reasons why Gore is not in the Oval Office, which are familiar to most everyone from Alaska to Azerbaijan. But beyond the pathetic hanging-chad debacle, and the butterfly-effect of a few hundred Jewish seniors voting for Pat Buchanan, I'd like to propose another theory. Let's call it the blindsiding hubris of Bill Clinton.

A rarely discussed sideshow of the Monica Lewinsky affair was the collateral damage it caused to Bill's wingman, the trusty steed of a veep, Al Gore. Aside from the botched handling of Johnny Carson's retirement from his talk-show chair, I can think of no worse fumble on a succession plan than the Clintonian sinking of the Gore 2000 campaign. Although Carson wasn't to blame in The Tonight Show matter, the end bar-lowering result was the same in both instances: late night TV got Jay Leno, and the world got George Bush.

The intricacies of how Bill Clinton's massive ego impacted Gore's bid for the White House are more subtle, but can be boiled down as follows. If one is going to be so brash as to get head in the White House and then lie about it, one must be so narcissistic to forget Plan B when a spoiler comes. Ergo, when one is caught with his pants down, and the enemy is energized like a bunny, one must do everything to protect the interests of those close to the deathblow. Instead of parsing words, Bill Clinton should have taken it like a man, and did everything possible to protect the integrity of the only party with a realistic chance of keeping Republicans at bay.

In his 2000 Presidential campaign, Al Gore knew that he was guilty by association, and tried in vain to strike a balance between being loyal to his boss (and intra-party Superstar) and maintaining a distance from inter-party poison. But try as he might, it wasn't really Gore's move to make. What was needed was a clean pronouncement from the naked Emperor himself. Instead of playing feeble defense against the witchhunting Republicans, Clinton should have drawn a line in the sand between his own personal failings, and the promise of successive Democratic leadership though Gore. Such a delineation, along with a thunderous endorsement, would have set a much different stage during that arduous campaign.

And now, eight years on, we see that hubris runs in the marital family. Hillary Clinton's refusal to throw in the towel is once again energizing the opposite Party, and adding more bricks in the wall standing between Barack Obama and the Presidency of the United States. If Reverend Wright is Obama's butterfly ballot, Clinton's refusal to bow out timely and gracefully may be the Lewinsky cigar. Like her husband, Hillary is myopically focused on her own battles, no matter how insignificant they are, and simply cannot grasp the larger picture. Obviously, there's no respect, self or otherwise, in being a fall guy, but that's not what the 2008 general election is about. Just as Bill had every right to stand up to his puritanical accusers, so Hillary has the right to fight until the cows come home. But this isn't just a matter of personal "rights." As was the case in 2000, there is so much at stake this year - if not more so, considering the likelihood of more Supreme Court retirees in the next four years - that it is crucial to avoid the pitfalls of dogged and blind determination.

Like Al Gore before him, Barack Obama represents the best chance of fresh leadership in the White House. Many consider Obama to be the brightest beacon for fundamental change the United States has seen in a long time. Considering how far the fortunes of Americans (and, again, the world at large) have fallen since 2000, the similarities between this year and eight years ago are downright eerie. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity for a youthful, visionary President to lead the United States and help regain its lost luster. Just as it is impossible to know the direction the world might have taken with Al Gore in the White House, it is also unknown how things might progress under the leadership of Barack Obama. But one thing is certain: that in order to even get there and find out, Hillary must step up and do what her husband was unable to - put aside the Clinton hubris, and at least let the experiment begin.

Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other articles by Ari Shapiro.



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