Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Memo to Newt: You Are No Al Gore

by Sara Robinson

Several blogs (here's Tristero's take) are noting that Newt Gingrich is offering himself up as Our New Lincoln, positioning himself for a presidential run by offering visionary solutions on important issues of the day:
I'm going to tell you something, and whether or not it's plausible given the world you come out of is your problem' .... 'I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.'
Much hilarity has ensued as a result of this announcement. But make no mistake: this isn't about Lincoln. It's about Gore. Newt has noticed that this strategy is working very well for Al, thank you very much -- and now wants his piece of that action.

Al Gore has spent the past six years dedicating himself to creating a movement around global warming. Whether or not he ever becomes president, his actions have already had tremendous implications for the future of humankind. Ninety-four years from now (assuming people are still around), when they're making lists of the 10 most important people of the century, Al's work on global warming just so far will put him on everybody's list -- whether or not we ever have the good sense to put him in the White House.

As Newt notes, we may decide that we like Al's principles and leadership well enough to elect him. But the difference is that we all know Al is going to do his global warming thing for as long as it takes, with or without that inducement. Yeah, it may put him in a great position to run; but he seems to see that as an optional side benefit of Doing The Right Thing.

Newt, on the other hand, has already taken himself off that high road by announcing his overt political intentions right up front. He's being very frank that any attempts to create any kind of movement will be an electioneering gambit, a means toward the end of power. Which, right there, tells you all you need to know about his commitment to higher principles and priorities.

Newt, we know Al Gore -- and you are no Al Gore.

That said: If this issues-advocacy-based model does turn out to be a new trend in campaigning, I gotta say that it beats anything else currently on the scene. We could do worse than having our pols running around trying to find real problems to solve, and devoting themselves to creating effective solutions in order to prove to us that they're serious change leaders worthy of our respect and our votes.

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