Disclaimer: I want Gore to be President.
That said, he does not have to run for the Presidency. No matter how strongly some people here at Dailykos call for his candidacy and no matter how logical the arguments may be for his candidacy, he does not have to run. As some write her at Dailykos, we may need him to run and we may want him to run, but he does not have to run.
Below, I have written commentary about why Gore will not run for the Presidency. I chose what I just wrote carefully; I would be pleased to be proven wrong. Nevertheless, I approached this concept in the same way I used to coach high school soccer: how would I defeat my own team?
The following is not in any order; I look upon these reasons as a whole and without any sort of ranking. I expect arguments but I also would like to encourage ideas that I may have missed.
The moment Gore announces, he would be saying that the Obama, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd and Biden campaigns are effectively over and were failures. Senator Clinton has been the front-runner for so long and has supported the "inevitability" meme so consistently that a Gore candidacy would have only one purpose: defeat Clinton in a head-to-head match. Even if he were successful, Gore would have to assuage any and all hurt feelings among the supporters of these other candidates. He may have to do the same for some of the candidates, themselves.
The moment Gore announces, any and all of his writings, appearances and speeches become politically suspect, particularly any during this past year. Has he been campaigning all along? Has he been sincere in his statements or has he been merely inventing a candidacy? Gore is capable of such a subterfuge; his book The Assault On Reason, supposedly about the loss of political discussion and reasoning in the United States, is actually a damning indictment of the Bush administration and current right wing political belief. It is a call, as well, for vigorous growth of political communication outside of the mainstream media and established political institutions. The inferred criticism of current structures on the left can be defended.
The value of earning the esteem of others is strong in southern society. Behaviors and attitudes are honed for just the purpose of being worthy of the good opinions of others. In its best sense, this is beyond ego or self-esteem; it is a validation of life. Gore’s work since the 2000 election has earned him the status of a world leader. It could be argued that he is the most admired man alive. For him to surrender that status and reenter partisan politics would require a severe shift in perspective. While many Gore supporters argue that he could pursue his ideas best as the President, he may very well believe his life has led him to do exactly what he is doing.
Gore was once a theology student; he wasn’t a very good one but that may be more a function of not "hearing the call" as anything. He was curious about what he should do with his life. Any knowledgeable Christian (or religious scholar) is aware of one of the temptations of Jesus: he was offered a crown. Such a crown would have brought power, wealth, fame and a position to pursue good intentions. What would be lost, however, was the power of the message, the unassailability of truth and the moral authority of one who has surrendered to a higher purpose than mere human governance. Gore has hinted at but never discussed his religious experience. It may be that the energy and assurance that he brings to his global warming agenda is a product of what could be called an "awakening." It is notable that one of Gore’s most fervent admirers is Jimmy Carter; it would not be unusual for someone as strongly called to service as Carter to recognize the same quality in another person.
The Presidency in 2009:
The shear weight of the burden that will be placed upon the next President has spawned some interesting approaches from the Democratic candidates. In extremely general overviews, Clinton offers competency, Obama change, Edwards a healed society. All are expected to pursue actively and obviously an end to the Iraq debacle. A Gore presidency, on the other hand, would be expected to have all of those things plus renew the American government of laws plus lead the world environmentally. Throw in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and preventing a recession and you have unreasonable demands on Gore. Unlike the other candidates, who may reasonably pursue being just a good politician, Gore has a status that would place expectations upon him to be both a redeemer and savior. Anything less would be opined as failure.
The Democratic Party:
Actually, by not being a candidate, Gore owes nothing to anyone. Should he become a candidate, the other campaigns would become disrupted by defections but it would be Gore who could decide who will ride his bus. There is very little doubt that Gore would almost instantly raise a lot of money. Almost all of it could be spent on media including aggressive internet campaigning. It must be remembered that Gore endorsed Dean in 2004. Gore won an Oscar for a "message" film and an Emmy for a new communications network. The free media he has enjoyed for more than a year is as effective as anything he could have paid for. If he should win the Nobel Peace Prize, a distinct possibility, the news coverage will be beyond price. It can be seriously debated whether or not he even needs to invest in a "ground campaign."
With so much going for him, achieving the nomination would place a burden on Gore that the other candidates would not necessarily have in the same situation. There can be no doubt that Gore would be lobbied and pressured to have either Clinton or Obama as his running mate if for no other reason than to achieve a long-sought first. If a woman is not going to be President, or if a Black man is not going to be President, then one should be the first woman or Black man Vice President. Choosing one and not the other may cause a fissure in the Party that Gore would not want to have to address.
On the other hand, Gore could use his position to prod (and perhaps bully) all of his rivals for the nomination into his Cabinet or they’d be at risk of being shut out or marginalized. Cabinet-level positions filled by Edwards, Richardson and Dodd, and Clark as well, would be well-served. The questions, however, would be whether Senator Clinton, denied the nomination and possibly the Vice Presidency, would return to the Senate and challenge for Leadership or whether she could be cajoled into being Secretary of State. Would Obama return to the Senate or take any Cabinet spot of his choice?