Al Gore recently gave a lengthy interview to Ryan Lizza (Click 'Al Gore's New Theory' on the Google page I've linked to). Lizza also wrote an article accompanying the interview which will be published in The New Republic (free registration required to read) on Wednesday, June 13th. Yeah, I know many of you here on Daily Kos (including our fearless leader) despise the magazine but the interview is a great read.
In response to a question about how the declared candidates have tackled the issue of Global Warming, Gore says
Well, some of them have made some interesting statements, but I'm not trying to directly influence them. If I could I would, but I long since decided that the only way to solve this climate crisis is by going straight to the grassroots and bringing about a massive sea change in public opinion. And that's the campaign that I'm focused on.
Now, I wrote this diary last evening - Gore Gets the Pulpit, Without the Media Bullies - in which I outlined Gore's (so far) successful strategy of bypassing the Mainstream Media (MSM) and effectively communicating his message. Going straight to the grassroots? That would be us, folks! Gore could have as easily decided not to emphasize that fact. From my reading of it, I can only conclude that he has learnt the lessons of campaigns past and, in fact, knows exactly what he's doing. I strongly believe now that he has decided that, unlike his 2000 Campaign and to the extent possible, he's going to confront the MSM and its inadequecies at every available opportunity - head on.
Notice that Gore doesn't diss any of the present candidates but neither does he offer great praise for any of them. In response to Lizza's question if substantive issues are being discussed in the campaign, Gore doesn't spare the Democratic Party either
When I ask what he thinks of the current debate among Democratic presidential aspirants, Gore interrupts me.
"Is there one?" he asks sarcastically.
"Is there not?" I reply.
"What is it?"
"That's why I'm trying to figure out--"
"If you find out, let me know."
If you saw Gore's recent interviews with Diane Sawyer on ABC and Charlie Rose on PBS, you may have noticed a new, much more aggressive Gore. Lizza confirms this fact that Gore wants to (as much as possible) to deal with the media on his own terms
In person, Gore has a commanding, even intimidating, presence uncommon among politicians. Yes, he's physically large; but he's also a little distant, which makes him seem more authoritative. A few nights earlier, I had watched Charlie Rose interview Gore at the 92nd Street Y in New York, and, during a few exchanges, Gore turned the tables on him, pointedly asking Rose to clarify a rambling statement, which the host then struggled to explain. Similarly, several times during a recent TV interview with Diane Sawyer, Gore gently ridiculed her for asking about the 2008 horserace or his weight, rather than the substance of his book. "Listen to your questions," he admonished at one point. Gore believes he has written a serious book, and he is in no mood to suffer fools.
This is a wide-ranging interview which touches upon many of the themes Gore wrote about in his book 'The Assault on Reason.' On the role of the internet, Gore sounds very optimistic
Well the internet is growing in significance and power. And if it is protected and if its freedom and accessibility is protected than I think that we will see it used as a source of strength and renewal for American democracy.
I do think, as I say elsewhere, we are already beginning to see signs of renewal. Quoting from another part of the book: Broadband interconnection is supporting decentralized processes that reinvigorate democracy. We can see it happening before out eyes. As a society we are getting smarter. Network democracy is taking hold. You can feel it.
A decade ago, perhaps Gore would have paid closer attention to the article cited in this diary. The liberated, assertive Gore couldn't care less for his critics. It's not that he doesn't respect their views; rather, they don't influence his thinking as much as they used to in years past. In searching for a new approach to campaigning, is he having any success? Lizza seems to think so
The great challenge that Gore will face if he chooses to run for president is how to make the wrenching transition from outside critic of the political system to inside participant. Obama, another systems analyst with a powerful indictment of politics, has been trying to make a similar conversion and has achieved mixed results. I tried to get Gore to discuss how he might do things differently this time. He resisted the question but did offer this: "If I were a candidate, I would seek to engage people in a robust exchange of ideas on all these questions and find ways to use the new tools effectively." In a sense, that's what he's already doing.
Will this new approach work? I think we are going to find out in the coming months.
* - I just saw this from a Greek admirer of Gore's intellect
Al Gore is in Athens this week and will be giving a presentation on his "Green" Crusade at the Palais des Arts (or in Greek, Megaro Mousikis) tonight.
I did have a chance though, through a sortof VIP invite, to hear him talk last night (I actually even popped him a techie question and was simply dumbfolded by his answer...his answer had more insight than most people I work with indicating a strong holistic approach coupled with extreme insight and detailed knowledge) and was simply enchanted (both I and my wife) by his eloquence and structured approach.
Now, other than some Albanians, has anyone ever been "enchanted" with George W. Bush? In fact, Republicans are talking of hiding the president from public view during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN! :)
(crossposted at Truth & Progress)