Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gore and Gingrich: The More Things Change ...

The more they stay the same. Sometimes a line is so good it's worth using again ... and again ... and again.

In the space of 12 hours between Saturday night at 10:30 PM CDT and Sunday morning at 10:30 AM CDT, I saw two major political figures of the last decade of the last century, acting to all the world as if they should be taken seriously as potential national leaders -- presidential candidates in 2008, even? -- for the future: Al Gore opened Saturday Night Live sitting behind the desk in the "Oval Office," giving a speech to the nation as if he were midway through his second term; Newt Gingrich appeared for an extended interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press the following morning.

Each was, in his own way, nothing short of stupendous.

Here's a link to see the Gore bit:
  • Click here

  • In this bit, Gore showed that he has mastered the art of self-deprecating humor. I have no idea how many times he had to practice the lines, and I have no idea who wrote the bit for him. (Al Franken? That'd make sense.) But while the piece was definitely well-written -- Gore even mocked SNL's 2000 mocking of him, referring to the "lockbox" on two occasions -- it was Gore's delivery that made the piece work. He looked comfortable playing a President on TV, and even the more outrageous lines were delivered in a tone that was a perfect blend of gravity and levity.

    Could Gore run again in 2008? Sure, why not? Were he to do so, he'd be in good company. His career arc then would look eerily similar to one of the Left's greatest boogeymen: a war veteran who came back from war, served two terms in the House before getting elected to the US Senate, then was chosen for his party's national ticket and served as Vice President to a very successful President for eight years, at the end of which time he ran for President and lost in one of the closest elections in American history, complete with still-believed allegations of vote-stealing and corrupt counting; this guy then went away, sat out a Presidential cycle, and came roaring back 8 years after that first presidential loss to claim his party's nomination on the way to winning the White House.

    His name: Richard Nixon.

    Like Nixon, Gore served his country in a time of war, then came home and ran for Congress; 8 years in the House, followed by 8 years in the Senate, followed by 8 years as Vice President, followed by a Presidential loss that still rankles half the country, six years later. Granted, the timing isn't the same -- Nixon only served two terms in the House before getting elected to the Senate, and was only a third of the way into his first Senate term when he was chosen as Dwight Eisenhower's VP running mate in 1952 -- but the career arc is.

    The key for Gore is that in this one bit -- which is already generating major buzz in the left-wing blogosphere (the link posted above is a link from CrooksandLiars.com, one of the most widely-read of the leftie blogs) -- Gore has attacked his single biggest vulnerability: that he was too pompous, too arrogant/insecure, too stuffy to be President. Now, it appears, he ... gets it.

    Gingrich, on the other hand, always had a different problem in terms of national perception -- he was never able to overcome the perception with which he branded himself early in his career, when he led a band of GOP conservative back-benchers to the well of the House night after night for "Special Orders," long monologues about the faults of the Democratic Party, which earned for Newt the sobriquet "bomb thrower."

    His appearance on Sunday's MTP was nothing if not sober. No bomb-throwing visible at all.

    Here's a link to the transcript: Gingrich on MTP transcript

    And here's a link to the full broadcast: Gingrich MTP video

    It's almost enough to make one wish for a Gore-Gingrich showdown in 2008.



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