I find myself strangely bummed about the news of the impending separation of Al and Tipper Gore. Oh, I’ve chuckled at the man’s ability to embody the walking antidote to charisma and sworn at his unprecedented and divisive refusal to accept defeat during the 2000 recount, but nobody deserves the pain that comes with the ordeal of the end of a marriage, even under reasonably amicable circumstances. And it’s a bit surprising to watch a couple split after they’ve experienced everything the Gores have — raising children, a rise to prominence in the Senate, the national spotlight during the 1992 campaign, eight years a heartbeat away from the presidency, the bitter defeat of the 2000 campaign, the cavalcade of awards for a documentary — Oscar, Nobel — and then . . . with their lives actually rather quiet, then they find they can’t live with each other anymore? They could handle everything except circumstances that almost resembled normal life?
But then again, perhaps when you’re in the white-hot spotlight of national politics, the sense that it’s the two of you against the world can keep you together. A divorce during his vice-presidency would have complicated Gore’s 2000 bid; a divorce in the years after his defeat would have left folks whispering that the experience tore them apart. Throughout it all, they probably needed each other. Today, with some space, and with the national political press largely considering them an afterthought . . . the circumstances are different. Sad, nonetheless.