The Corner

Gore’s Catch-22

Gary Rosen writes over at Contentions:

It is not just that Gore is fat and happy these days, basking in a kind of popular adulation that he never knew even at the height of his political success. Nor is it that he has now reached a plane above mere politics, which has become the conventional wisdom among Democrats eager to keep him from joining the race. “Why would he run for President when he can be a demigod?” Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman and Democratic strategist, told the Times with an apparently straight face. “He now towers over all of us because he’s pure.” This will be news to anyone who has dipped into Gore’s virulently partisan book or heard him speak lately in something other than his unctuous “save the planet” mode.

No, the problem with another Gore candidacy is that it would be a huge embarrassment, not for all the old, familiar reasons but precisely because of the issue that has redeemed him. Gore’s alarmism about climate change, now widely recognized, has left Democrats in an awkward position. If they were to follow the lead of the Nobel committee, which commended Gore for recognizing “the measures that need to be adopted” to remedy the problem, they would commit instant political suicide.

Rosen, who has  more to say, is absolutely right. Indeed, if Kyoto is so vital — at least as a first step — ask yourself why Senate Democrats haven’t taken it up. If your answer is that they can’t because Bush has “refused to sign Kyoto” you need to stop letting Democratic talking points substitute for thinking. Bush has refused to sign Kyoto for the same reason he has refused to sign the armistice with Japan: he can’t. A previous president already signed Kyoto, he just never sent it to the senate for ratification, because he knew it would fail. What’s lacking isn’t a presidential signature but a senate willing to adopt Kyoto. Some argue the president doesn’t need to send the treaty to the senate, the senate can take it up any time it wants. Others claim the president does need to submit it to the senate. But either way, you haven’t heard Reid clamoring to take it up. Why? Because if they adopted anything like Kyoto they’d be thrown out of office. These days we’re supposedly moving beyond Kyoto. Fine. But the political dynamics that made it a non-starter will be with us for a very long while. Hence the Gore Catch-22.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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