Well, it seems that it hasn't taken long for the media to begin the ritual practice of "goring" Al Gore. This isn't really surprising (see the last post). But they do move fast. The first sign was when a mouthpiece for the oil industry compared Gore to Josef Goebbels. This is apparently not an example of irony. But! Not to be outdone, this week another oil industry shill compared him to Hitler. Other examples have multiplied as well, from Adam Nagourney's gratutious slap to Howard Feinman's unflattering anectdote, to Jonah Goldberg just deciding to disbelieve something that Gore said for no other reason than that he's Al Gore.
It is truly amazing to me that putatively responsible journalists would take character traits and remarks which would be considered to be completely harmless in any other political figure and turn them into enormous character flaws in Al Gore. Looking back on the last six years, hasn't it occurred to even one of these guys that George Bush's very real character flaws have proven to be far, far, FAR more damaging to the country than the almost entirely fictional character flaws that they attribute to Al Gore? Hasn't it occurred to even one of them that they were partly responsible, by their incessant focus on triviality at the expense of substantive policy, for thrusting upon us literally the worst president in a century? Hasn't it occurred to even one of them that by any measure of presidential competence, we would have been better off by every measurable standard if Al Gore had been President?
And, most importantly, given rising global temperatures, given glacial retreat, dying forests, and massive floods, not to mention the total consensus among climate experts, hasn't it occurred to them that on the most basic policy issue of the coming century, Al Gore is right and has been right for twenty years?
And yet, here they are again, rolling out the exact same slurs they used the last time.
Lindsay, I think, has it about right:
In 2000, Gore ran a decent campaign as the VP of the most popular president in living memory. Yet, somehow the election was still close enough for the Republicans to steal in Florida.
Gore's public persona wasn't as polished as it could have been, but the real problem was that the mainstream media wouldn't cut him a break. They decided early on to cast him as the stiff, arrogant, geeky, unlikable, stuffed shirt.
When Gore didn't do anything wrong, the press made up "fibs" to pin on him. Gore never claimed to have invented the internet, or to have inspired Love Story. Yet, the press kept repeating these truthy little chestnuts, even after they had been debunked. At first they warned him against being cold and haughty. Then when he followed their advice and warmed up his demeanor, they slagged him for being phony and desperate.
The media sandbagged Gore the first time around, and they still hate him.
The election of 2008 is too important to allow the media morons to screw it up again. If Gore runs (and I sincerely hope he does), then not a single one of these slurs can be allowed to stand. It will be necessary at every stage to savagely, savagely respond to any and all attempts at a repeat goring. What is needed is an independent strategy to widely disseminate and publicize those responses, so that nobody to the left of the John Birch Society can repeat them with a straight face, or at least not without being laughed out of the room.
Fortunately, this is a place where the blogs can play an important role. The job is already underway, but more needs to be done. The responses need to moved from the blogosphere to the mainstream, so that even Tim Russert won't let these smears go unrefuted.
And that, in all honesty, is the hard part.