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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New New Gore

I’m sure Ezra Klein’s cover story on the “reborn” Al Gore will get a lot of attention in the blogosphere and perhaps well beyond it. In case you don’t have time to read it, Ezra’s basic take is that Gore’s post-2000 political career has represented a thoughtful and integrity-filled repudiation of the Veep’s own cautious, centrist past; of the failed strategy of his 2000 campaign; and most especially, of the “old media” mindset that did him so much damage in 2000. I obviously don’t share Ezra’s characterization of Gore’s New Democrat heritage as one of “equivocating” and playing the mainstream media’s game. (I sometimes despair of convincing bloggers that people like me support what we support and oppose what we oppose for reasons of principle). Nor do I think it’s a particular badge of honor if Ezra’s right in saying that Gore has evolved from the 1990s cool-kids prefererence for New Democrats to the contemporary cool-kids attachment to the Dean Campaign legacy.But there’s no question Ezra is right about one thing: whether or not he’s campaigning for president (we should probably take him at his word that he’s not), Al Gore is clearly campaigning against his own past, about as systematically as anyone could do. Unlike Ezra, I think that reversal began during, not after, the 2000 campaign, when Gore could not bring himself to consistently campaign on the successful record of his own administration (his real blunder, IMO, not his occasional “populism,” which if a bit disembodied was fine). And that, not his previous loyalty to Clinton and his policies, was his real moment of “equivocation.”

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