It's like the best revenge fantasy ever, come true: Everyone who was ever mean to you, who wrote you off or sabotaged you? That nasty high school guidance counselor? The catty New York Times columnist? The partisan Supreme Court justice? Well, they can kiss your Oscar, your Emmy or your Nobel Peace Prize, because you won all three! In the same year!
I'm sure Al Gore doesn't think that way. But I do. I find myself a little dispirited by Gore's well-deserved win. I feel like it's the universe telling us what a broken political system we have: This is the man who could have been, should have been, our 43rd president, but our political elites did him in. Especially the media elites, who chased stories about a blue dress and earth tones at the close of the 20th century, abetting the selection of George W. Bush, a man whom history is almost certain to judge our worst president. And he still has an additional 15 months in office.
I know that Gore's loss made him a better person. His exile liberated him to be the fierce fighter and truth teller he has become, on Iraq and global warming. He ran a bad campaign in 2000, unsure about how populist to be, running away from the Clinton legacy, but it was still good enough to have made him president. I find myself watching the sliming of young Graeme Frost and comparing it with what happened to Gore: The same political bottom-feeders are still at work; they'll do what they can to personally, viciously smear their political opponents, even children. (But at least they're not being aided by the New York Times Op-Ed page on this one. Paul Krugman's column today is great, by the way.)
I'm proud of Al Gore, I'm happy for him. I expect the media to turn his big win into a problem for Democrats: Will he run for president? Does the fact that people are raising the question mean the party has bad candidates? Should Hillary Clinton be afraid? Should John Edwards just pack it all in? Should Barack Obama run for running mate instead? I don't expect Gore to enter the race -- he's changing the world doing what he's doing right now -- but we'll see what he decides. In the meantime, I hope he savors his win, and I'll try not to think about our loss.