It was not so long ago that, after a debate in Hollywood between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats (and some media cheerleaders) enthused that the party would do well to have either one of them as candidates.
Well, that was then and this is now. Clinton’s favorable rating sunk to 37% in the last NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Democrats are fretting that Obama’s association with Reverend Wright and refusal to make a clean break with his “mentor” has doomed his chances with white, working class voters. John McCain now leads both Democrats in a number of key swing states including Ohio, Florida and Missouri.
What to do? Joe Klein offered up a solution: Al Gore. The superdelegates, he postulated, faced with a choice between a faltering Obama or a Clinton seeking to snatch the nomination from the pledged delegate winner instead, could turn to Gore “for the good of the party.” While Klein’s admittedly far-fetched scheme seems ripped from an Allen Drury novel, it does point to a troubling conclusion the Democrats are slowly reaching: neither one of their candidates matches up very well against John McCain.
Why would they turn to Gore? Well, he has no racial baggage, having never associated himself with a hate-mongering preacher or disparaged his opponent as another Jesse Jackson. He has actual experience in foreign and domestic policy. He has international stature as the guru of global warming. Gore even has a spouse who is not a liability. We can argue about the wisdom of his policy positions. But we’re dealing with Democrats looking for a deus ex machina.
And what does that say in turn about the most likely nominee, Obama? He is the un-Gore. Obama sports a giant potential liability in his association with Wright. He lacks any real governing expertise or track record. He has never been in any executive role. For independents he may simply seem too callow and untested to be trusted with national security. So it’s little wonder that Democrats are developing a serious case of buyer’s remorse.
It would seem then that the “Gore Option” is further proof–if any was needed–that Democrats are growing increasingly queasy about the person most likely to gain the nomination. Yet they just can’t bring themselves to accept Clinton as the alternative.