Published in the New York Post on March 30, 2008.
Even as the rest of the Democratic Party around him takes sides in the epic struggle of Clinton vs. Obama, Al Gore remains inscrutable, silent, above the battle.
His gigantic but unspoken presence is raising rumors and fueling speculation. Joe Klein, writing in Time Magazine, even suggested a scenario where a deadlocked convention turns its lonely eyes to Al.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson comes out for Obama, and so do Ted Kennedy and Bill Bradley. Govs. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jon Corzine of New Jersey back Hillary. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while avoiding an endorsement, speaks out to ask superdelegates to respect the will of the voters.
But barely a peep from Big Al, except to say, “I think it’s going to resolve itself. We’ll see.”
What’s his game?
A source close to him confirms that he does not plan to make any endorsement until after the primaries are over on June 3. And then? All they’ll say is “stay tuned.”
For what? Our guess is that Al is keeping his powder dry to lead the superdelegates in accepting the will of the voters. Perhaps in concert with a Gang of Five that might include former president Jimmy Carter, Pelosi, Party Chairman Howard Dean and former candidate John Edwards, Gore may act as the elder statesman in the party, stepping in after all the voters have spoken, asking the Clintons to accept the will of the people and give way.
He might quell the credentials battles, giving Florida and Michigan some representation in return for a recognition that Obama should be the nominee.
He could be the one who brings closure to what could be an open-ended summer bloodbath.
What about the chances that Al would go the other way and urge a Hillary nomination?
Seeing himself as the victim of one stolen election, we don’t think Gore will be anxious to switch sides and help the Clintons steal this one.
He knows that all hell would break lose if the nomination goes to Hillary after the voters give Obama a lead of over 100 votes among elected delegates, and he realizes that the Democratic Party might never recover from the resulting bitterness.
But if Al acts as the honest broker, he can have a great influence and earn the everlasting gratitude of his party for leading the way in avoiding a civil war.