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Saturday, December 21, 2002

So what is Gore's withdrawal from the 2004 race really about? While his recent criticisms of Bush policies and call for universal health care weren't likely to persuade many of the minority Bush voters to vote for him next time, they also wouldn't have cost him many of those who voted for him in 2000 and were very appealing to Nader voters like me, and especially to the majority of voting-age Americans who don't vote at all. The millions of people working low-wage jobs who have opted to buy food rather than health care for themselves and their children would have had a great incentive to get out and vote for the candidate who would make it unnecessary for them to make that awful choice.

As the WSWS points out, the mainstream media has been lavish in their praise of Gore for dropping out. I've been disturbed by the large numbers of editorial cartoons that I've seen which show either donkeys celebrating or elephants crying over Gore's announcement. This is shear nonsense. Aside from Hillary, Gore is better known than any other potential Democratic candidate. With his apparent new approach to telling it like it is rather than what his advisers said, he was easily the Dems best chance to beat Bush--again. My guess, as the WSWS suggests, is that it was becoming clear that Gore wasn't going to get the financial backing of the corporations if he pursued a populist agenda. A more sinister thought is that he was threatened with attacks such as anthrax letters to his family if he didn't withdraw. If Gore had persisted with his attacks on Bush militarism, his call for universal health care, and had returned to his previous interest in protecting the environment (his sellout on this issue in 2000 is why I voted for Nader instead (and don't blame me, Gore still won Michigan)), he would have been well on his way to becoming our 44th president.

Actually, I think his withdrawal makes him in some ways even more appealing as a candidate. I think maybe Lincoln was the last president we've had (well, perhaps Eisenhower or Carter) who wasn't just drooling over the prospect of being president. The result has been that most candidates, no matter how well-intentioned when they started, have sold their souls to get elected. Gore did this in 2000, and it worked until the court-ordered coup threw him out. But now it seems as though he is trying to buy his soul back, and if he succeeds he would be an excellent candidate for 2004. Maybe we should start a "draft Al" campaign in either the Democratic or Green parties.