Greenhouse Gore
Jude Wanniski
July 14, 1998

 

Memo To: Sen. Bob Torricelli [D-NJ]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Run, Bob, Run!

Remember you telling me that if you had known how easy it would have been to beat Christie Whitman last year, you would have waited and run for governor instead of running and winning in '96 for Senator? You have the opportunity now to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000, and with a small amount of money, you could easily knock off the Vice President. Everyone assumes he will be the nominee, but while that might happen if the organization was picking him in a smoke-filled room, it won't be that easy when you actually ask ordinary people to vote him into the Oval Office. Read last Tuesday's column by Tony Snow and you will get my drift. There's nothing to lose. Throw your hat in the ring and start talking. In no time at all, people will start throwing money at you to run.

"That Clunk You Hear Is Our Vice-President"
by Tony Snow

WASHINGTON Some have it, some don't. "It" is a sensibility an innate feel for people's aches, yearnings and needs.

Bill Clinton has it; Al Gore doesn't.

Let's review current events. Last week, Florida turned into kindling. Flames danced from tree to tree, home to home, street to street, devouring the better part of five countries. Choking smoke whirled madly in the skies, competing with the sun.

Police snatched thousands of people from their homes. Frightened families fled at the sound of crackling fire. Authorities shut down nearly 200 miles of Interstate 95.

In the midst of this holocaust, Gore flew in, serving as surrogate for his president, who was in China.

After surveying the carnage, the vice-president stepped up to a podium, looked out at a weary throng, and informed the throng that the tragedy served as a powerful reminder of what global warming could do to the planet.

Imagine yourself sitting in that audience. A mad blaze has just reduced your home to ash. It has consumed your wedding photos. It has turned the only extant pictures of your deceased great-grandmother into glowing cinders. You last saw them spiraling upward, shedding faint sparks as they gave themselves to the clouds.

You tote up your losses. You grieve for what you can never reclaim. And here comes some bozo delivering a tendentious lecture about carbon-dioxide sinks.

Never mind that Gore's environmental theories increasingly are becoming a laughing stock in scientific circles. Just think practically. Who wants to hear from a person who has such a leaden sense of other people's grief?

Gore belongs to a unique Washington type: the overcompensating dullard. He knows people think of him as a bore. He has an entire comedy routine on the subject. It was funny four years ago. Now, it reminds audiences that the central charge is true.

Like many whose ambitions outrace their natural gifts, Gore works hard. He outhustled Jack Kemp in 1996. He outstudied Ross Perot before their free-trade debate. He is not one to take lightly.

Yet at the end of each workout and makeover, one cannot help but feel that the vice-president is a profoundly derivative man. When he speaks, you don't hear the thrum of a passionate heart; you hear the click of a tape recorder. You get recitation, not a sermon.

At the same time, however, he speaks with poignant honesty. You can hear a conscience screaming, "Say what you believe!" But like a child who lacks social graces, Gore has a tendency to express himself with the bluntness of the library geek. He is the kind of guy who will attend an aunt's funeral and wander from mourner to mourner, declaring, "you know, she'd still be alive today if she hadn't been so fat."

His artless lecture on global warming wasn't an isolated incident. Like the spinster matchmaker, Gore insists on working to improve everybody he sees. He constantly instructs others on lifestyles, manners and habits. Indeed, fresh off his Florida trip, he showed up on the Mall in Washington, armed with meat thermometer and spatula.

Why? Because he wanted to teach Americans how to prepare their holiday meals. "Don't let avoidable foodborne illness endanger life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he said enchanting himself by echoing the Declaration of Independence.

Upon completing the witticism, he leaned over a propane grill, jammed a probe into a patty of ground beef and, upon inspecting the appropriate gauge, shouted triumphantly, "One hundred and sixty-five degrees!"

One hardly knows whether to laugh or weep at such a spectacle. Here is a vice-president of the United States. His boss has groomed him with unprecedented love and care. And yet, he willingly fritters away his inheritance.

Gore has become the patron saint of our insecurities. He may not feel our pain, but we feel his. We know how it feels to wither under pressure. We know how it feels to say the wrong thing at the worst time. And we know what it's like to chuckle knowingly as people point and laugh at somebody behind us --- only to  turn slowly and discover there is nobody there.

Tony Snow is The Detroit News editorial page's Washington columnist. His column is published on Monday and Thursday.