Gore v. Bush:
Now that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize (along with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the clearest difference between the former vice president and the current president is placed into even starker relief. In essence, Gore has elevated the world as a whole above the United States as a single entity within it. George W. Bush has placed the United States above the world. And Gore's non-electoral ascension, concomitant as it has been with Bush's descent into the miasma of low poll numbers and a destroyed party and disgrace in the world, reveals just how untenable the Bush position is: a nation can no longer succeed in this world unless its ultimate goal is to be part of the world.

Or, to put it another way, Gore won. Again. When the books are written, in the long-term histories of this and other countries, Al Gore will be cherished and George Bush will be crushed like so much real manure on a fake ranch. Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize does in Bush's seeming obsession with his legacy. And that's due in no small part to the smallness of Bush's thinking compared to the expansiveness of Gore's.

The Bush administration's foreign policy can perhaps be described as interventionist isolationism. In other words, sure, sure, the United States'll invade other countries and create open trade and other actions, but the ultimate goals of those efforts are not to improve the world or the lot of other people. If that's a by-product of the action, then, sure, hell, at least that provides cover for what is, at root, self-interest and greed and the bald assertion of power to the end of propagating further self-interest and greed. Yeah, yeah, every nation's foreign policy has a degree of self-interest. It has to. But for the United States under the Bush regime, it is the primary, if not the sole, consideration, no matter what lies they tell about planting seeds of democracy or some such nonsense.

Back in 2000, because we didn't riot in the streets and shut down the country in the wake of the presidential election debacle, the nation essentially abandoned Al Gore. And while Al Gore didn't totally abandon the nation, he turned his focus to the effort to demonstrate that real leadership need not emanate from the false mandate of a corrupted electoral process. In his crusade for action on climate change, Gore not only remade himself, but he remade the way in which people think about the world at large. Here was not just a cause confined to a specific continent (like African hunger) or a fight against a tyrant like Hitler to catalyze large portions of the population. Here was a way of thinking of the Earth as a whole, a way of seeing the interdependence of each country, of each population, and Gore has shifted a generation's view of itself as part of something larger.

The great failure of the United States to lead on this issue, to be the place where we create solutions that benefit the globe, keep economies humming, and raise humanity up in a way that might, truly, do more for peace than all the pre-emptive wars ever, rests squarely on the shoulders of George W. Bush and his administration.

It's the difference between a man who traveled and studied the world by choice in his life and a man who has to be dragged to different countries like a particularly incontinent dog is dragged out to the sidewalk on a snowy day.

Gore's not gonna run. Give that up. To go from speaking out about melting icecaps to being asked what he thinks about, say, a flag-burning amendment would be a degradation of what he's worked for the last six years. And had that statewide recount in Florida happened and Gore had become president, Republicans would have simply worked night and day trying to destroy him, and his causes would have been washed away in a tide of worthless investigations of Buddhist monk phone calls and worse. And let's not even get into how Republicans would have exploded in berserk, ape-like rage over 9/11 if it had happened under a Gore presidency.

It's not that we're not worthy or that he's too good for us or any of that hyperbolic nonsense. We got the president we deserved, twice, and we realized too late that we didn't get the president we needed. As with so many things, our own temptation to that latent American selfishness has done us in.