The Right’s Obsession With Al Gore
Is it time for Al Gore to get over the election of 2000, or for Conservatives to get over Al Gore? Mariel Garza argues that critics of Gore's Nobel Peace Prize are just angry that the former vice president "had the gall to go and do something meaningful with his time."
October 19, 2007 - 1:00 am
Conservatives just can’t get over Al Gore’s post-presidential loss (or win, depending on who you ask) success. And it’s probably not due to jealousy over his corpulent good looks. Nor is it really about the supposed “junk science” he’s selling. Even Republicans now embrace climate change as the future of American competitiveness; just look at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
No, there’s some deeper animosity at work here. I suspect it has something to do with how he refused to slink away to the Land of Failed Democrats once he was creamed by George Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court and the machinery of the GOP in 2000. Worse still, he had the gall to go and do something meaningful with his time.
“Oooh, the nerve!” You could almost hear the frustration and teeth gnashing Friday after the announcement was made that those known liberals over there in Norway had awarded Gore the Nobel Peace Prize. Conservative commentators across the nation from Rush Limbaugh to my own colleagues at the Los Angeles Daily News rushed to denounce Gore, the Nobel prizes, and even polar bears.
Limbaugh, a long-time Gore basher, said that by picking Gore over himself for the prize the Nobel committee had lost all credibility.
Ann Coulter was too busy responding to an outcry over her comments about Jews and promoting her new book to trash her favorite “total fag” (her words, not mine). But she did manage to mock Democrats’ concerns for polar bears during a visit on Bill O’Reilly’s TV show on Monday.
Marlo Lewis Jr., a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (one of the leaders in the climate-change deniers camp), said on CNN on Friday that Gore is manipulative and misleading. “He is presenting global warming as a planetary emergency.”
And many simply dismissed the news by saying that it was a “joke.”
Yeah, they’re mad alright.
The typical argument that Gore doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace prize goes something like this: Gore isn’t a peacemaker because he hasn’t stopped an actual war, just advanced some loony cause about the Earth getting warmer and ending life as we know it that he’s managed to sell to just about everyone, except the corporate apologists and ardent Gore haters (who are smarter than everyone else – especially scientists.) Plus, he flies around in a personal jet as part of his environmental crusade, not some solar-powered hovercraft vehicle made out of vegetable skins that can be composted after each use.
The argument is as silly as it is prevalent. Even if you don’t buy that humanity has been engaged in a war against Mother Nature (which I, as a green sympathizer, do), being a peacemaker is about much more than the cessation of war. The Nobel committee – that collection of liberals that conservatives like to sneer at for celebrating other peacenik liberals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama – understands that.
In announcing the prize for Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the committee was acknowledging the now widely accepted understanding that human-related climate change will, if not dealt with, cause serious violence and death, not to to humans, but to the Earth’s fauna and flora. Many scientists believe it already is, as is evidenced by more extreme weather such as Hurricane Katrina.
“Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states,” the committee said it its official announcement.
If Gore doesn’t deserve the prize for not stopping a war, then many past winners don’t either. Medicins Sans Fronti√®res (which won in 1999) ministers to the medical needs of people all around the world regardless of politics, but that’s not directly working toward peace. In fact, some clever debater could probably make the case that the group even supports and prolongs war by indiscriminately patching up people who might one day go to fight in one. I don’t remember conservatives griping about that.
Heck, President Woodrow Wilson won the award just a couple years after signing the United States up for World War I.
The second part of the complaint is even less compelling: The prize is just political anyhow, so it doesn’t count. The obvious answer is, duh. When was the prize not political? It’s not like my mom, the life-long anti-war activist, will ever win it. World leaders (who are usually politicians) are typically the only ones with enough influence and power to change the world in quantum shifts.
Truth is, Gore fits right in with the long list of Peace prize winners. So what’s with all the stamping of conservative feet?
As the news stories about people urging him to run for president in 2008 start appearing, it starts to all make sense. It’s not anger; it’s fear. Who’s got a polar bear’s chance in hell against the man who saved the world?