Gore’s Next Book

According to this brief from The Washington Post, Al Gore will be publishing a book next year entitled The Assault on Reason:

That is when Gore is scheduled to publish his next book. With no fanfare, he signed a few weeks ago with Penguin Press to write “The Assault on Reason.”

As described by editor Scott Moyers, the book is a meditation on how “the public arena has grown more hostile to reason,” and how solving problems such as global warming is impeded by a political culture with a pervasive “unwillingness to let facts drive decisions.”

While that may sound abstract, both the subject matter and the timing of the release have an unmistakable subtext. In 2004, Gore cheered liberals when he lashed at President Bush for allegedly falling captive to right-wing special interests and taking flight from “fact-based analysis.” If the book strikes a chord, it will produce new momentum for Gore to make another bid for the White House, presumably fueled in large part by anti-Iraq-war Democrats.

I can’t wait to read it. But it will not help Al Gore win the 2008 election.

You see, the first thing that will happen after Gore publishes the book is that hordes of right-wing pundits will turn up on cable news to denounce it as further evidence of his arrogance and condescension. They will say he’s just another pompous, northeastern, liberal elite thinking he knows better than the common folk. That Gore is from Tennessee will not matter. The liberal pundits appearing ostensibly to challenge the right-wingers will merely laugh knowingly and complain that Gore is, indeed, charismatically challenged. Chat show hosts will preside over solemn debates discussing whether the book is, or is not, evidence of Gore’s patronizing annoyingness.

Inevitably it will turn out that in the book Gore claims something happened on a Monday, when really it happened on a Tuesday. This will lead to front-page articles in The Washington Post about how he is a serial liar who constantly exaggerates to puff himself up. The reporter lucky enough to catch the Gore screw-up beat will find himself on the Sunday chat shows to explain, with furrowed brow, that it’s not that Gore means to be dishonest, it is simply that his profound sense of entitlement to the Presidency sometimes overwhelms his better judgment. This will lead to further segments on cable news about how Gore can’t get out of bed in the morning without screwing something up. The cadres of pundits on to discuss this topic will express amusement that even though he has not even announced he is running for President, he is nonetheless repeating all his mistakes from 2000.

Meanwhile, the religious right will rise up en masse to protest Gore’s blatant assault on religious faith. After all, reason is nothing more that effete Hollywood-speak for anti-religion. People like Jim Dobson and Pat Robertson will issue press releases declaring that Christianity is under attack like never before. For their troubles – you guessed it! – they will be invited on the news shows to debate whether Gore’s book is, or is not, an assault on the religious faith of millions of Christians. That Gore is a deeply religious person who has been attending the same church for decades will be dismissed as evidence of his crass politicization of a personal issue. After all, everyone knows that Democrats only enter churches as part of a cynical ploy to fool real Americans into thinking they’re one of them.

National Review and The Weekly Standard will write about how Gore is just a socialist, terrorist-appeasing nut job. I mean, he wants to get rid of the internal combustion engine, right? Slate and The New Republic will run articles describing reason as being overrated. The Nation will find some instance where he cooperated with Republicans and brand him a traitor to the cause. Time and Newsweek will run cover stories about the growing controversy fueled by Gore’s serial lying and hostility towards religious people. Various liberal bloggers will rise to Gore’s defense, but this will simply lead to chat show segments about the inexplicable anger and unhinged delusionality of the left-wing blogosphere.

Around this time a Republican front-runner will appear. Regardless of who it is, he will be praised for his plain-spokeness and sincerity. His simple talk will be contrasted favorably with Gore’s nuance and waffling. Eventually they will debate, after which the pundits will discuss how stiff Gore looked. Said stiffness will be explained as the result of Gore not being comfortable in his own skin. Said discomfort will be explained as the result of his morbid obsession with winning the Presidency, an obsession born from his arrogant belief that the country needs him desperately. (Which will lead to further chat show debates about whether Gore does, or does not, have a messiah complex). At some point in the debate Gore and his opponent will clash over an easily verifiable bit of fact. This will lead to anguished discussion among the pundits about how the two parties simply have different visions of how the world works. That Gore is right and his opponent wrong will be deemed irrelevant. Facts don’t get ratings.

And through all of this you will be able to count on two hands the number of column inches and minutes of television time devoted to discussing Gore’s thesis. After all, such a discussion would require first reading the book, which would take time away from making things up out of whole cloth.

If Gore runs again I will vote for him happily. Sadly, it is unlikely the press would behave any better in 2008 than they did in 2000.

Comments

  1. #1 David D.G.
    September 18, 2006

    Wow. Jason, that’s probably the most cynical and depressing thing I have read in ages. And what’s most depressing about it is that it all rings true.

    To paraphrase Marshall McCluhan, “The spin is the message.” It isn’t even the medium that forms the message people hear anymore, and as you point out, the content gets squelched no matter what; it is just the spin, the innuendo, the tone, the presentation style that matters, especially when the media (which the conservatives inexplicably still condemn as “liberal”) so thoroughly pander to the whims and fancies of the neocons.

    The vast majority of people cannot, and do not WANT to, deal with content; for that they would have to think, and they have decided somehow that this would be un-American. So, instead, they’ll largely vote for the Best Smile and the Most Sincere Posture.

    Some fallout from GWB will improve the showing for Democrats, I’m sure, but I would not be surprised if the damage control from the incumbent party still manages to overcome it for the presidency, no matter who the candidates turn out to be.

    ~David D.G.

  2. #2 matthew
    September 18, 2006

    Holy crap.

    I kinda thought that his movie, appearance on SNL, and other various talk-show appearances was helping to dispel the collective agreement that he’s a stiff. Unless most people just haven’t been watching him at all these days, I personally thought he was fairing better in the public opinion polls concerning his mojo. I don’t know, it’s all bullshit to me, I’m so sick and tired of people who may very well be intelligent, being viewed negatively because they don’t have enough “flare” and “pizaz”. So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he won’t suffer as much as you think in the public’s eyes because of this. God knows he’ll get one-overed by the reps, but I think he’ll survive. Call me Mr. Optimist.

  3. #3 Tyler DiPietro
    September 18, 2006

    Of course, one could also point out that the Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot by playing the game by GOP rules. Those being: we fling poo all over you and you attempt to respond in a dignified way.

    The reason this doesn’t work is simple: there is an utter lack of emotion and passion involved in the way Democrats and other progressives respond to their critics on the right. The American public has been unfortunately dumbed down (by American Idol and other brain-rot material) to the point where things like reasoned argument, empirical evidence, nuance and even a hint of ambivalence are viewed as inherently weak and, you guessed it, un-American.

    It’s sad, but the only way the Democrats and the progressive movement in general is going to take back the country involves a huge overhaul in our campaign game-plan.

  4. #4 Brian
    September 18, 2006

    You’re right, and this same thing happened with his last book and with Ann Coulter’s last book. In both of these cases, the vast majority of the press surrounding them focused on utterly irrelevant minor points. In Ann Coulter’s case, it was the comments about the terror widows that got 98% of the press. So she’s a bitch – being inflammatory doesn’t change the validity of what you’re saying at all. And all her misinformation about evolution, etc, simply slipped under the radar without anybody in the mainstream really saying, “No, this is stupendously false.”

    And for Al Gore, a lot of the press surrounded him being “carbon neutral” while he was flying around to talk about global warming. Worst case scenario, he’s a hypocrite. But completely irrelevant.

    In neither case was the media actually focusing on any facts at all. All the coverage was basically “How does this make you feel?” And the people that were reflexively against Al Gore/Ann Coulter had an excuse to immediately reject what they were saying without addressing its validity at all. Which makes it all too ironic that a book about the dearth of reason today is going to be treated in exactly the same fashion.

  5. #5 Fred
    September 18, 2006

    Guys come on, my sides are hurting from laughing at all of this talk about how Republicans are any worse than Democrats. All politicians are equally bad. Oh, I mean: ALL POLITICIANS ARE EQUALLY BAD. There, that’s better. On certain issues the opinions of one side will be different than the other, but they’re all equally self-centered, dishonest, and bad for the country. Clinton was just as bad as Bush, just in different ways. And Kerry would be just as bad as Bush but in different ways.

    The thing is, there has never been a president that everyone liked. Abe Lincoln? HA HA HA AHAHA!!! Half the country quit the US because they hated him and his policies so much.

  6. #6 Kevin nyc
    September 18, 2006

    Fred,

    you are simply wrong. All politicians are NOT equally bad. That’s a silly thing to say. Elections have consequences and I’m sure that we would not be mired in a winless war with no strategy for going in or getting out if GWB had NOT been elected.

    make a list of what the republicans have either done or tried to do and compare it to what Clinton or Gore did/would have done….at every turn Bush and his cronies stand for the exact opposite of what I want to happen.

    drilling in ANWAR, as a cover for drilling in all our national parks and forests.

    attacks on gays and aetheists, as a proxy for attacking everyone who is not an xian.

    tax cuts and massive spending increases, as a tool to cripple the government while looting the treasury for the rich.

    unrestricted domestic spying, as a method of ensuring continued state control.

    and the list goes on…

  7. #7 John Farrell
    September 18, 2006

    Slate and The New Republic will run articles describing reason as being overrated.

    ROFL

    Yeah…all to sadly true.

  8. #8 Fred
    September 19, 2006

    OK Kevin, Clinton let 9/11 happen. Surely you don’t think that in the five minutes Bush was in office he angered Bin Laden so much that he was the cause of 9/11 do you? No, 9/11 happened in response to Clinton. In fact, it was in motion long before Bush even took office.

    OK, here’s my list of what the Republicans have done compared to what Clinton would have done:

    Republicans: Did something (as we have seen).
    Clinton: Would have done nothing (as we saw when he was in office).

    Hey that was pretty easy! I’m sorry, what was your point again? Look, the fact is that you can’t speculate on what would have happened if Bush wasn’t in office and then assume it’s a fact that proves your point. You have no idea what would have happened if Gore was in office. None. You don’t know what he would have done after 9/11 and you don’t know what consequences that may have had. For example, maybe he wouldn’t have attacked Afghanistan; maybe he would have tried peaceful methods, and maybe that would have shown Al Queda that we were too timid for war and they might have felt free to blow up something else here. Who knows? You sure don’t, so spare me you’re “this woudn’t have happened” nonsense.

    By the way, I’m not a Republican, but I find it silly that people seem to think that all of our problems are Bush’s fault and that the world was a wonderland of peace and plenty before he took office. Clinton looks like he did great for the economy but it was just that he happened to be in office during the rise of the internet, which made everything look rosy. But by the time he left it had all crashed. Folks don’t seem to remember the crashing part though, they just remember that the 90′s were great.

    There’s a LOT wrong with this administration but a) there’s a lot wrong with EVERY administration, and b) as sucky and scary as it is, it reflects the majority of the country; specifically with regard to gays, atheists, and the anti-science (in general and evolution specifically) mind-set. Remember though that there are Democrats who are against those things as well, it’s not black & white.

    It’s silly to think that a Democratic president will solve all our problems. Ain’t gonna happen.

  9. #9 gravitybear
    September 19, 2006

    Fred, I don’t think a Dem. pres. would solve all our problems, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. But, the Dems and Reps ARE NOT the same.
    Do you vote? If so, why?
    You are correct in that we can’t know “what if…” Although certainly if Gore had been pres. after 2000, we would not have gone to war in Iraq. That was a dream of the neocons, not the dems. Of course we still would have had other problems, but that doesn’t mean we need to create new ones.

  10. #10 Jude
    September 19, 2006

    I first noticed Gore when he wrote an article about the environment that was published in The New Republic. Back then (maybe in the 80s) I thought, “Wow, a senator who can write.” When he ran for president, to me the choice was obvious–one person had coherent thoughts and to prove it, he could write about them; the other person didn’t even make sense much of the time.

  11. #11 joe c.
    September 19, 2006

    Wow, Jason, that’s a pretty pessimistic outlook not only on the reception to Gore’s book, but by implication, to the elections coming up, too. Certainly, the neocon and Christian right-wing storm troopers still have plenty of firepower, but I think things are improving in the sense of people sort of realizing what their game is, and not buying into it anymore. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I think the tide is turning. Bush and his peeps shit their own bed with Iraq, and their story grows more tiresome every day. The thing I’m afraid of is a Reichstag Fire event here in the states to bolster support for them. I know, that’s pretty paranoid, but I wouldn’t put much past the current administration.

  12. #12 Kevin
    September 19, 2006

    “OK Kevin, Clinton let 9/11 happen. Surely you don’t think that in the five minutes Bush was in office he angered Bin Laden so much that he was the cause of 9/11 do you?”

    Its been said that Ronald Reagan was responsible for the radicalisation of Bin Laden when he had the U.S. warships USS Virginia and USS John Rodgers shell Shiite and Druze positions near Beirut. Because the powder was very old the shelling was very inaccurate and apparently killed some of Bin Laden’s relatives. So that’s why he hated the US so.

    And should that line be:

    Surely you think that in the nine months Bush was in office he ignored all warnings that Bin Laden was plotting 9/11 and instead diverted FBI resources to drug enforcement and copyright protection?

  13. #13 Soren Kongstad
    September 20, 2006

    To Fred:
    “OK Kevin, Clinton let 9/11 happen. Surely you don’t think that in the five minutes Bush was in office he angered Bin Laden so much that he was the cause of 9/11 do you?”

    So Clinton is to blame because he pissed Bin Laden of?

    Is your solution to terrorism to suck up to the terrorists? What should Clinton have done to not make Bin Laden angry?

    Should he have cut spending on anti terror – like Bush did in the nine months prior to 9/11?

    Should he not have issued an order to assasinate Bin Laden?

    Should he not have ordered the drawing of a plan to fight Al Quaida? A plan which was not put in motion by Bush?

  14. #14 CHRISTENSEN
    September 20, 2006

    Just think, if not for Monica, Al Gore would be President.

    No Irag war, probably, and a better economy!

    Thanks, Bill!

  15. #15 somnilista, FCD
    September 20, 2006

    All politicians are equally bad. Oh, I mean: ALL POLITICIANS ARE EQUALLY BAD.

    Sure Fred. Adolph Hitler, Stalin, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson; really, what’s the difference?

    An obvious comparison for this book would be Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science.

  16. #16 Fred
    September 20, 2006

    I’m sorry “somnilista,” I was generalizing. I meant (and this is still generalizing because I can’t get into specifics on the thousands of politicians in the US alone), that all current politicians in the US are equally bad. I’m sorry of the generalizing confuses or offends you. I know you don’t like generalizing. Well, except when the target is Republicans, as is evident in your recommendation of Mooney’s book. (I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on it except to say that it does seem to generalize, as is evident in the title.)

    By the way, for each of the folks you mentioned, yes including Hitler, you would have found, at the time (and even now), quite a large number of people around the world who held the opposite opinion of them than I’m sure you do. Like I pointed out, Lincoln, who’s generally thought of as being a great President and a great man, was so hated by half of the country that they quit this country and formed their own government. To them, the great and wonderful Abe Lincoln was about as well liked as Hitler is today.

    To me it’s not “Republican bad, Democrat good,” it’s person-by-person. They’re all corrupt (OK, to varying degrees, not 100% equal), but some, on each side, have views that I share. And I’m very well aware that those exact views which I share are views that some other people despise. Bush has done some things I like and some things I’m very against. Gore would have done some things I liked and some things I’d have been very much against.

    There’s no black & white here. Drawing a line between Democrat and Republican is childish and stupid. It’s the kind of emotional, irrational thinking that we dislike in people who blindly follow religion.

  17. #17 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 20, 2006

    Fred-

    Don’t label all politicans as equally bad and corrupt, and then turn around and lecture other people about what is childish and stupid.

    The simple fact is that Democrats and Republicans pursue very different policies when they control the reins of government. It seems to me that Democrats generally pursue more sensible policies than Republicans, so I vote for them. Nowadays there’s some real urgency here, since we’ve had six years of complete Republican rule, during which time they have pursued one disastrous policy after another.

  18. #18 Fred
    September 20, 2006

    Corruption scandals hit both sides about equally. Politics doesn’t get the bad rap that it has because everyone *isn’t* corrupt in some way and to some extent. Maybe I’m just too cynical or pessimistic or jaded, but it doesn’t suprise me when *any* politician is caught lying or doing something else wrong, regardless of their political affiliation.

    Perhaps it just comes down to us having differing definitions of “corrupt.” To me, if a politician gives a pothole-fixing job to his cousin’s company even though there’s another company that’s better qualified and cheaper, that’s corrupt. Corruption, to me, isn’t restricted to huge things like war and the reasons for engaging in it.

  19. #19 Steven
    September 21, 2006

    Come on now Jason, there’s been a couple of sensible policies the Republicans have pursued. OK, maybe one (social security privitization). I have voted Republican for a long time because I believed we had a better chance for limited government working through the Republicans. The past six years has shown me that I was wrong. I held out for a long time, but the torture issue was the final straw. From what I have seen, I believe that the Republicans advance the cause of limited government best when they are in the minority. Having the Republicans control both the legislative and executive branches of government has been a disaster for limited government. It would be good for us if we never had this situation again, with either party in control.

    This is certainly not intended to be an endorsement of the Democrats. Democrats don’t seem to care much for limited government, whether they are in the majority or the minority. But, if nothing else, at least they are consistant.

  20. #20 Tyler DiPietro
    September 22, 2006

    I have voted Republican for a long time because I believed we had a better chance for limited government working through the Republicans. The past six years has shown me that I was wrong.

    The “last six years”? How about the last 3/4′s of a decade? The last Republican president to pay more than mere lip-service to the the conservative idea of “limited government” was Calvin Coolidge, whose laissez-faire extremism is regarded by most economists and economic historians as being a crucial factor in ushering in the great depression.

    Of course, this has more to do with the fact that it’s an outmoded, idealistic fantasy that doesn’t work in the real world, than any inherent “corruption” in the Republican Party. Just about all modern, industrialized have adopted Keynsian monetary policy, central banking, and nationalized education, health-care and pension systems. The current crop of latter day Republicans just cherry-pick neoclassical liberal ideas that were abandoned long ago to justify their continued aggrandizement of the already privileged.

  21. #21 Tyler DiPietro
    September 22, 2006

    Sorry, the word “decade” in the above should be “century”, and the word that comes after “industrialized” should be “society”. Forgive my sloppiness.

  22. #22 Steven
    September 22, 2006

    Tyler,

    I note from your web site that you are 20 years old. Hopefully, as your knowledge grows, you can make the connection that, in general, the less government intervention we have in our economy the more freedom and prosperity we enjoy. It disturbs me that so many people seem to be unable to make this connection.

    Your statement that laissez-faire extremism is regarded by most economists as being a crucial factor in ushering in the great depression is simply not true. There is much disagreement between economists about the root cause of the depression and the reason it lasted as long as it did. You could even look in Wikipedia under “Great Depression” and find many different factors that economists think contributed to it.

    You listed “Dispatches From The Culture Wars” and “Positive Liberty” as web sites that, I presume, you visit frequently. I hope you read carefully and understand what these authors have to say regarding the proper role of government in our economy. If you do, I think that you will find they share my sentiments regarding the importance of limited government.

  23. #23 Joshua
    September 22, 2006

    And yet haven’t you yourself established that Democratic politicians generally favour more government, Steven? I would think the average age of Democratic politicians is rather more than 20, so I doubt very much your conclusion that small government as panacaea is something that becomes perfectly obvious with age and experience.

  24. #24 Steven
    September 22, 2006

    Joshua – that wasn’t my conclusion. That small government as panacaea is something that becomes perfectly obvious with age and experience is obviously not true. I should have said “I hope that as your knowledge grows…”

  25. #25 Tyler DiPietro
    September 22, 2006

    Steven,

    Despite the ostensibly polite nature of your post I am quite offended by your condescending tone. Simply because I am young does not mean that I am incapable of reason or studying history.

    Despite what you claim, I am quite familiar with the economic history of this country, and I have read the revisionist history of Jim Powell and other libertarian hacks. Yes, the Jim Powell’s, Milton Friendman’s, Gary Becker’s and others do exist in some significant quantity in academia, but this is due more to combination of the politically charged nature of economics and the great corporate interests involved in perpetuating their economic mythology, than with the empirical merit of their claims.

    You cite wikipedia, and I’ll cite the wikipedia entry on the New Deal. The polling statistics of economists and economic historians on the issues surrounding the new deal linked to in the article do no square very well with your claim that I’m wrong about consensus opinion among such professionals.

    I link to PL and DFTCW because I like their writing, not because I agree with them 100%. And I do read and understand their positions on economics, I just do not agree with them.

    Laissez-faire capitalism is a failed paradigm that has been abandoned by virtually all industrialized nations, including those that still ostensibly support it’s ideals (like us). You can look toward Chile under Pinochet and Argentina under Peron to see examples of what what exactly happens when you enact these policies. It isn’t exactly what I would call “liberty”.

    Please don’t patronize me because of my age, such tactics make you look like an idiot.

  26. #26 Tyler DiPietro
    September 22, 2006

    Oh, and by the way, I never claimed that the LSF extremism of Coolidge was the sola causus of the Great Depression, as you imply. I only said it was a crucial factor in the event, one that a handful of economists and economic historians have attempted to scrap from history to justify a return to laissez-faire.

    Yes, there were more causes (WWI being a crucial factor in it’s instantiation, for instance). But to attempt exculpate the LSFism of Coolidge and his classical liberal antecendants is ahistorical claptrap.

  27. #27 Steven
    September 22, 2006

    Tyler – you’re the one that started this. If you don’t like it when people disagree with you than perhaps you shouldn’t agrue in the first place.

  28. #28 Tyler DiPietro
    September 22, 2006

    Tyler – you’re the one that started this. If you don’t like it when people disagree with you than perhaps you shouldn’t agrue in the first place.

    And this has what, exactly, to do with anything? I don’t give a rats-posterior if you disagree with me, and in fact I welcome it (it’s why I post here). It’s when you patronized me with your “Oh, you’re so young, when you get older and mature you’ll agree with me!” cant that I got rather irritated.

    If you wish to argue over the causes of the great-depression, fine. I will gladly do so. But please, in the process, don’t resort to thinly-vieled ad hominems regarding my age.

  29. #29 Michael "Sotek" Ralston
    September 24, 2006

    Aaah, yes. Clinton would have done nothing … like the nothing he did in the Balkans, right?

    Successes are forgotten immediately, it’s only failures that get remembered.

  30. #30 Fred
    September 24, 2006

    Um yeah, it was through his great viligence and brilliant anti-terror measures that we’ve never had a terrorist attack. He did a fantastic job following up on the Cole bombing and World Trade Center bombing. Nope, no ball dropped there. Thank God he captured and executed Bin Laden before he could do something bigger.

    And if you want to bring the Balkans into it, don’t forget that this action was not approved by the U.N. Don’t you hate when presidents go against the U.N? Or is it only bad when Bush goes against the U.N?

  31. #31 mirc
    December 3, 2008

    And if you want to bring the Balkans into it, don’t forget that this action was not approved by the U.N. Don’t you hate when presidents go against the U.N? Or is it only bad when Bush goes against th