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.