Jewish World Review Nov. 9, 1999 /28 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760
Presidential (comic book) character
WHAT IS IT ABOUT running for public office that makes otherwise intelligent
men and women behave like fools? Look at Al Gore.
For going on eight years, he has been the picture of sober rectitude, the
serious, if stiff, second in command who could be counted on to uphold the
dignity of the executive office. While Bill Clinton was cavorting with
interns in the Oval Office, Al Gore was burning the midnight oil in the vice
president's mansion drafting global warming treaties. He might not be
exciting, but he was loyal, dependable and serious, qualities most people
welcome in a political leader. But ever since he decided to run for
president himself, Gore's begun acting -- well, goofy.
Look at his latest antics. Apparently, the handsome Gore doesn't think he
knows how to attract women (voters, that is), so he's hired a woman to
advise him on what he should do to make himself more appealing. Nothing
terribly weird here, I suppose, even though Gore might have turned to his
wife and three daughters for free counsel.
Instead, Gore picked Naomi Wolf, a feminist author, whose books "The Beauty
Myth" and "Promiscuities" would seem unlikely sources of political campaign
advice. And what has Wolf told Gore to do? Become an 'alpha' male. Now,
that's wolf-talk (the species, not the author) for becoming top dog.
It seems Gore has been playing the subservient 'beta' to Bill Clinton's
'alpha' for so long, women voters won't respect him, much less vote for him.
For insights like this, the Gore campaign has been shelling out $15,000 a
month to Wolf until just recently (the sum has now been cut to $5,000 a
month in a belt-tightening effort by Gore's new campaign manager).
Oh, yes, Wolf also told Gore to wear earth tones, browns and greens, to
reassure women. Why, that wisdom alone must have been worth a few thousand
dollars, especially coming from a woman whose previous claim to fame was
decrying the fashion industry as a male-dominated instrument of women's
What could Gore be thinking? The last thing he needs is some wacky feminist
trying to teach him how to be a real man, while keeping in touch with his
earthy, feminine side. If Gore himself didn't realize how ridiculous this
might make him look, someone in the campaign surely did. The campaign hid
Wolf's hefty consulting fees by paying her indirectly through third parties.
Her role only came to light this week through some enterprising
But what does all this say about Gore? His campaign has been faltering for
months, in part because he's tried so hard to re-invent himself. Vice
presidents always have a difficult time emerging from the shadow of the
president they serve. Just ask George Bush, who had a much tougher act to
follow than Al Gore does. But the trick is not to become someone you're not
in order to try to fool the voters into liking you better.
Gore's best hope is to be himself. He's had a remarkably successful career
in politics, despite a somewhat awkward, even pedantic, persona. So, why try
to become someone he's not at this late stage? Gore still has to define the
issues that will shape his campaign.
Voters want to know what his vision for America is, and they want to know
how he will accomplish it. They want to know how it's going to affect their
lives, and what they're going to have to pay for it. They also want to know
if they can trust him. But paying a fortune for dumb advice from
consultants with whom you don't want to be publicly associated is hardly the
way to earn that trust. If Gore really wants to establish his dominance,
he'll fire his consultants, and tell his campaign staff to let Gore be Gore.
It's gotten him this far, and if it can't carry him further, nothing
Linda Chavez Archives
©1999, Creators Syndicate