GORE'S OBSTACLE. Media Matters has a good response to Richard Cohen, who blames nameless "colleagues" for the interminable media smear campaign against Al Gore in 1999 and 2000, while conveniently forgetting his own frequent participation in said campaign. This does remind us of a point indirectly raised by Ed Kilgore. Not only is Gore exceptionally well-qualified for the office, he's somebody who can generate support in the Democratic Party from the netroots to Marty Peretz -- one would think that this would be a compelling reason for him to run. But even among people (like me) who would unquestionably be Gore supporters if he joined the race, there has to be serious concern about whether we'd be in for 18 months of Love Canal and Earth Tones and I Invented The Internet and God knows what other crap people would invent out of whole cloth. It is possible that the countless foreign and domestic policy disasters of the Bush administration may convince some people in the media that presidential election campaigns should be judged by different standards than elections for treasurer of a junior high school Jessica Simpson fan club. There's a possibility that the beat reporters covering him, at least, would be more professional and responsible than Ceci Connolly and Kit Seelye, if only on the grounds that standards have pretty much nowhere to go but up. But, still, a lot of the damage has already been done, and the fact that Maureen Dowd -- who culminated her attempt to recycle (and sometimes invent herself) every asinine anti-Gore pseudo-scandal in the book with an idiotic multi-part series imagining a conversation between Gore and his bald spot -- is still inexplicably cashing paychecks from West 43rd Street isn't a good sign. My guess is still that Gore won't run, and while I can say that's regrettable, what's even worse is that I can't say it's unwise.

--Scott Lemieux

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