Gore's sojourn this week through the circus mirrors of medialand has been a strange trip, indeed. First he went on Good Morning America, where he gave a long synopsis of his new book, The Assault on Reason, arguing that the way news networks have trivialized the news has crippled the voters' ability to oversee a functioning democracy because, duh, they're perpetually uninformed and misinformed about "the big issues"... and then all Diane Sawyer could talk about was whether Al was going to run. She even asked him if he's dropped any weight yet. Classy!
Then Jack Shafer of Slate fame botches his hit job on the book by construing Gore's argument as Gore is against the news talking about anything but politics. The tenor of his article, the surprising and unprofessional bitterness of his sarcasm, in my opinion gives away the fact that he's a lot more interested in mauling Gore than addressing his argument on the merits, which explains what just has to be willful obtuseness to the former vice president's simple and painfully obvious point.
As Upton Sinclair once said, "It is difficult to get people to understand something when their salary depends upon them not understanding it."
As more proof that he's (willfully or otherwise) totally blind to Gore's point, he approvingly cites Maureen Dowd's recent column on Gore. Digby provides the necessary context and perspective to why that was such a telling choice of articles for him to cite, but suffice it to say, if MoDo's columns had any less substance in them, they'd float off the page and into the stratosphere, where all the hot air in them would undoubtedly contribute to global warming. A sample of the "journalism" Shafer points you to so that you can be informed on Gore's argument:
t’s no wonder Al Gore is a little touchy about his weight, what with everyone trying to read his fat cells like tea leaves to see if he’s going to run.
He was so determined to make his new book look weighty, in the this-treatise-belongs-on-the-shelf-between-Plato-and-Cato sense, rather than the double-chin-isn’t-quite-gone-yet sense, that he did something practically unheard of for a politician: He didn’t plaster his picture on the front.
“The Assault on Reason” looks more like the Beatles’ White Album than a screed against the tinny Texan who didn’t get as many votes in 2000.
The Goracle does concede a small author’s picture on the inside back flap, a chiseled profile that screams Profile in Courage and that also screams Really Old Picture. Indeed, if you read the small print next to the wallet-sized photo of Thin Gore looking out prophetically into the distance, it says it’s from his White House years.
Diane was not so easily put off as he turned up his nose at the horse race and the vast wasteland of TV, and bored in for the big question: “Donna Brazile, your former campaign manager, has said, ‘If he drops 25 to 30 pounds, he’s running.’ Lost any weight?”
Laughing obligingly, he replied: “I think, you know, millions of Americans are in the same struggle I am on that one. But look, listen to your questions. And you know, if the horse race, the cosmetic parts of this — and look, that’s all understandable and natural. But while we’re focused on, you know, Britney and KFed and Anna Nicole Smith and all this stuff, meanwhile, very quietly, our country has been making some very serious mistakes that could be avoided if we the people, including the news media, are involved in a full and vigorous discussion of what our choices are.”
Mr. Traub said that, as he followed the ex-vice president around, the Goracle was “eating like a maniac: I watched him inhale the clam dip at a reception like a man who doesn’t know when his next meal will be coming.”
Doug Brinkley, the presidential historian, said that even though the fashion now is for fit candidates, after the Civil War, there was a series of overweight presidents. “It showed you had a zest for life,” he said. (The excess baggage may make Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson look roguish, but unfortunately, too many cheeseburgers and ice cream sundaes make Mr. Gore look puffy and waxy.) “Maybe,” Mr. Brinkley suggested, “Gore can sit in Tennessee and do it via high-definition satellite — like McKinley, just eat and sit."
To borrow a line from Chandler Bing, I can't decide if Dowd is more funny "ha ha" or funny "KABOOOOOOM!!!! *brains splatter on floor*"