Why try to be president when you already rule the world?
This time, the exit polls were right: The Nobel Peace Prize earns its place on Al Gore's crowded mantle, alongside the Oscar, the Emmy, the Presidents' Trophy (best regular-season record, 2000), and -- of course -- the lockbox and the Internet. And so the remarkable rehabilitation/vindication/celebration of Albert Arnold Gore Jr. is complete.
But the speculation (round 219) has only just begun. The ragtag "Draft Gore" folks know nothing if not timing, and this is their last best chance. They don't seem to care that Gore has shown approximately zero interest in running for president again -- and that the smart money says he's too happy with his life to jump back into dirty politics, that he doesn't need it now like he once did.
Gore remains the single individual with the most power to shake up the Democratic race for president. He is a vessel for the hopes and aspirations of countless dispirited Democrats who still think the presidency was rightfully his, who have grown more frustrated with every passing year of the Bush presidency, and who love the storyline of a triumphant return.
And (though the disaffection with the candidates is nowhere near what it is on the Republican side) the interest in Gore speaks to lingering concerns about the Democrats who are actually running -- particularly frontrunner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
"Gore's 2007 has been a breezy stroll down the red carpet, and a near endless loop of will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a potential second run for the White House," ABC's Nitya Venkataraman writes. "For the former vice president's legion of grassroots supporters, the suspense has been agony as they wait for the 'Gore-acle' to divine, what they deem to be, an infallible political future."
The peace prize, she writes, "could provide the most 'climatic' and climactic opportunity to date for the Democratic presidential nominee of 2000 to announce White House intentions for 2008."
"The Nobel is a vindication that could impact the upcoming presidential race: Gore's supporters have repeatedly urged him to enter the race, and the luster of the peace prize may add to that push," Howard Schneider and Debbi Wilgoren write on The Washington Post's Website. "But the former vice president, whose background includes a Harvard education and deep roots in Tennessee politics, has seemed disinclined to enter the fray. He has focused more on undertakings like last summer's 'Live Earth' concerts."
Gore confidantes aren't optimistic. Former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile tells The Note, "I don't know if this will re-shape him or allow him to move back gracefully into politics. I believe Gore wants to be above the fray and not back in the middle." But, Brazile said, he can wield his enhanced power with an endorsement (one he hopes turns out better than his support of Howard Dean, of course: "With the Nobel Prize now his to claim, Gore can play kingmaker and help the Dems win the White House in 2008."
The other candidates say they're quite thrilled with Gore's victory, but how long would those sentiments last if he made noises about getting in the race? Or if (and when) he makes an endorsement? (And we're sure Howard Wolfson is concocting some plan to get Sen. Clinton to win "American Idol" -- the domestic Nobel.)