Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill. The Boston Globe reports on the "push" to draft Al Gore to run for president in 2008 in the April 4th edition of the paper. The story's starry-eyed subjects launching Gore for president websites and sponsoring web petitions are in for the best fluff treatment lending their claims of a "surge" in support for a Gore candidacy far more legitimacy than it deserves.
The sunny representation of these Gore for president campaigns the Globe gives is almost pathetic in it's obvious wishful thinking. The only qualifying language to downplay the efforts used in the piece is an understated "How big is the effort? Hard to say."
No, it's not really that hard to say even when assessing the fluff the Globe reported. In fact, it's pretty easy to say that there is little interest -- at least far from enough interest to show a "surge" in support for a second Gore run for the White House. Far from "heating up" it seems more likely that there is a flaming out in the offing.
The first numbers reported in the piece come from a Gore supporter from California.
"We have 12,000 or so on our signup list," says Monica Friedlander, an Oakland, Calif., communications manager who works regularly on the effort.
12,000 is not much even for a website. There are 300 million or so Americans, after all. And it should also be remembered that a website is visible in other countries, too. So all these 12,000 don't even necessarily represent an all American pool of supporters.
They also quote Mz. Friedlander to say how her website traffic picks up whenever Gore is in the news.
"The traffic picked up tremendously in the weeks before and after the Oscars, and it spiked in a very similar way after his Congressional testimony," says Friedlander.
It is interesting to me that the Globe simply allows this "tremendously" rising web traffic quote as if it is substantive measure of Gore's support. But, not only do we get no stats on this "tremendously" picked up traffic, but it has still only resulted in 12,000 on the signup list!
A paltry sum, indeed.
Next we get what seems to be a large number of signatories on the Gorefan's petition to convince the former veep and current Globaloney guru to run in 2008.
Certainly the petition the group has posted is also attracting more and more signatories. Its message is pithily summed up in the first few lines: "Dear Vice President Gore: Americans from every corner of our nation are calling on you. Please listen to our plea and run for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States in 2008."
"We were at 25,000 sometime in January," Friedlander says. "Now we are at 64,000. We hope in another couple of months to hit 100,000 and hopefully take it to a tipping point where it starts growing fast by itself."
Again, these numbers are tiny when measured against the numbers needed to support a run for the White House.
Of course, this pie in the sky assessment is met with complete agreement by the Globe.
As I've written before, the logic for a comeback by the former vice president is certainly strong. Gore, after all, won the popular vote in 2000. He would be, hands down, the most experienced candidate in the race. He was a strong figure standing against the tide on Iraq, urging against an invasion back in 2002. And, though dissenters certainly remain, a scientific consensus now sees global warming as the serious concern Gore has long insisted it is.
Here we go with that faux "scientific consensus" again. Good thing we don't pick a president by "scientific consensus".
At the end of this sunshine and honey report, the Globe acknowledges that Gore is still saying he is not running for president... but they can hope.
"I take it as a good sign that they are not asking us to stop," says Friedlander. "We are a phone call away. If they didn't want us to do it, we wouldn't do it."
Now why would he ask them to stop? It is still good publicity but Gore knows better than to waste his time with a website that garners only 12,000 fans! 12,000 votes wouldn't even get him the support that Ralph Nader had in the 2000 election when he came in with a distant third place finish in the final tally!
All in all, this piece is all hat and no cattle, as the saying goes.... or maybe all hot air but no global warming would be a better line?
Nice try, Boston Globe.