Okay, time to say it: Who’s the big winner in all this? The Democrats? Way too general. It’s Al Gore.
Consider just a few of the many reasons …
1. The first is the simplest. The 2000 election and a possible 2004 rematch are zero-sum games. What hurts Bush helps Gore. This hurts Bush so it helps Gore.
2. Gore ran on a people versus the powerful, anti-corporate-wrong-doing message. That sounds pretty good right now. And it would give Gore a strong ‘I told you so’ theme to go along with attacks on the various other ways Bush has run the country into the ditch. But wait, you say! Shrum just told him to say that. He never really believed any of that populist stuff. Well, I never really bought into that cynical read. But say you’re right. Who cares? He still said it.
3. In 2000 no one doubted that Al Gore was experienced and competent. But it almost ended up being a liability. People just never warmed to him. And they liked George W. Bush. Right now, who you’d rather hang with at the barbecue just doesn’t seem quite as important. Competence and experience does.
And if you thought the people who invested in stocks lost their shirt, just talk to the folks who put their money on the Bush team’s rep for competence.