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Jewish World Review Dec. 18, 2002 / 13 Teves, 5763

Seth Gitell

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No Gore 2004: Follow the Money | Everybody seems to be missing the point about Vice President Al Gore's decision not to run for president. Anna Quindlen was on with Don Imus giving Gore credit for making a relatively courageous decision.

Others, such as Opinion Journal's James Taranto suggested Gore's decision represented a degree of self-awareness.

My take is simple. Gore couldn't raise the money he needed to run the kind of presidential campaign he'd want to run. Gore's no Ralph Nader or Howard Dean, both of whom can mount campaigns off of fumes. Gore needs money.

With Massachusetts Senator John Kerry already having raised more than $3 million and with former Democratic National Committee chairman Steve Grossman backing Howard Dean, along with New York Senator Hillary Clinton's signals that she wouldn't support Gore, it should have been obvious: Gore couldn't fund his campaign.

What does this say about our money-laden political system? This time it worked. For as much as we all lament and rail against the presence of money in politics, here's a case where money helped a potential candidate make a decision he should have been able to make on his own.

For weeks, since mid-November, Gore has been on a massive publicity campaign, even appearing on Comedy Central's The Daily Show and NBC's Saturday Night Live. Throughout the tour, Gore failed to catch on. His performance reminded me of the ghost of Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Despite Gore's better than expected performance - refusing to leave the West Wing's Oval Office in a skit with Martin Sheen - Gore's campaign wasn't going anywhere. It took the hard reality of donors giving Gore the cold shoulder to make him see this.

Let's call it a case of the right thing happening for the wrong reasons. Money is the dominant force in presidential politics, and sometimes it influences candidates for the better.

JWR contributor Seth Gitell is the political writer of the Boston Phoenix Comment by clicking here.

12/06/02: Gore, like Dicken's Jacob Marley, Dead as a Door-nail
10/24/02: War with Iraq may not happen, after all
10/22/02: Winning European hearts and minds
10/18/02: Lieberman makes 'em laugh --- on purpose
10/04/02: Hawking an interpretation (in which Scott Ritter tells our columnist to 'go to H-LL!')
09/13/02: Bush Challenge to U.N. Members: Are You Better than League of Nations?
09/06/02: Iraq attack: Ritter's reversal
08/30/02: Stick with comedy, Jon Stewart
08/16/02: Green around the gills: Nader Effect could cost the Dems the election in three states
08/01/02: Gore's low profile is no accident
07/31/02: President Hillary? Despite her denials, candidacy is not that unlikely
07/26/02: On the road with John Kerry
07/17/02: Meet the 'Clinton' of the 2004 New Hampshire primary
07/12/02: Ancient rivalry: Williams vs. DiMaggio
07/10/02: Warrior spirit
05/08/02: Hosting a TV show will keep Clinton off the streets
04/26/02: Truth in advertising in SaudiLand --- and ours
02/28/02: Time for hipsters to do a reality-check

© 2002, Seth Gitell