Al Gore may have given one of the finest speeches of his career. It had poetic resonance but was rooted in real science. It was politically visionary but was animated by an, alas, secure sense of climatic disaster. It was quite plain-spoken about the economic realities that made global warming so ordinary but argued the hope that suicidal habits were good for no one, not even the greatest suicidalists, China and, most significantly, the United States. It is my view -but maybe not Al's- that in the end, however, America will be more persuadable than "Peoples' China," whose impetus for domination knows no bounds and courts all kinds of travesties. Your papers will have some of the Gore text. Please read it--you can do so here.
I was wrong in assuming that King Harald V himself would bestow the Nobel honor on the laureate. He sat facing the podium with the Queen and their son and daughter-in-law at his side, separated by a few feet from of the crowd. When His Majesty went up to congratulate the Nobels (there were two, the other being the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. contraption, represented at the Oslo ceremony by Rajendra Pachauri) and the members of the Norwegian parliament who had made the choices, there was no bowing or curtsying. The only special feature to the royals' arriving and leaving was the sounding of trumpets in resonant flourish. So, otherwise, this is a rather plain monarchy, and its plainness may give it its stability. (Frederik, the Crown Prince of Denmark who came to study at Harvard, once told me that shortly before he left for Cambridge his mother, Queen Margarethe II, had warned him against pulling any pranks and calling attention to himself, generally: "We are not as strong as the House of Windsor." But he did ride a motorcycle around Cambridge. Unlike the awkward Prince of Wales, Frederik was both very smart and very funny. The royal houses of both Norway and Denmark were and remain extremely popular, not least for their leading participation in the resistance against the Nazis.)
Anyway, this is not about the royal family but about Gore who seems to have touched the Europeans -I've seen him elsewhere in Europe- like no one since Dwight Eisenhower and, perhaps, further back to FDR. Recall, after all, that the Norwegians are not very demonstrative with their feelings. In fact, they are quite restrained. And the sun comes up late and goes down early, a real bummer, which is ordinarily dealt with by liquor. Yet a constant crowd has been waiting eagerly outside the Hotel Grand (actually not so grand) since I arrived on Sunday. I spoke with some in this crowd -everybody speaks English, really everybody--and one tall blond woman, young, extremely articulate and beautiful, an obvious descendant from the Vikings, answered my query about why she was spending Monday afternoon waiting for a peek at the former Vice President of the U.S. Here's exactly what she said: "You see, when the Supreme Court overruled the Florida court, you had what we are now experiencing in Europe: Brussels overruling the individual nations of Europe. It was robbery, a theft of democracy." It was not exactly the answer I expected. She is no groupie, not at all.
Precisely now, as I write, there is a procession that has arrived outside the hotel, made up mostly of young people carrying torches and some with placards proclaiming "Stop Global Warming." Al is at this moment making an appearance on a hotel balcony, and assembled drums have gone into a frenetic beat. The Nobel Laureate, the almost president of the United States, surely has noticed that there are many signs simply saying, "Thank you."
There are also four men carrying "Ron Paul for President" signs. Doesn't this lonely quad grasp that Paul is not running for office in Norway and that the Norwegian billionaire ship builders and other profiteers from the North Sea prosperity have escaped socialist-style taxes and are now living in London, dubbed "non-domiciled," which is precisely what they are not and which is what makes their capital gains tax-exempt?
It is odd that they showed up for Gore, who, it still seems, will not be running for President. I asked him about his meeting with George Bush last week. He smiled but said nothing. But here's something tantalizing he said almost off-hand towards the end of his speech: "Political will is a renewable resource." Was it a signal? Probably not. But it could be.
Maybe Gore should run in Florida and Michigan, large and representative states (not like the circus caucuses that is the Democratic Party in Iowa), that are cross-section jurisdictions. Florida, after all, is the fourth or fifth most populous state in the Union. Michigan actually has mixed-population cities. The Democratic National Committee has vacuumed them out of the political system: if you run your primaries before Iowa and New Hampshire you won't have delegates.
Well, imagine the