Run, Al, Run
04.21.2006 11:03 | DISPATCHES
All those people yelling, "Run, Al, Run" wherever you speak? Count me in. I haven't seen it yet, but The Ugly Truth looks great and has clearly broken through--well done. And the Constitution Hall speech was truly awesome.
And, yes, I too have something to expiate: a stupidity.
In November of 1999, I stood in the back of a crowded church as Ralph Nader decried the WTO over chants of "Run, Ralph, Run". I got carried away. I voted for him. (Though safely, from Massachusetts.) I urged others to do so. I made all of those arguments that seem so hard to fathom in 2006. I was wrong.
As you know, there are millions of us out there, each at different stages in the recovery process. Some, like me, were willing to admit years ago that Todd Gitlin was correct to slap "HUBRIS" stickers on Nader's back. Others will puff out their chests and tell you they regret nothing. Frankly, I don't believe them. The fact is no one imagined a situation this FUBAR, even if we should have. As for the Green Party, those losers still can't win San Francisco.
We're all six years older and a whole lot wiser now. More to the point, so are you. You used to be a real stiff, it's true, and all the Letterman appearances in the world weren't going to change that in 2000. But you've changed. You've purged some awful political worm, had an enormous spiritual bowel movement of some kind. You're genuinely likable.
For me, the tipping point came early, way back when you were getting fat, not saying much of anything interesting to anybody, and getting lousy grades from your Columbia J-school students.
It was the beard.
In the context of U.S. politics, as in the context of Grizzly Adams re-runs, the beard signified wilderness. You might as well have been photographed bathing naked in a mountain stream, reading a soggy issue of the Nation.
I think a lot of people can relate to being in the wilderness now, because we're surrounded by so many scary animal noises, including those coming out of the White House. And it's getting dark. I say grow the beard back and wear it proud during the press conference in which you announce your candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States of America.
Most Americans probably never thought they'd vote for a bearded candidate talking about the end of the world in their grandchildren's lifetimes. But most Americans also probably never thought they'd witness a quickening apocalypse while their government ran into walls like a headless Hulk, only to back up and do it again.