Al Gore has spent the last week stubbornly swatting away questions about his presidential plans while promoting his new book The Assault on Reason. The book is interesting, not just for its discussion about the trivialisation of public discourse in politics and media, but also for its references to Nicole, Paris and Lohan. Here’s a taste:
It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hoped it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half of the American public still believes Saddam was connected to the attack.
At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just an unfortunate excess — an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time: the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy, Britney and KFed, Lindsay and Paris and Nicole.
While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness.
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In what’s being touted as a perfect illustration of Gore’s argument, here’s a clip of his recent appearance on Good Morning America.
Watch as Diane Sawyer asks Gore three times about his presidential aspirations, including one meaty question that hinged his future plans on his diet and weight, eventually prompting this from Gore:
Listen to your questions. You know, the horserace, the cosmetic parts of this — and, look, that’s all understandable and natural. But while we’re focused on, you know, Britney and K-Fed and Anna Nicole Smith and all this stuff, meanwhile, very quietly, our country has been making some very serious mistakes that could be avoided if we, the people, including the news media, are involved in a full and vigorous discussion of what our choices are.
Of course, this could be a clever way for Gore to campaign without actually campaigning, using valuable sound bites to take the moral high ground (while differentiating himself from his rival Democrats), but try not to be too cynical. Instead, just enjoy watching the word ‘KFed’ come out of the former Vice President’s mouth.