Jun 8, 2007
Enthusiasm is building for former Vice-President Al Gore to enter the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and there was plenty of that enthusiasm at a panel discussion of Gore’s latest book – “Assault on Reason” – on Thursday put together by mid-Michigan draft Al Gore proponents at Schuler Books in Okemos.
The panel, consisting of Beryl Schwartz, editor and publisher of the Lansing City Pulse; Tracy Dobson, a professor at Michigan State University’s Fisheries and Wildlife Department; and Doug Kelley, the retired director of Extension and Continuing Education at the University of Michigan in Flint.
The panel had differing opinions on latest book. Schwartz said he was disappointed the book had no new ideas from Gore, but he said it served as a good reference for all of Gore’s previous positions and good ideas.
“This book, to a large extent represents, both what is good and bad about Al Gore,” he said. “He is brilliant, but as a campaigner he is a little wooden.”
Kelley disagreed with that assessment, and he said Gore’s positions are what the former U.S. Senator and Vice-President are passionate about.
“I found this a very passionate book,” he said. “He says George Bush violated the law – not that that he just lied to people – that he violated the law for the past six years.”
Dobson said there were good and bad things in the book, but she really enjoyed Gore’s take on the history of democracy and communications in the United States.
“TV has done more to damage our democracy than anything else,” she said. “Political debate has been diluted down to 30 second advocacy spots.”
The talk naturally drifted away from the book to politics and other subjects, and the panelists also talked about their personal experiences with Gore. Schwartz said he first met Gore in the early ‘80s when Gore was a Senator and Schwartz was a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C. Schwartz was offered a job as publisher of the Knoxville News Sentential in Gore’s home state, and shortly after that he accepted the job got a call from “Al’ – a former reporter himself - inviting him to lunch.
“We had a lot to talk about,” he said “He has a great sense of humor.”
Schwartz said even then he was developing a respect for Gore, but that respect was cemented when Gore appeared at a journalism panel celebrating the newspaper’s 100th anniversary that Gore had to fly to from a conference in Bermuda and back just to be there because he had made a promise to Schwartz to attend.
“I think there are a lot of people from liberals to conservatives who wish he was president today,” he said. “We would be better off today, but this book will not get him there.”
Kelley, very active in the Washtenaw Democratic Party, said he saw Gore at all six of his Michigan appearances, and he was one of the 1,000 presenters Gore personally trained last year in Nashville to present the slide show based on Gore’s Academy Award winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Kelley said he saw a man that was far from wooden and lacking in emotions, and he saw a man who cared about people and was at ease with people from al walks of life.
Kelley has one of the largest collections of Democratic Presidential campaign memorabilia in a garage-like structure at his Ann Arbor home he calls the “archive” that he welcomes people to visit. Kelley once worked as an aide to late Democratic U. S. Senator Phil Hart, and he compares Gore favorably to Hart. Hart was a former Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, and he served in the Senate from 1959 until his untimely death in office in 1976. The Senator Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. is named for him.
“He (Hart) was as close to a saint as a politician can get,” Kelley said. “Al Gore has some of those same qualities.”
Bob Alexander, a former Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in the 8th Congressional District, is one of the organizers of the mid-Michigan Draft Al Gore movement. The group meets every month at 7 p.m. at the Gone Wired Cafe, 2021 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.
For more information contract Alexander at Alexjuliea@aol.com.