If in 2000 Al Gore had mustered the courage to give the speech he gave the other night at the Los Angeles HRC dinner he might be president today. Instead of the wishy-washy yes-on-civil-unions-but-no-to-gay-marriage position he took during the campaign, he finally came down squarely on the side of human rights. Better late than never I suppose.
Unfortunately, Al hasn't learned a thing about delivery. He was as wooden and meandering behind the mike as ever. The AV team did an admirable job of keeping the audio level adjusted as he wandered this way and that behind the podium. These are style-over-substance issues that matter a whole lot more than they ought to. I can't help but think that poor Al has been a couple of acting lessons away from the White House for the last ten years.
Still, having the truth on your side goes a long way towards making up for a lack of charisma. It has always been blatantly obvious to me that those who would deny human rights to gays are on the wrong side of history, and Al Gore finally seems to have come to this realization. (I don't know, maybe he always knew this, and his position in 2000 was just a political calculation rather than a reflection of what was in his heart of hearts. Either way, it's a hard position to respect, and I think it cost him the presidency.)
Imagine a charismatic Al Gore championing gay rights not because he's a liberal but because he's a Christian, pointing out that laws forbidding interracial marriage were on the books in a number of states until the Supreme Court struck them down in 1967, that this is today a national embarrassment. Imagine a fired-up Al Gore saying that fifty years from now people will look back with similar shame at the day when we as a society denied certain people the right to legally commit their lives to their country and the people they loved. Imagine Al Gore extemporizing [gasp!] "Good grief, all you're asking for is monogamy and military service! Is that too much to ask?" That Al Gore was at the Century Plaza last Saturday.
I just wish this Al Gore had surfaced six years ago. The world would be a better place.