But it's a Catch-22: the Gore on display in Assault -- and during much of the press he's done in support of it -- is extremely compelling: bold, passionate, knowledgeable, thoughtful, articulate, self-deprecating. Exactly the qualities that have so many Democrats eying him with nothing short of lip-smacking longing.
So far, much of Gore's book tour has been drenched in irony, with his castigation of the mainstream media's fixation on the horserace aspects of politics being met with horserace questions, while his rebuke of our cultural obsession with nonsense like Britney's hair, Lindsay's sex life, and Nicole's weight has been met with stories obsessing about his weight, his double chin, and his love of clam dip.
Was it ever thus, or is all of this new?
I suspect JFK was elected, at least in part, on his looks (and/or Nixon defeated on his jowls, stubble and sweat), and their great debate was far from Lincoln-Douglas. When was the last time a Presidential election was decided on the basis of meaty, substantive debate on the major issues facing the country? One might argue Reagan- Carter, although saying that gives me hives.
I am inclined to think the nature of media coverage has changed things. Newsmen used to at least pretend everyone cared about "the issues"; that is now the exception rather than the rule, and so many of the punditocracy and reporters are bubbleheads.