Oil Soars, Fires Rage, War Looms, Hillary Maneuvers, Gore Surges in CBS Poll

Breaking news: In the latest CBS poll Al Gore is surging and if he were in the race, he stands alone in second place: Hillary 37, Gore 32, Obama 17.

Meanwhile, Gore is ahead and may win with a write-in vote the major grassroots poll by Democracy for America, found at democracyforamerica.com.

The stage is set. While the winds of war blow towards Tehran from a president who speaks of World War III, Hillary maneuvers wildly to explain her vote for the Lieberman-Kyl Iran resolution, while her oppo people dish the dirt that Obama voted for a similar resolution himself.

All of which makes the case for Gore.

In purely political terms, Barack Obama is a brilliant, inspiring public figure who may well have a presidential future, but his campaign has fallen far behind a front-runner who acts as though she takes the nomination for granted and moves farther to the right.

My take is, voters do not believe Obama, with his tremendous virtues, is ready for the brutally negative attack the Republicans will launch. Nor is he ready to be commander in chief in a very dangerous world with a Republican president who makes it more dangerous every day, and Republican candidates trying to appeal to their rabid rightist base by fomenting war hysteria.

A Gore-Obama ticket could well sweep the nation and inspire the world, while inspiring the Democratic Party to far more courage and principle than it has shown at any time during the Bush years.

While Hillary and Barack attack each other for Iran votes that play into the Bush politics of fear, Al Gore stands hard as a rock and tall as an oak as the most powerful voice for the loyal opposition.

Gore's appeal is not merely his experience as vice president, congressman, senator and Nobel Laureate but the larger truth that he is a champion of a sweeping worldview and a fearless opponent of Bush wrongs at a time
when throughout the nation, Democrats and independents believe their Washington-based leaders have been timid, fearful and ineffective.

Hillary is not part of the solution, she remains part of the problem, having supported the Iraq resolution in 2002, supported the Iraq war from 2002 through 2006, and supported the Lieberman Iran resolution barely hours ago.

It is fair to ask: If Hillary moves this far to the right supporting the Lieberman resolution after having supported the Iraq war from 2002 to 2006 even before a nomination, how far right does she go in a general election campaign, how credible will this be to the nation, and what will she do as president?

It is accurate to point out that Democrats have done far better the stronger they have been clearly opposing the Bush policies and clearly offering alternatives. From 2002 to 2004 to 2006 Democrats clearly did better running the kind of strong campaigns Gore believes in, and did worse running the kind of weak and maneuvering campaigns that Hillary stands for.

Even more profoundly, Gore understands that an oil-based economy creates hardship against New Hampshirites through price-gouging of gasoline and home heating oil, while creating the pollution that threatens the planet and the pressures for war that engulf the Middle East.

Eisenhower warned us about George W. Bush and what Ike called the military-industrial complex. That complex has now metastasized into the military-industry-oil-war profiteering complex that is promoted with a politics of fear and powered by a drive to stifle debate, intimidate dissenters and put core personal freedoms under attack in ways comparable to what happened in the era of Joe McCarthy.

These matters are all inter-related: Oil prices drive relentlessly towards $100 a barrel while pressures for war mount throughout the Middle East. Oil companies reap gigantic profits while wounded troops receive substandard support, Washington cannot find money for healthcare for little children, and New Hampshirites will be punished by high heating costs as the cold winter arrives.

How ironic: Fires rage through California while only a Republican candidate, John McCain, mentions that global warming might contribute to the extreme drought that foments the fires. How radical, that a European think tank now suggests we may have reached "peak oil" supplies that could foment even more war and instability, while not one Democrat, not Hillary, not Obama, not any of them, has raised the banner of global warming and the need for an Apollo-like alternative energy program in the manner Al Gore has.

Even when Gore prepares to accept the Nobel Prize for Peace, the Democratic candidates treat these issues as talking points for politics, not the fundamental global and patriotic mission that Al Gore challenges America to undertake.

Nor is this a coincidence: Congress fails to effectively challenge Bush on Iraq; Democrats, including the front-runner, vote for an Iran resolution offered by Joe Lieberman and promoted by advocates for war; and the
Democrats in Congress, who surrendered on civil liberties last August, now discuss whether to grant retroactive legalization to what could be mass violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The truth is, the front-runner lacks the core convictions and political courage to stand foursquare against these wrongs. The main challenger lacks the stature and strength to take this fight to the country, Americans throughout the nation disapprove of the politics of fear of Bush and the fearful reaction of many Democrats, and Al Gore's strength in the CBS poll suggests he stands where Democrats want to be.