The Al Gore caucus?

Salena Zito

3/30/2008 12:00:35 AM - Salena Zito

In a campaign year full of Lazarus moments, one rebirth that American voters will not see is the second coming of Al Gore. Not as the reluctant candidate on a white horse, saving the day at the Democrats' convention in August. Probably not as a peace-maker between the two candidates beforehand, despite his Nobel Peace Prize.

Some Democrats, mostly the strategy and the establishment classes, are getting nervous about the length and breadth of this primary season.

Fair enough: It is ugly out there on the campaign trail. Yet, right now, this contest is in the hands of voters.

Voters, not superdelegates or back-room deals, have kept Hillary Clinton in the game. Going into Texas and Ohio, everyone was told before they cast their votes that Clinton was done. Now in Pennsylvania, pundits are uttering the same lines -- no conceivable way she wins; her unwillingness to leave is an act of desperation -- yet she leads comfortably in the Keystone State.

Clinton can still argue that she has a legitimate reason to stay in the race: voters.

Barack Obama can argue that he should be the only one standing because he holds the trump card: delegates.

This is the moment when a party elder is supposed to step in and bring sanity to the struggle. In any other year, that would be Bill Clinton, but we all know why that won't work. Jimmy Carter has never embraced that type of role. So what about Al?

His former campaign manager, Donna Brazile, says not now, too "premature for him to inject himself into the presidential fray."

And she is probably right. That, plus the rumored bad blood between Gore and the Clintons, could easily have the Clintons calling "Foul!" if he decided to exercise his peace-prize-winning skills.

Another scenario to consider is an Al Gore caucus. It is brilliant, really: Lock Gore and the nearly 800 superdelegates in some "green" fire hall with a Ryder truck full of pizza and soda, and don't let them out till the deed is done. Problem solved.

Caucuses are a beautiful thing, full of horse-trading, bossy precinct captains, and lots of animated opinions. This exercise in democracy just might make the Democratic Party a more perfect union, when all was said and done.

Despite the fight between Obama and Clinton, Democrats are in a strong position to take the White House. What they cannot afford is months and months of charge and countercharge while John McCain becomes the statesman and looks presidential.

If that continues, they will have a very truncated general election -- and that would be a disaster for Democrats.

It is hard to know if Gore would help caucus this contest if the need arrives; right now, he is into being a citizen of the world, not a party politician.

If he were a real party politician, Gore of all people would be an advocate for counting Florida's votes and seating its delegates -- Michigan's, too, but most especially Florida's.

After all, who can forget what happened with him in the Sunshine State?