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Al Gore Continues

photo: vice president al gore

Al Gore, bracketed by 12 flags.

Six Months' Non-Candidacy

by Ric Erickson

New York:- Thursday, 7. August:- It is about 9:30 in the morning in a subway car stopped between stations in mid-deep Queens somewhat short of Manhattan. The cackle of the train driver seems to be saying that there is a 'switch problem.' We may need to give up our good seats and switch to another train.

But what is more annoying is perhaps being too late to get our invitation-only seats at New York University, to hear Al Gore, former US Vice-President, make some comments about the geopolitical situation in the White House.

This event, for which I attempted but failed to rise at 7:00, is organized by a group called MoveOn.Org. It is pretty upset by the geopolitical situation in the White House, so they are hosting Al Gore today, and since getting up early costs little, your 'Internet Reporter for Paris' is going to cover the meeting - if the subway can get its act in gear, or switches.

Finally, we are offered a substitute subway train. The heat on the underground platform between the dud and the new is about the same as outside temperatures in Paris these days. Boiling. The 'new' train, full of passengers, has air-conditioning that cannot... quite... keep... up. The ride to NYU opposite Washington Square is not a short one. The subway station there would be condemned even by lobster lovers.

Amazingly, although late, we have arrived in fine time. The line of political activitists and the curious that we join goes all the way around the corner, but it moves forward fast. Names are verified by first initials and against, in my case, my passport, and checked off the list, and then the run through security is a hop, skip and sidestep.

The well-arranged auditorium - it has comfortable chairs, it is well-lit, but best ofphoto: cafe french roast all - the TV-news guys are in their own ghetto on a platform at the back of the room instead of mobbing the stage. On time means the auditorium is still a third empty. On time means only an hour to wait for the main event, stalled subway train notwithstanding.

A man with black and white shoes, black pants, black t-shirt, with a black homburg and a fresh-farm products bag takes the chair beside mine. He arranges himself, slips off his shoes and hat, and begins to hum. After a bit he puts his hat back on, then slides his chair further forward and resumes humming.

I decide to write a note - about something else. I reach for the notepad in the bag and a pen from my side pocket. The 'hummer' stops and says that I 'touched him.' He says he doesn't like to be touched. Neither do I, so I wonder why he moved his seat forward so it would be impossible not to touch him while getting a pen out of my pocket. "Don't touch me again," he says.

Totally insincerely, I assure him I will 'try not' to touch him in the future. He resumes pretending to meditate in a hall with 400 other people. I wonder if the organizers know some members of the audience are a bit unhinged.

Just after 11:00 the brief introductions begin and then the two-term former Vice-President takes over the speaker's thingee and talks about the geopolitical situation in the White House for 50 minutes. He uses phrases like 'totalistic ideology' and policies based on 'mythologies' and the crowd leaps up, applauding, with some scattered cheering.

A mention of a 'lazy Congress' - or 'passive' - gets a reaction too, as does a swipe at the Attoney General and the Minister of War. I can see only one suit in the audience, so I suppose that the audience is most probably partisan, maybe even biased against the geopolitical situation in the White House.

Al Gore said he is not a candidate last December, and he says it again. He also says he will support the Democratic Party's candidate, if whomever of the nine currently in the race, is not himself.

Directly addressing the problems of the financial and geopolitical situation in the White House, he said, "I've just about concluded that the real problem may be the President himself and that next year we ought to fire him and get a new one."

He frankly admits to being jobless himself, without mentioning the Apple Computer Company once, and expresses sympathy with others in the same situtation, even if they had won the popular vote too. These two statements also draw warm appreciation.

Mr. Gore stuck pretty closely to his prepared speech, which he delivered in English with a slight Tennessean accent. His 'tryout' speech in New York came a day after filmstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, with an Austrian accent, threw himself into the ring as a candidate for Governor of California - if voters there throw out the Governor they elected.

Mr. Gore's story led Mr. Schwarzenegger's story during early afternoon edition of NBC-TVphoto: bakery zito news. At the NYU meeting there were about 600 in the audience, with some stashed in overflow rooms, and the somewhat minor 'news' event was covered by some 100 other domestic, national and foreign journalists.

Upon leaving the meeting I discovered that morning 'fog' was continuing into the afternoon, trapping stale air close to the ground in the area of Greenwich Village. But finding an espresso joint soon afterwards quickly fixed the acute café-jolt situation.

After that I had little difficulty in going around a block somewhere around 6th Avenue and Christopher Street four different ways without repeating many of them, while managing to acquire fish, cheese, olives and other edible knicknacks.

Political non-news, even if important but irrelevant to Paris, can sure build up a fierce appetite.

Text and photos, Ric Erickson © 2003
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