Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Broken Clock That Isn't Right Even Twice A Day

Former President Bill Clinton convinced world and business leaders to commit more than $1.25 billion to address major global problems, ranging from poverty to clean energy.

The three-day event, which coincided with a world summit at the United Nations, included a series of workshops on topics including religious conflict, poverty and the environment.

At a Saturday session, former Vice President Al Gore said Hurricane Katrina should serve as a warning that the world must not ignore the consequences of global warming. "We face a global emergency, a deepening climate crisis that requires us to act," Gore said.

Scientists are split over whether a man-made change in world climate is fueling stronger storms.

At least one recent study suggested that a rise in the surface temperature of tropical seas may be responsible for an increase in the severity of hurricanes. But many say the temperature rise is a natural environmental cycle.

The price of admission was $15,000, and participants were required to commit to some sort of action to help solve a major global problem. If they don't follow through, they won't be invited back to what organizers intend to make an annual event.

One could safely assume, after being subjected to the ravings of the Inventor of The Internet, Mr. No Controlling Legal Authority Himself, The Protean: Wonk Gore, Alpha-Male Al, Maul My Wife Randy Al, The Bearded Philosopher, and, to go back to his days in the House and Senate, Pro-Life Al and N.R.A. Al, (Christ, this guy has reinvented himself more often than Madonna), that most attendees at this year's conference would happily pay $15,000 to get out of attending next year.

Although I am obviously not a fan of the Clintons, who are really the Tom and Daisy Buchanan of the Democrat party, (They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. --The Great Gatsby) I respect that Clinton is making an effort to do something to make, in his conception, the world a better place. (Sure he has an agenda. This is, after all, the most solipsistic politician in memory but his motives shouldn't negate the good he may do.)

Gore, for his part, has become a parody of himself which is quite an accomplishment. Instead of pulling a Nixon, who famously worked very hard behind the scenes for Republican candidates from 1962 to 1968, creating debts of gratitude and getting to know local representatives and county party leaders that would ultimately lead him back to the White House, Gore has just gone off the rails. He must have given up on his life-long ambition to become president and the bitterness he feels is evident in his increasingly shrill and irresponsible rhetoric.

I am surprised that Gore attended the conference; there have been rumors of a strain in the Clinton-Gore relationship dating back to the campaign of 2000. It would have been interesting, however, to see them together again, such a contrast in style. One man the most adept political figure of his generation, basking in the glow of post-presidential encomia; the other, less Cassandra than Chicken Little, still trying to escape the shadow of his more successful political sibling.


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