Opinion Brief

Green war: Al Gore vs. Barack Obama

In a scathing Rolling Stone essay, America's most famous climate-change activist slams President Obama. How much will Gore's criticisms hurt?  

Former Vice President Al Gore has launched a "friendly fire" attack on President Obama, criticizing his record on environmental issues in a 7,000-word Rolling Stone article. Admittedly, the president faced some "incredible challenges" when he entered office, Gore says, but despite some achievements with our energy policy, "President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change." Gore acknowledges that his essay could be used by "opponents of the president," and says "it would be self-defeating to weaken Obama and heighten the risk of another step backward." But, he says, "it is time to face reality." Will Gore's attacks hurt Obama? (Watch a PBS discussion about Gore's claims.)

Obama's immune to attack — voters on the Left don't have options: Those who care about the environment "may see little choice in the 2012 election," says Dina Cappiello for the Associated Press. The Republicans now running for the White House "either deny global warming is a man-made problem altogether or say actions to address it would harm the economy." So "the biggest risk" for Obama is that some disaffected "environmental voters may not turn out." But it's not as if they can flock to a candidate who tacks left of the president.
"Gore: Obama lacks 'bold action' on global warming"

This is still "bad news for the White House": To win re-election, Obama needs "to generate more enthusiasm" from his Democratic base, says Darren Samuelsohn at Politico. Gore's essay shows that "the mood... isn't good." Indeed, Gore is "legitimizing a groundswell of grumbling from the Left, and throwing open the door for more of the same."

Actually, this could help Obama... with the Right: The criticisms from "Looney Tune" Gore could actually improve Obama's image with conservatives, says Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), as quoted by Politico. "I’d be surprised if Obama didn’t call him up [and say], 'Please attack me so I’ll look more rational.'"
"Dana Rohrabacher: 'Looney Tunes' Al Gore could help Barack Obama"

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