Feature

The Gore split: What went wrong?

The former vice president and his wife are separating after 40 years of marriage. For some Washington insiders, however, the news is not a shock

After 40 years of marriage, the former vice president turned environmental guru and his wife Tipper are splitting. The Gores were a formidable duo during the 1990s, and were rarely coy about their romantic feelings for each other: Few can forget their passionate onstage smooch at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. (Watch a CBS report about the Gores split.) While the unexpected announcement came as a shock to some, D.C. insiders say it's not a particular surprise:

Opposites who attracted... and now don't: Al and Tipper were "an odd couple from the start," says Howard Fineman at Newsweek. Gore, the "princely" son of a senator, is a thinker and born politician; his wife a "fun-loving' local girl who was always "unsettled in the role of the Good Wife." Their conflicts were ingrained: "Pure, driven ambition versus another day at the beach; a need to internalize and intellectualize versus the drummer in the band." After 40 years of trying but failing to bridge those inherent divides, it's no surprise their "quirky, unstable" union is now at an end."The odd couple finally splits up"

Compared to the Clintons, the Gores seemed soothingly untroubled: I didn't see this coming, says Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washingtonian. Not only was the Gores' a "famous love story," but their marriage was a "refuge from the tumult and confusion of the First Couple's troubled union" during the Clinton era. Their union seemed "solid, connected, and confident" to those of us in the Washington bubble. "That very settledness, that lack of drama, seemed uniquely valuable at a time when the worst humiliations of a bad marriage were playing out in agonizing public detail." Maybe that's why we greeted this news with not just a "sense of shock, but of genuine sadness.""Smitten no more"

Unpredictable, and finally unexplainable: "What on earth happened," asks Belinda Luscombe at Time. This "out-of-nowhere" announcement is a real "head scratcher." After 40 years together, surely you're in it for life? But maybe now the Gores have "no big projects on their plate, no shared obstacle to overcome [and] no common enemy," they have no reason to stay together. Or perhaps they just got sick of each other? In the end, we might never know. "Each marriage is always a mini-mystery." "The Gore breakup: Why, after all these years?"

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