I expect we'll soon see Al Gore naked.
I expect when that happens the usual sources will tell the usual reporters that Gore is simply showing the American people that he's just like them. These sources will say that this was planned months ago. First, the poorly fitting suits were abandoned for more stylish ones, and then the suits themselves were junked in favor of leisure clothing, and then, after the move to Nashville, jackets were gone altogether and there was Gore, something of a hunk, in a dark shirt and light pants. He looked great. I'm sure the polls will confirm that.
I expect any minute now the Gores will move into a Nashville home that's nothing but one huge television set. Cameras will be everywhere, like in the movie "The Truman Show," MTV's "The Real World" or what's now happening in Holland. There some young people have moved into a house erected within a TV studio where everything they do is videotaped and then distilled into a nightly half-hour program. The show's a big hit. This is what the Gores will do. This may be what Gore means when he says he's going to "let it all hang out."
Once again, the usual sources will tell the usual reporters that Gore is simply trying to show the American people that he's just like them. He sleeps like them and eats like them and, at night, watches wrestling on TV just like they do. Tipper, too, will turn out to be a regular woman, which is to say a regular wife, and we can all see her padding around the kitchen in fuzzy slippers, rolling her eyes whenever her husband says, "Home is not only a place, it's an idea."
"Oh yeah," we hear her say, "well the idea needs storm windows."
Of course, all of this would be deeply troubling to Bill Bradley. He will not understand what Gore is doing. He cannot move home since he is already home and, besides, no one ever moved home to New Jersey. He cannot talk of Jersey as Gore does Tennessee because there is precious little romance attached to either the Jersey Turnpike or, say, Newark. There are Tennessee walkers, the Tennessee waltz but only Jersey mosquitoes.
But Bradley will sense danger. He has come out of nowhere because he has said nothing and done it in a way not to excite people. Make no mistake, though. He is strongly against racism, and this, apparently, has captivated people for whom this is a new idea. He also has some admirable positions on gun control and health insurance but so, come to think of it, does Gore. Anyway neither proposal has generated much excitement at all.
Bradley's constituency is The Bored. This a vast swath of the American electorate, wealthy too, which is seeking anyone but Gore. Most of these people cannot tell you a single area in which a Bradley administration would be different from a Gore administration. They are drawn to Bradley because he is the only other person in the race and, besides, he is supposedly thoughtful. (For proof, see his position on racism.)
Whatever else you -- or I -- might say about Bradley, he has conducted himself with dignity, with the strong suggestion that there are things he will not do and positions he will not take just to become his party's nominee. His manner assures us that, just as he had a life before this presidential race, he will have a life afterward. He seems to know who he is.
I wish I could say that about Gore. But there is something both frantic and synthetic about the campaign's move to Nashville and all this talk about home. It was only done, after all, when the campaign got into trouble. It's not so much a move as a retreat. Besides, if Gore has to be on location to be real -- if he has to be in Tennessee to be the sort of person he really is -- then what is he going to do if he wins the presidency -- move the White House to Nashville?
Albert Gore was first elected to Congress in 1976. He has been a public figure since his twenties, a national figure since his thirties, a presidential candidate by his 40th birthday (in 1988) and vice president since 1993. All this searching for roots, all this stuff about home, suggests something I'm sure he does not intend. It's not that we really never knew the real Al Gore. It's that he never really knew himself.