A campaign without end

The dust has yet to settle on the mid-term elections and we’re already being hit with a high dosage of “Al Gore in 2004.” The former U.S. Senator, Vice President and top vote getter from Election 2000 is cranking up his publicity machine hoping for a second shot at the presidency.

While fellow Democrats are explaining why they lost the Congress and what the party will stand for in the future, Gore is yuking it up with the likes of Letterman, Leno and Imus. Could a guest appearance playing Ross’ long lost older brother on “Friends” be next? Or will he fight Jesse Ventura on the Fox network’s “Celebrity Boxing.”

Unfortunately for Gore, his “pay attention to me” publicity tour is the chosen method of gaining momentum for those seeking the White House these days. That’s because a race for president begins the morning after the previous election ends. It’s become a multimillion dollar, four-year cycle that takes its toll on both candidates and voters. How, as in Gore’s case, can a candidate build up a track record or create new ideas if he is running for President full time?

It’s still 21 months until Democrats and Republicans nominate their presidential candidates during the party conventions. These conventions were once a convergence of diverse ideas and people vying for control of their party and the highest office in the land. Political careers were made and destroyed in the pits of the convention floor. Today, the conventions are nothing but slickly produced infomercials. That’s because the nominations are already decided by the time the party meets.

Presidential candidates are running earlier and earlier making the election cycle that much longer and expensive. Bill Clinton, appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson the night after giving a long winded speech nominating Michael Dukakis in 1988. He played his saxophone with the band, thus marking his entry into the 1992 presidential race. Other potential candidates write books, go on foreign tours or ride the public speaking circuit. All of this is done with the hope of gaining favor with voters and political donors.

There was a time, believe it or not, when presidential candidates were nominated at a convention but never actively campaigned. They stayed at home instead. Modesty was the common virtue of the day.

Meanwhile, Al Gore is probably pondering whether to participate as a celebrity judge in the next installment of “American Idol.”

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