“I’m very ambivalent about all of this: whether Gore’s message makes for good politics, how I personally think that rhetoric sounds, all of these things. But one thing I am quite clear on is that hyper-educated, upper-middle-class folks — i.e., almost all journalists — have never, through the course of American history, been the people for whom Populist rhetoric resonates. That’s an incontestable fact. It’s one that’s important to keep in mind. And I think it’s seldom kept in mind.”
Right now there is a split in the Democratic Party between those who hear populist messages and those who hear New Democrat messages. And this Gore-versus-Lieberman snit calls attention to that split. But as I think Gore’s op-ed in The New York Times (and Lieberman’s backing off) demonstrates, Gore may have found an effective way to blend those messages. So why did he lose? I’d like to think we could find an intellectual reason. But I think his losing comes down to a matter of personal style, which is also a form of rhetoric that speaks to people about the substance of a candidate.