Saturday, July 19, 2008

Al Gore, Progressive

Ya gotta love Al Gore.

With his challenge Thursday that the United States set a goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources and carbon-constrained fuels within 10 years, he's set an audacious goal - but one behind which Americans can rally; and which would place the United States in a vastly different posture at the end of 10 years than where we stand today in terms of oil dependency and global climate change.

Of course the naysayers and small-minded will say it can't be done - but really, why not??

This is the sort of challenge America used to embrace - leading the way on solving problems with hard work, unity and innovative new approaches.

Can America still pull itself together for these sorts of challenges? Good question. Bob Herbert ruminates in today's New York Times, "The correct response to Mr. Gore’s proposal would be a rush to figure out ways to make it happen. Don’t hold your breath.

"When exactly was it that the U.S. became a can’t-do society? It wasn’t at the very beginning when 13 ragamuffin colonies went to war against the world’s mightiest empire. It wasn’t during World War II when Japan and Nazi Germany had to be fought simultaneously. It wasn’t in the postwar period that gave us the Marshall Plan and a robust G.I. Bill and the interstate highway system and the space program and the civil rights movement and the women’s movement and the greatest society the world had ever known.

"When was it?

"Now we can’t even lift New Orleans off its knees."

Herbert continues, "Americans are extremely anxious at the moment, and I think part of it has to do with a deeply unsettling feeling that the nation may not be up to the tremendous challenges it is facing. A recent poll by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time magazine that focused on economic issues found a deep pessimism running through respondents.

"According to Margot Brandenburg, an official with the foundation, nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds 'feel that America’s best days are in the past.'

"The moment is ripe for exactly the kind of challenge issued by Mr. Gore on Thursday. It doesn’t matter if his proposal is less than perfect, or can’t be realized within 10 years, or even it if is found to be deeply flawed. The goal is the thing.

"The fetish for drilling for ever more oil is the perfect metaphor these days. The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging."