Only Al

The Al Gore boomlet, which has been gathering force in recent months, has crested in Ryan Lizza’s New Republic piece this week, in which he argues that Gore is the only Democrat who can stop Hillary.

He makes a fairly complicated argument:

“Hillary’s strategists are driven by a fear that electability is her greatest weakness in the primaries. In Democratic circles the conventional wisdom is that Hillary can’t lose the nomination but can’t win the general election. ‘It is her Achilles heel if activists in Iowa and New Hampshire wake up and decide she can’t win it,’ says a party operative. But every move Hillary makes to stamp out the electability meme–tough talk on Iraq, moderate noise on abortion–opens her up further to a challenge from the left in the primaries. ”

Gore is the darling of the blogosphere, but unlike other Kos favorites, a case can be made that he has a better general election chance than Hillary. (He did get more votes once, after all.) And he is, as Lizza notes, an anti-war hawk who can go after Hillary from the right and the left.

It’s all plausible to a point, but some elements of the argument seem stretched. Can Gore really claim to be a Washington outsider? He was Veep…

Anyway, TNR revels in tweaking the conventional wisdom, but I’m not sure the convention wisdom Lizza is tweaking is yet worth dismissing. A lot of Democrats still, quietly, consider Clinton unelectable. Whether that’s a widespread perception probably won’t be tested until the winter before the 2008 election, a notoriously unpredictable time. If an anti-Hillary mood emerges, Gore isn’t the only one who can capitalize.

Actually, if a Gore ex Machina, with everything breaking his way, is the only alternative, what Lizza’s really arguing is that Hillary’s nomination is inevitable. Only Al