Al Gore’s denials about a possible presidential run are getting more and more equivocal. Today, paleocon Pat Buchanan argues that Gore could beat Hillary to secure the Dem nomination and possibly the presidency.

If anything, I think he understates the case, particularly in two places. Here’s the first, most relevant for our purposes:

… Gore has taken out the patent on the global warming issue, and the environmental movement remains a powerful engine of cash and campaign labor inside the Democratic Party.

This is true as far as it goes, but global warming is already breaking out of its "environmental movement" box. It’s becoming a matter of broad national concern at a time when people are looking for a positive fight to rally around, something other than the relentless fear of brown people being sold them by Republicans. This will be even more true by the time 2008 rolls around and Bush’s manifold failures have driven his party to go more and more negative.

Relatedly, Buchanan says:

To Democrats, Gore was right on the war when almost everyone else was wrong, which gives him the inside track to the antiwar vote that will be as crucial in the Democratic primaries of 2008 as it was in 1968 and 1972.

The "antiwar vote" is not, as it was in 1968, a counter-culture niche. Poll numbers consistently show a majority of the country turning against the Iraq War, and with Bush on auto-pilot, insisting we’ll "stay the course," nothing major will have changed by 2008 except discontent will be greater. The country is anti-war, and will only get more so.

A guy like Buchanan is practically programmed to see stuff like global warming and peace as leftie concerns applicable mainly to Dem primaries. But he, like so many of our national commentators, is missing a broad, grassroots shift.

I hope Gore gets in the race. Then we can find out whether there’s hunger for something new, or whether the same petty, blinkered negativity will trivialize yet another consequential election.

(More from Ezra)