Bill Clinton and Al Gore in dramatic release of two imprisoned
Clinton and Al Gore, considered almost joined at the hips one time as
President and Vice President but separated and aloof for a while, had an
emotional re-union after they had two US journalists released from
prison for illegally entering North Korea.
Clinton had met with President Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang, in the
Capital of North Korea recently. It was high drama few miles from my
home in Los Angeles when Clinton's plane landed at Burbank Airport as a
tearing crowd cheered the two journalists as well as Clinton and
Gore-seen together first time in nine years.
Clinton and Gore hugged watched by millions on TV and the two rescued
journalists and their weeping families. It was cries of joy as the
rescue had been an uncertainty until the last minute. The tableau of the
re-union was unforgettable theatre made for TV.
They had parted company after Gore's disappointing loss to George W.
Bush in 2000 when Clinton campaigned for Gore with less than full gusto,
while Gore was accused of distancing himself from Clinton after the
infamous Monica Lewinsky episode. So, it was a gripping moment at the
Airport. Clinton and Gore had jointly worked in the rescue mission with
hours of long-distance calls and finally a face-to-face meeting in North
Korea between Presidents Clinton and Kim Jong-Il.
Tableau made for TV
On the tarmac at Burbank were the two dominant Democrats of the
1990s, Gore and Clinton, coming together almost like after a bitter
divorce, who had crucially negotiated the end of an international crisis
on behalf of President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary
of State and Obama's erstwhile rival for the nomination in 2008. Gore
did most of the backroom work from LA while Clinton negotiated in North
Korea. Clinton-Gore parting seemed destined to end in a sad departure
for the two close associates as they had little contact for nearly nine
years. They had built different careers-Clinton with his Global
Initiative and Gore winning the Nobel Prize for his environment efforts
regarding global warming. They shared a common past but had made peace
with their own lives as they drifted away.
"A special thanks to President Clinton," Gore said, as Clinton gazed
at him, his head nodding: "My partner and friend, so grateful." Mike
Feldman, a Democratic consultant who had worked for both men, watched in
amazement. He said they have off and on done different things. But when
you work side by side as they did, that's a pretty strong bond and that
doesn't go away. People say they don't spend a lot of time together -
well, they live in different cities."
Both Clinton and Gore looked aged a little, even showing heavier heft
and grayer hair.
But the fascinating and era-defining time when they governed as
partners were unforgettable to many of those present at the Airport.
During the election campaign of 1992 Bill-Hillary Clinton and Al- Tipper
Gore combination were described as two couples on a double date going
round the country.
Still, many later felt that it was a bond seemingly more pragmatic
than personal, by two of the most ambitious men who had evolved and
found a chemistry born of political necessity which ultimately landed
them at White House.
Bonds gone sour
Similar bonding and later tensed up relationship between George Bush
and Dick Cheney from 2000 to 2008 brought obvious comparisons to surface
as politics had lived up to be the fawning grounds for sour
relationships once out of office. The Election campaign of 2000 was
Gore's to 'lose as Bush was way behind in the polls. Gore lost the
electoral vote to George W. Bush on a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Gore-Clinton confrontation at White House according to many was
contentious as Gore blamed Clinton for his loss - suggesting that he had
been dragged down by the burden of Clinton's impeachment proceedings -
and Clinton angrily retorted Gore for distancing himself from Clinton
and his record.
All that seemed to have been forgotten as Gore called Clinton two
weeks ago and asked for his help to rescue the two journalists who had
been supporters of both Clinton and Gore. So when the two shook hands at
the Airport there were wild cheers. The moment was unforgettable.
As recently as June, Ling and Lee had been sentenced to 12 years'
hard labour for allegedly entering North Korea illegally. Clinton was
able to get them a pardon from President Kim Jong-Il very quickly after
arrival. US President Barack Obama had delivered a verbal message to the
Korean President, many believe. It is also reported that the journalists
may have got their freedom due to Hillary Clinton's appeal for amnesty
and a nudge and a nod from China.