OFF THE GRID

Annals of Marriage: The Gores Depart the Stage

Jun 3, 10 | 7:51 AM   byMichael Wolff
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So…political marriages are, we learn practically every day, a key political variable. And, too, that perhaps nobody’s marriage survives middle age (even those that appear to survive, probably haven’t). It’s the elemental subject of our time. Or it’s a boring subject. If you live apart a lot you grow apart. If you live together you grow apart. But why, if you can live apart, would you actually need to declare yourself apart? So it must be an affair. Or, on the other hand, definitely not an affair. “After a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate…” Really? Or, more likely, after a long period of hardly talking at all, they decided to separate. “I’ve had it, let’s just get a divorce,” says, one, trying to provoke the other. “Hmmm, well, yes, OK,” says the other. Bluff called.

It’s nobody else’s business, anyway.

“I know people are feeling surprised, but there’s just not a lot of drama behind this,” said someone, identified as a Gore “close friend and adviser,” to the Times. “They remain very close friends.” Now, what are the chances of that? And yet…perhaps. That is…if you can afford to separate, literally afford to keep everybody economically whole, and to not damage children, or careers, and, in fact, to be all pretty copacetic about the whole damn thing, why wouldn’t you? At 62, he doesn’t seem to be retiring. Rather, he seems to have begun a new career with various endeavors and continuing opportunities—a new life. She seems to have bought a big new house in Montecito (free of Washington and Tennessee). In other words, the Gores embody an entirely new demographic imperative. People rich enough and fit enough to recast themselves for their final few decades. A new paradigm for a new paradigm kind of guy.

Or, finally, really, here it is: He’s come to understand politics is done for him. The long, hard, strangling, cynical road comes to an end. No more pretense needed. Holding a marriage together for the sake of history is no longer necessary. History, it turns out, doesn’t care about this marriage. Whereas, the Clinton marriage goes on because they still believe history cares. Still, it must rankle: Bill and Hillary outlasting them. But they’ve put that aside: they just don’t care. Though they do—naturally—wonder if the marriage isn’t one of the other losses of Bush v. Gore. What would they be like if they were only now getting their post-White House life going? (But then again, all marriages founder on life’s disappointments.)

Of all the politicians I’ve had proximity to in my adult life, Al Gore has seemed the most emotionally fragile. I once was told that I could begin an interview with him after he took a short call. I went into the room and took a seat in front of the desk where he was sitting. The call did not come as immediately as expected, so together we looked at the phone in silence—for an excruciating and tortured five minutes. I don’t think Al Gore has ever been quite where he wants to be, or ever felt as comfortable as he ought to feel. Getting older changes that.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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