Monitor: US reaction to revelations that the feminist Naomi Wolf has been a consultant to Vice-President Al Gore in his presidential campaign
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Thursday 04 November 1999
It's too good. Al Gore has been paying $15,000 a month, very much on the side, for King-of-the-Forest lessons from feminist author Naomi Wolf. Judging by the astronomical fees Ms Wolf has been pocketing since January, it's no easy task transforming Al Gore into Alpha Gore. In the past year, Ms. Wolf has been a presence at strategy meetings at the veep's house, and has had input into his speeches. Although not a regular on the traveling campaign staff, she flew to New Hampshire prior to the vice-president's town meeting with Bill Bradley where, come to think of it, Mr. Gore delivered a fairly credible alpha performance just short of chest-thumping. It is unsettling to witness the spectacle of a grown man pursuing the presidency of the United States by learning to flare his nostrils, and paying through the nose to do it.
New York Post
In her book Promiscuities, Naomi Wolf discusses her reasons for examining women's sexuality explicitly: "I want to explore the shadow slut who walks alongside us as we grow up." How appropriate then that we learn that shadow- slut Wolf is Al Gore's shadow adviser. True to her credo, she has been figuratively alongside our vice-president helping him "grow up". Why does a 50-something man need help growing up from Naomi Wolf? The affair reveals an important truth: Gore has been propped up as an intellectual wonder boy, when in fact he is as hapless as his predecessor, Dan Quayle. He is a man who realizes the extent of his limitations and grasps around for the closest magic wand with which he can transmute himself into someone who will appear more "substantial". Alas, not even a shadow slut can work miracles.
In launching his first national campaign, Mr. Bradley has seemed content to rely on old collaborators. Mr Gore, however, who has been part of three previous national campaigns, seems constantly in search of some bright new whizz to power him through the next one. In the process, he has spent lavishly on a revolving cast of consultants - including one, we now discover, who has advised him to behave like an "alpha male". If Mr Gore were more confident about his purpose in running for president, he would not need these magical elixirs. And the fact that his campaign sought to conceal payments to Ms Wolf suggests that the candidate knows this only too well.
A good president needs to assemble an able, stable staff. Mr Gore's defenders may fairly say that leaders need to reach out broadly for advice, and that a troubled campaign such as Mr Gore's needs to shuffle staff in order to regain momentum. It is not too late for Mr Gore to show that he can run an effective campaign team, but the primaries are fast approaching.
New York Times
Wolf has argued internally that Gore is a "beta male" who needs to take on the "alpha male" in the Oval Office before the public will see him as the top dog.
Of course, when a man has to pony up a fortune to a woman to teach him how to be a man, that definitely takes the edge off his top-dogginess. Ms Wolf is the moral equivalent of an Armani T-shirt, because Mr Gore has obscenely overpaid for something basic. It is advice given to all vice-presidents: Be your own guy. Now Ms Wolf has to make the unfun Gore fun. She has come up with her most un-feminist notion yet: urge a gentle, new-age beta male to act like a Fight Club macho alpha male, the sort who bares his teeth and drags women off to his cave.
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