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Al and Tipper Gore's Love Story: We Thought You'd Never Part

3 years ago
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A decade ago, during one of a number of interviews with Al Gore for a biographical series I was writing for The New York Times, I mentioned to the vice president that I had interviewed his wife earlier that same day, and he lit up: "Isn't she cool?" Even his parents, he said, had a less formative influence on him than Tipper had in the years since they'd met at his high school prom.

"It's clearly the most important relationship I've ever had with anyone, bar none," he told me that day. "Even at a young age, she helped me understand things I never would have been able to understand otherwise. She has a way of understanding people and the world that I, well, I would be a completely and totally different person in every way except for her."

On another occasion, he told me that his wife "brings excitement to my life that wouldn't be there otherwise. She sees things I don't see, understands things I don't understand.'' And what does he bring her? He answered with a joke: ''An opportunity to use her expertise in psychology.''

Who would have bet that the Clintons would be the couple still together at the finish line? In fact, I'm not sure I can think of any public couple I would have been more surprised to hear was separating than the Gores. Though neither of them has spoken to me in the 10 years since I wrote this story about Mrs. Gore -- a story the then-editor of The New York Times Magazine, Adam Moss, derided to my face as "a total valentine" -- I couldn't be sorrier to hear about the split.

When someone dies, you want to know how they went, and when a marriage ends, you want to know the cause of death for the relationship, too -- not only out of prurient interest, though there is that, but for your own sake. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I can't tell you how relieved people were to hear that yes, the year before my diagnosis had been extra stressful, actually. I think that's because it made them feel that with just a little more yoga or pomegranate juice, they could keep right on walking around feeling immune. Just as, when a couple breaks up, you want it to make sense, and maybe even to be someone's fault, because if it doesn't and isn't, then you're stuck with the truth that it can happen to any of us. Or with the wisdom of Woody Allen: "Love fades."

The Gores weren't just a solid couple for Washington; they were solid, period. And if they couldn't stay together after 40 years, four kids, almost losing their son to a terrible accident, her depression, his schedule, their winning and losing and worse -- and then coming back together from what must have been hell after the recount -- well, what, if anything, does that mean for the rest of us?

Sad as it is, it takes bravery to make a decision this hard at this point, when most people would just do whatever it took to make the broken bearable. Would Oliver and Jenny Barrett have ended up divorcing after 40 years, too, had the heroine of Erich Segal's Love Story lived that long?

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49 Comments

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seminole & adlin

Al and Tipper, I am personally sorry to hear about your splint as husband and wife. Is it possible that your marriage was not made in heaven or without the Lord in the mist of it all. Listen, what GOD put togerther let no man or anyone or anything come between it or them. Some one or the two need to get on their knees and pray to GOD in Heaven and ask for guidance before they part company. Sometimes, we who are rich and famous do not let GOD and let Him decide for them. power is money and fame, However, we all will have to stand before the Almighty God and give account on the life we live or led hear on earth. Please Al and Tipper, pray before you decide to do this. This is serious business please do not mess it up. GOD IS WATCHING IT ALL. Signed Big Moe.

June 16 2010 at 9:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
aidamarcano

i feelsorry for them the gores

June 09 2010 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mrs T

More details will come out eventually.
I predict....and I have no inside information, some "young thing" gave Al a second look. He has major bucks, now, and is probably very attractive to the Green groupies.
Somehow, when men get power/money, they lose their equilibrium when it comes to sex.
No matter what, bottom line, it's very sad!

June 09 2010 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mary Jane

Mistake...BIG MISTAKE! But afterall they are grown adults and maybe in time they will realize that a separation was needed to bring them together again stronger than ever. Hopefully for the sake of the family.

June 02 2010 at 1:44 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mary Jane's comment
ponterb

How can you state Mistake...BIG MISTAKE, without any details?

June 02 2010 at 2:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
alipira187

God's perspective on marriage, from the Bible:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun..."

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

So, marriage is not merely a contractual agreement or union of convenience. It is a spiritual union, sanctioned by God himself. God also states in the Bible, that he hates divorce.

June 02 2010 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rubyluby

Gee whiz, if Al and Tipper can't stay together, what does this mean for the rest of us? Nothing. Using other relationships as an inspiration or roadmap for your own is a fruitless exercise. Marriage isn't a tally sheet of good and bad equals together or apart. Apparently, though, the author thinks it is; why else drag the Clinton's marriage in for comparison? As for Woody Allen, not the best person to quote about love.

June 02 2010 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
susieoh4u

Any relationship takes work, whether it be with your children, parents, friends or especially your spouse. if you do not make it a priority, it will fall on the wayside and into disrepair. It is sad that these two could not repair what had broken in their relationship, especially with forty years experience behind them... One thing I can say-the grass certainlly is not greener on the other side(especially if you are pulling someone elses weeds)and they will miss each other and what they had and will be hard pressed to find a better one...sad, just sad..
Its too bad that they dont have some good friends to help them see=just see what they are willing to give up.

June 02 2010 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mustache

As a gay man I resent any artcle about straight marriages. Ahh boo hoo. Gay people can't even get married. Marriage is something for straight people to throw away. Untill gay people can leagally marry I couldn't c are less about the Gores. This is just a way to say that our relationships are not as important as straight ones and we don't feel the same love for our partners. This is BS.

June 02 2010 at 11:46 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mustache's comment
carolm393

Just because you are gay does not mean you cannot understand 2 popele being together all these years and then coming apart. Being gay does not mean you lack compassion for others. Yes, it is sad that in some states you cannot marry. I don't care if the couple is gay or straight, a union ending after 40 years of trials, tributlations, memories, family, etc is sad. Something else that is sad, is that you have become bitter. I understand that you may have been made to feel prejudiced against but please do not condemn all straight people. Not all of us are homophobic. Many of us support your rights. Don't let idiots crush your soul and heart. I wish you well.

June 02 2010 at 12:15 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Elaine

I'm sad. I always hope for fairy tale endings and happily ever after.

June 02 2010 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ugogod

Sometimes, we do forget the realities of life, the promises we make to each other and the vows of marriage. Though we are individuals, we are still part of the society and must consider the effects of our individual decisions and actions on others-our society. There is no problem that can not be solved by a family like the Gore's. My opinion is that they will fix whatever went wrong and come back together.

June 02 2010 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ugogod's comment
ponterb

Of course, but explain to me how your neighbors getting divorced impacts your life or society as a whole?

June 02 2010 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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