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Al and Tipper Gore: Quitters! I Salute You

3 years ago
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Splitting after 40 years. Why? That's what everyone wants to know, including Politics Daily Editor in Chief Melinda Henneberger and a few of my Woman Up colleagues. Gotta say: Me too.

But I'm just curious. Sort of. Really, isn't the reason predictable? As a friend observed: If you live long enough and meet enough people, eventually you'll meet someone you like better than your spouse. (Not to say there's a third party involved in this split. I'm just quotin' my old pal.)

Like many others, I winced at the long kiss on the stage of the Democratic Convention in 2000, a rebuttal of sorts in the wake of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Comedian Bill Maher labeled the Gore kiss as code for: I f*** my wife.

My own marriage just clocked in at 33 years. In truth, though, if you count the brief periods we left each other, we're on our 7th (8th? 9th? I lose count) marriage. We just didn't go through with the paperwork.

My husband and I got married on a whim. I had $50 in my pocket. He had a guitar and equal parts talent and attitude. Naturally, poverty dogged us for years, along with the accompanying stress. But unlike other couples we never fought over money. Or housekeeping. (Two slobs -- what's to criticize?) Or children, since we had none. Instead, we fought over the kinds of things that enrage high school sweethearts. Which tells you something about us, I guess.

After 33 years I believe we've finally sanded off all the rough spots, but you never know. A woman can not predict how she'll react to a transgression or illness, or how a partner will react to hers.

The phrase "I lost interest" would cover so many perceived failures in life, but people rarely use it for anything other than blogging and collecting model trains. The phrase is tainted with the stain of the word quitter, aka loser.

But to some, quitting is a virtue. To quote the The Lost Art of Quitting:
As human beings, we change. Our lives change. Our opinions change. Our habits change. Our thoughts change. Our perspectives change. Our ideas change. Our goals, dreams and aspirations change. And with that needs to come flexibility. If, on the other hand, we are constantly in the process of change, but are also constantly trying to stick to our initial commitments and try to avoid being a quitter, we're going to be pulled in both directions, never making progress in either.
The zen master of quitting would be author Evan Harris. Harris is such a quitter -- she even quit quitting, apparently -- the most relevant site you can find dates back to 1996. She wrote, "Quitting is a hallowed American tradition: The country was settled by Puritans, a group of separatists who quit England. The Declaration of Independence is a quitter's document. Westward expansion was one big locational quit."

Harris explained that at one point she'd built her whole life around quitting.
I signed no lease, started no love affair, and took a job as a waitress, which is nothing if not highly quittable. I acquired no kitchen equipment, did not hang a single picture on the wall; none of the bills were in my name. In the absence of the things that had formerly defined and given structure to my life -- the companion, the job, the permanent address -- I made a home of impermanence and non-attachment.
It's a sentiment echoed in the final song of the Gen-X masterpiece, the musical "Avenue Q." The song is titled "For Now."

"Why does everything have to be so hard?" asks the character Princeton. "But then, I don't know why I'm even alive."

"Well, who does, really?" replies a friend. "Everyone's a little bit unsatisfied."

The song continues: "For now we're healthy, for now we're employed." For now there's life, love, sex, your hair. All are just for now.

George Bush made the just-for-now list. "Avenue Q" premiered off-Broadway in 2003, and oh how true the impermanence of health, employment and hair has proven to be in the decade known as the aughts. George Bush was a bit more resilient than the show's creators might have wished, but in the end Bush too was just for now.

On the Gore separation, perhaps the most appropriate answer to the question "Why, after 40 years?" is the one Al Gore himself gave to his father. In 1970, after 32 years serving in Congress, Al Gore, Sr. lost a brutal campaign for re-election. What now? he wondered. What could he take away from this? Al Gore, Jr. answered, "Dad, I'd take the 32 years."

In the case of Al and Tipper, make that 40 years. Something to celebrate, if you ask me.

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33 Comments

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dickst

Take the 40 years is a great way to look at the relationship, and who knows, maybe they will get back together someday. Like his father's senate career, people can not always predict or dictate when their "run" at career or personal relationships will hit rough ground. We must all move on. Tomorrow is another day. Thanks, Donna, for this positive outlook. I salute you for sharing this approach instead of creating yet another gossip piece about a family that must be very tired of being in the public spotlight for so many years.

July 10 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jaboger

I have yet to determine if "giving up on someone" takes courage or cowardness... Yes, we all change, grow together, grow apart, but always still together as we walk in our own unigueness of life. Isn't it really about faith? Faith in yourself, your significant other and in some form of a higher power to empower you to be tolerant and love someone through the successes and failures.

How can two imperfect people, live in perfect relationship without some form of divinity making it happen? I don't know, but I want to go on and see how it ends with my love and sweetheart by my side...

June 24 2010 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Glo

We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. I believe we both deserve a medal. We had our moments but none important enough to take away the strong love we have for each other.There were times we were angry with each other, sometimes disappointed at a decision made and even times when we fought over the kids. However, as we grew older we became closer and communicated more and shared our feelings, positive or negative.I believe we have a wonderful marriage that could not be destroyed by an outside influence. The key is love, understanding, communication and support even if you don't agree with his or her choices made.Today is is so easy to give up without really trying! Glo

June 24 2010 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lizzie

I understand this decision completely. I am walking away from a 37 year marriage to my High School sweetheart. We have 3 sons we are very proud of. I have given up and subjugated in every area of my life to keep my husband and my kids happy at the expense of myself. Shall I go on living with a veil over me or shall I live a purposeful life that doesn't deny my souls evolution? For me after all these years it is obvious that it would be to my great detriment to stick it out just because of how long I have put up with denying what I need to nurture my soul. I am an expert at it but will no longer take the comfortable route...I would rather take the road towards change and love for myself. I love my husband but I am not in Love with him and haven't been for a long time. I will always hope for a great life for him and I hope that he will honor me with the same wishes. People change and need to find what fulfills them as human beings. Staying with someone for convention is a sham. I honor Tipper and Al for being civil and showing the rest of the world how to end things amicably. There is no shame in ending a marriage of such long duration. Kudos to all the people who walk away from arrangements that no longer sustain them.

June 09 2010 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xxo1984

At least I have to say that I like Donna's take on the Gore's divorce better than the other pity party columns.. and their feigned concerns for the marriage of some Very Rich political mannequins. No doubt, they will manage just fine.

June 03 2010 at 2:34 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
sroach8577

Mrs. Trussel, I ask you, what has this to do with anything other than gossip? Your celeberty/hollywood infatuation is shinning through here.

June 03 2010 at 12:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
kiowapecan

This saga isn't over. Al is just moving further away. Defeat in politics. Defeat in big business. Now it is defeat in personal issues. It looks like a spiral downward. How he thinks and what happens to him will be the subject of books in a few years.

June 03 2010 at 11:13 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
risacaitlin007

Gary,

Isn't it rather presumptuous to think you would know better than the two parties involved? After all, they have been in the marriage for 40 years. We as the public are only allowed limited access, certainly not 40 years' worth of time. I think it is sad that they have grown apart, but I commend them for recognizing that they would be better off without each other. I wish them both good luck and happiness.

June 03 2010 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gary E. Eddey

I do believe that MR. Gore and Mrs. Gore are making a mistake.

June 03 2010 at 9:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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