Next, Gore's populism is a nice way of negating Bush's claim to be a "new kind of Republican." It does this directly, by painting him as a traditional big-business Republican who cares about fat cats rather than the public.
It also does so indirectly, by narrowing the gap Bush has tried to create between himself and the congressional Republicans, who are far less popular than he is. Gore combines his anti-business broadsides with side-thrusts at the "do-nothing-for-the-people Republican Congress."
Lastly, Gore's combination of populist rhetoric and centrist policies presents him with a way around that occupational hazard facing all vice presidents: how to distinguish yourself from your predecessor, without losing the credit for his achievements, or seeming disloyal.
The anti-corporate ranting is certainly different from Bill Clinton, who rarely indulges in such old-fashioned attacks. It also provides one or two new, popular promises (to reduce the cost of drugs and fuel). And it does so without seriously compromising Gore's claim to fiscal rectitude.
There is still a long way to go before November - and it may prove hard to prevent Gore's class-based rhetoric from overwhelming his policy restraint. But, though he is venturing down a risky road, inconsistency is already making him a better candidate.
This article first appeared in the Economist.