I'm not making any promises, but I hope this will be the last column for a
while that I devote to this election. The drama has been so riveting it's
been irresistible to me. The cast was compelling. The stakes high. The
suspense agonizing. When George W. lays his hand on the Bible and takes the
Inaugural oath, he'll be casting outin their presencethose enemies who
ousted his father eight years ago. What could be more dramatic?
Save for its lack of violence and beauty of language, this contest had all
the drama of Shakespeare. George W. seeking revenge for his warrior-father's
defeat at the hands of Clinton-Gore. Al Gore sinking beneath the burden of
lifelong ambition deferred, possibly forever. Fortune's great wheel
At times, even the language rose to the level of Shakespeare, as when Gore
quoted his father, Albert Gore, Sr., so: "Defeat may serve as well as
victory to shake the soul and let the glory out." What a rich and sumptuous
Speaking of violence, I'm amazed no one was killed during the past five
weeks as a result of this contest. When front lines formed in Palm Beach,
Miami and Washington, I fully expected spilt blood. Let the world scoff at
our system. It's still a miracle, and a tribute to the Founders.
Witness the tearshuman and crocodilefrom commentators responding to
Gore's concession speech Wednesday. Peter Jennings was husky-voiced as he
talked about Gore's generosity. Chris Matthews was near to crying as he
blathered on about having heard one of the greatest speeches of his life.
Cokie Roberts noted how gracious Gore was. It's ironic. If these esteemed
pundits had strung three kind words together during the campaign, Gore
probably would have won.
Sam Donaldson's remarks were especially ironic. Asked what he thought
Gore's enduring legacy would be, Donaldson suggested "environmental
awareness." It may sound alarmist, said Donaldson, but if something isn't
done about global warming, "we're all going to perish." Now's a fine time to
mention it. Where was he when Bush dead-panned during a debate, "We don't
know what causes global warming, do we?"
Before you judge Gore too harshly for pressing his case, consider it from
Gore received more votes than anyone in the history of America except for
Reagan. He got far more than Clinton, Bush, Carter, Nixon, Johnson or
Kennedy. How that must eat at him.
Bush won by laying claim to Florida by a margin of 537 votesless than
one-twentieth of one percent of the six million cast.
His victory was certified prematurely by a Bush activist, Katherine Harris,
employed by his brother, Jeb Bush.
Thousands of Jews and blacks voted for Buchanan rather than Gore, due to
More than 8,000 legal votersmostly blackwere apparently purged from
voting lists and barred from voting.
The company that conducted the purge was from Texas, Bush's home state.
Hand-counts were never finished even though a co-inventor of the voting
machine, testifying for Bush, mind you, admitted under oath that was the only
way to find out who really won.
The Supreme Court halted hand-recounts that showed Gore gaining ground and
allowed the clock to run out. The vote was five to four. The four protested
Family members of two of themScalia and Thomasmay have materially
benefited from that ruling.
A lower court ruled there was no evidence ballots had been miscounted, but
refused to examine the ballots to see if this was true. The list goes on.
Obviously, not every appearance of evil is evil, and I'm not often seduced
by conspiracy theories. I do believe, however that, planned or not,
circumstance gave Bush a material edge. Take away most any of the above
factors and Gore likely wins.
Amid the millions of words uttered the last five weeks, I don't remember
anyone from either side saying they thought a majority of the people in
Florida or the nation at large set out to vote for Bush on Election Day.
What I won't miss is the hatred and intolerance exuded by extremists on both
sides of this contest. I don't understand the mentality that paints political
opponents as evil. Such hatred is the real enemy. Even though I was for Gore,
I wrote long ago that any one of several candidates might make a good
president, and I believe it. This includes Bush.
Finally, Bush has many hurdles to overcome in getting millions of voters to
see him as our legitimate leader. Questions about this contest will haunt his
presidency. Still, once inaugurated, George W. Bush will be my president. I
wish him well, if only because I wish our nation well.