Politics & Policy

Keystone-Cops Fiasco

The morning after.

Ok. Ok. Like many, many journalists I was up very late watching this keystone-cops fiasco. Like many, many journalists I reveled in it. Like many, many journalists I drank to my heart’s content (and I am a big-hearted guy). Unlike many journalists who participated in the bacchanalia of American democracy I actually have to write something this morning. Damn this Internet doohickey and all its vaunted “intimacy”!

Ok, like many sober, clear-eyed journalists this morning I am scrambling for copy. I am not going to bother explaining how all this works because most of you have been watching TV and I haven’t been so you should be telling me what’s going on. This all does bring to mind George Bernard Shaw’s observation that “An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.”

Anyway, as I gather it, Florida needs a recount like I need a Bloody Mary, and when that happens we may know something. I would study the situation more, but that would distract me from valuable time I need to shave my tongue.

So, first of all, to give you a sense of what my mindset is and to rack up my word count I want to show you something. I was asked to participate in post-election symposiums with Salon and Voter.com last night. When it seemed that Bush won Florida around 2:30 I dashed off my responses. I have no idea whether they’ve run them or not. I would check, but even the hum of my web browser is too much for my headache right now. But here they are (with some copy editing by the sober-eyed staff of NRO):


At 2:26 A.M. I asked my posse of conservative partisans: “Hey Guys, I’ve got to write something for Salon about the Bush win.”

My friend Scott McLucas responded, “Hey, Jonah. Go find an open Kinko’s and Xerox your ass and send it to them. That’s all you owe those jackasses.”

So, that’s where I come down. The world of Jonathan Alter and Sean Wilentz was overturned; those who believe that arrogance and self-indulgence are a substitute for wisdom and compassion have been exposed as fools. And that is as close to my understanding of justice. I think it was too narrow a win to claim a huge mandate or anything like that. But I can say this: as the ground gave away under Gore’s feet, Paul Begala became more and more of a parody of a hysterical girl looking to kick anybody in the shin he could. Will George Bush be a great president? Who knows. But America was narrowly saved from the most tedious and condescending jackass imaginable.


What to say? It’s a quarter to 3:00 in the morning. George W. Bush did not win a huge mandate. But he did win; despite the fact that he took the high road in the face of the most relentlessly negative campaign in more than a decade. Gore and his surrogates accused Bush of believing blacks should be dragged to death, old people thrown out into the street, and any successful company be put in the dock. He suggested his opponents are rats and his cause one of good versus evil. He lost on technical terms but he ran on them as well. His strategy came close, but it was based on the worst assumptions of the American people. That the race was narrow is more delicious irony than tragic circumstance. Any man who threatens old women and charges unfiltered bigotry deserves to lose. He did not run an honorable race and the margin of his loss was less than what he deserved.

Okay, one clarification, my friend Scott was not suggesting I Xerox my Dershowitz because the people at Salon are Jackasses so much as the Liberals who read it are. Maybe that difference between that distinction is not enough to ever receive an invitation from Salon to write for them again, but I thought I should be clear.

I would like to offer one bit of substance. If Al Gore wins the popular vote, my position will not change. I love the Electoral College and I will grab my musket and defend it with everything I’ve got. I don’t have the neurons to explain why right now, but you might check out the symposium we ran on the topic yesterday.

Anyway, I am going to go get a cup of coffee, finish shaving my tongue, watch TV, kick a cat, and generally prepare for the rest of this constitutional crisis. I will be back later this afternoon. In the interim, I heartily suggest you keep checking NRO because we are the A-Team of political coverage for this kind of thing. We will be driving around our cool panel van all day solving crimes and helping readers in distress.

Keep Hope Alive.


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