America appears to be dangerously divided. The mere fact that this never-ending story of Election 2000 continues and the result is so close illustrates just how divided the republic stands.
Perception becomes reality. Notwithstanding the argument that most of Al Gore's popular vote count is a product of vote fraud, voter fraud and abuse of the perpetually changing process, America is divided.
Extremists on both sides of the political divide are increasing the intensity of their rhetoric. On the left, Paul Begala is preaching hate and divisiveness and the right has allegedly increased ammunition sales by 900 percent. Peaceful protests are becoming more ubiquitous than they were in the '60s (although a middle-aged San Francisco businesswoman told me she was spit upon by a Gore supporter in Union Square during a rally.)
To paraphrase the lyrics from "The Music Man," "We got trouble with a capital T and rhymes with G and that stands for Gore."
Al Gore, by his petulant abuse of power under the color of authority (where have we heard that before) continues to pick at the scab of the Florida vote count, recount, recount of the recount, dimpled/pregnant/hanging chad fiasco. Al Gore has critically wounded the republic he would presume to steal. He is validating every criticism of him as a mean spirited, myopic, power hungry manipulator of facts that contradict his preconceived opinions and wanton desires. He has done irreparable harm to himself, his party, the process and the country.
Even knuckle-dragging, rabid liberals seek to distance themselves from the inevitable consequences of the crisis we suffer while Al Gore continues to pour gasoline on the fire of discontent.
Despite the fictional never-never land of the author of "Earth in the Balance," there are consequences to what we do and don't do. We teach this axiom to our kids, our pets, and our employees. There are consequences.
The increasing discontent (at least in private) of sycophant Democrats to the exacerbating petulance of Gore has already created consequences that will not be easily mitigated or defused.
The military is ripped. Talk of massive resignations and retirements are no longer quiet bar talk at NCO clubs and Officers Clubs. It has become palpable.
Richard Cohen, a liberal who voted for Al Gore wrote a compelling epiphany in the Washington Post. "Could Al Gore rally the nation?" he asked. Cohen says, "Maybe." I say no way. He has picked at the festering scab too long. The resultant scar is forever imbedded in the essence of Al Gore. Cohen asks, "Could he go over the heads of Congress and get the country behind him?" Not even! There is already talk that if (God forbid) Gore purloins his way into power, Republicans will start his term by boycotting the inauguration -- and that would be just the first act. Democrats would pay by association in ways substantive and petty. Gridlock may or may not be a bad thing in and of itself, but add to the equation a further accelerated deterioration of the military and we've got trouble.
Whoever occupies the Oval Office will probably have to deal with a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, an escalating war in the Mideast, gas prices skyrocketing, Chinese hegemony expansions in Asia, a major stock market "correction" and a potential recession.
Cohen (who apparently would like the opportunity for a "do over" with his vote) wrote, "I think, though, that Bush would be better at those things -- and better, too, at restraining GOP Dobermans like Reps. Tom DeLay and J.C. Watts Jr. At the same time, it's not likely that a President Bush would be able to appoint Supreme Court justices ideologically similar to those he says he admires, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Simply put, he ain't got the votes." Don't count on that Supreme Court wish, Richard. The hurt Gore has inflicted will cost the Democrats dearly, and they will be compelled to play "Let's Make a Deal."
Cohen wrote about how John F. Kennedy rebounded from the potential disaster of his having stolen the 1960 election from Nixon and he noted (most accurately) "Gore is almost Kennedy's antithesis. No one has ever applied the word 'grace' to him." No kidding. Even the gentle man, Ward Connerly, focused on the "mean-spirited" nature of Al Gore.
Last week in this space I wrote, a brief reality check for Gore-Daly:
The Florida activist Supreme Court is overreaching ... Gore loses.
Code, Title 3, Sec. 2, gives a "State Legislature the discretion to appoint
Electors" if or when a state's presidential vote is in doubt. Since the
Republicans control both the Florida Assembly (77-43) and the Senate (25-15),
if the legislature decides ... Gore loses.
Here is a guy who is already (according to San Francisco mayor, hard-core liberal Democrat Willie Brown) losing the public relations war. Now he indicates he intends to flip off the Supreme Court and fight and fight and fight for no other purpose than blind, deaf, personal ambition run amok.
Cohen and others have observed that, at this critical point in American history, the greatest most demanding imperative for the new president is not going to be fulfilling any campaign promise or delivering on tax cuts or Social Security. The first and most challenging task of the next president will be to commence and expedite the healing process -- to restore, the fiction of honor and dignity to the presidency, and to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible.
I am one of those optimistic realists who figure that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
As disruptive and painful this endless process seems right now, it has created opportunities, which (if exploited) can make this country even greater. Thomas Jefferson said, "When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny."
During the Clinton-Gore regime, Americans have increasingly come to fear the government.
Now, at least potentially, in the wake of spontaneous overwhelming popular outrage for Gore/DNC tactics and petulance, as growing numbers of active-duty military are openly discussing voting their "no confidence" and outrage at the threat of a Gore ascendancy with their feet, as "the man who would be king" has clearly demonstrated his contempt for the law and eagerness to pursue the fight in defense of the indefensible, the system of government is hovering increasingly close to fearing the people -- and that healthy fear that most everyone (except Al Gore) can smell, smells and feels like freedom and liberty.
Gore tried (and failed) to position himself as part of the solution. Instead
he has clearly crystallized himself as the new poster boy for the problem.