Does anyone get the sense in this fallout of our post-election
explosion that Al Gore and company will not be going quietly into that
good night? That every new call for a recount and fluttering of court
filings has taken on the aura of those desperate, last minute
stay-of-execution appeals that lawyers typically instigate on behalf of
cold-blooded murderers? What we are witnessing here is no longer
democracy in action (that was a few weeks ago) but a political career in
the throes of demise. And it is not a pretty sight.
To be fair, I can commiserate to the extent that any man whose entire
life has been perched upon politics would be bitterly disappointed at
the loss of that which he has coveted for so long. I can agree that it
would be almost natural to want to contest a defeat delivered by such a
narrow margin, particularly when the stakes are so high. And I can
understand how so much more frustrating it would be to realize one
actually garnered the popular vote, but not the votes that truly count.
But regardless of all these considerations, or maybe because of them,
I am utterly appalled that a man who would be president could behave in
such a juvenile manner.
A couple of centuries ago, when contemplating the assembly of our
government, our founding fathers remarked when considering the
presidency that “the man should not seek the office, but the office
should seek the man.”
In other words, one doesn’t apply for this position, one earns it.
It is earned not by birthright or inheritance or education, but by
repeatedly demonstrating a certain caliber of maturity, a decency of
character and a soundness of mind and emotion. Brilliance is not a
prerequisite, but having principles is.
The enormous responsibility and inherent power that comes with this
office necessitates that the person in charge adhere to the highest
degree of standards, ethics and morals. Just as the captain of a ship
has the fate of the crew and passengers in his hands, so holds the
office of the presidency, anchored as it is at the helm of the nation.
Even with the separation of powers lodged in our government, a most
influencing authority resides with the presidency, and, through internal
executive appointments and external foreign agreements, this office
retains the greatest ability to lead the nation on high or to run it
Eight years ago, when Bill Clinton slid into the presidency on a far
lesser percentage of votes than either Al Gore or George Bush just
amassed, there was much marveling over the realization that in America a
man of middle-class background and fractured domestic life actually
could rise up and become the leader of our nation.
To many people, this affirmed that the parity of our system was what
allowed the average citizen to have a shot at the most powerful office
in the world. It proved the equality provision of our founding
documents. And though it may be true that practically any citizen of
our country holds the potential to ascend to this office, it is likewise
true that simply because the potential exists doesn’t mean that any
American who is capable of winning a presidential election should be
(That is why our keenly perceptive founding fathers also wrote in an
It is widely viewed at this point (three weeks and four vote counts
following the election), that the probability of Al Gore achieving his
dream is about as likely as the sun rising in the West. Even the
average Democrat is beginning to seriously wonder about Al Gore’s
reflexive refrain about the “will of the people” and “every vote must
count.” A few more weeks of this and both candidates will be certified,
but only one will be as a president.
Which is why it is so disconcerting every time Al steps up to a
podium but doesn’t concede. The entire country is growing more
concerned, but not so much over his apparent grasp for the presidency.
They’re worried about his grasp on reality.
If anyone had any doubts about Mr. Gore’s ability to lead this nation
preceding this election, there should be no doubts now. And with every
day that Al keeps illuminating his true self, that rumbling that’s been
emitting across the country is sounding less like the portend of civil
strife and more like a collective sigh of relief over what might have