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Once upon a time, when the economy was good and the country was at
peace, America had a close presidential election. The vice president of
the United States was a leading candidate in the race. The first count
indicated he had lost. But there were questions about the count and
possible irregularities. The vice president was urged by the president
and members of Congress to contest the election. In fact, the president
offered to raise money for such
an effort.

What did the vice president do?

The vice president worried about the consequences of a contested
election. He realized that an election recount would take a long time.
The legitimacy of the next administration would also be put into
question. This could be devastating to America’s foreign policy.

“I could not subject the country to such a situation,” wrote Richard
M. Nixon in his memoirs. “And what if I demanded a recount and it
turned out that despite the vote fraud Kennedy had still won?”

It would not be the last time Nixon surrendered his hopes and dreams
for the good of the country. Almost 14 years later President Nixon
faced impeachment in the House of Representatives. The logic in that
situation, as well, was clear.

“There were strong arguments against resigning,” Nixon later
explained. “First and foremost, I was not and never had been a quitter.”

Resignation was worse than quitting, however. If he resigned, people
would see it as an admission of guilt. Worse yet, Nixon’s family and
closest supporters wanted him to fight and “would be hurt and
disillusioned” by resignation.

But Nixon resigned for the good of the country. “I knew that after
two years of being distracted by Watergate, the nation badly needed a
unity of spirit and purpose to face the tough domestic and international
problems that would not wait,” explained Nixon, who expected his Senate
trial would last six months.

Nixon also considered the benefits of his resignation to the
Republican Party. It would “free the party from having to defend me,”
he said.

Nixon resigned the presidency in August 1974. Whatever bad things
people might say about Richard Nixon, he put the country and his party
ahead of his personal hopes and ambitions.

If only we had such statesmanship today.

Bill Clinton faced impeachment less than two years ago and never
considered resigning for the good of the country. And now we have a
vice president involved in a close election; but this vice president,
instead of taking Nixon’s statesmanlike course, has decided to contest
the outcome.

Last Friday the country looked to the U.S. Supreme Court for a
resolution of the matter. But last Thursday Senator Joe Lieberman –
the vice president’s running mate — suggested that the U.S. Supreme
Court was irrelevant to the election outcome. Lieberman stated, “Our
feeling has been that ultimately the Florida Supreme Court would be the
final arbiter of this election. …”

While the supposedly evil and ambitious Richard Nixon gave up his
case for the good of the country, Gore and Lieberman will clutch at any
straw. It almost seems they are determined to tear the country apart if
necessary. And in this endeavor, standing directly behind them, is Bill
Clinton (who privately told reporters last week that Gore actually won
the election).

Meanwhile, as the U.S. becomes bogged down in a divisive domestic
tangle, the Russians have deployed TU-95 bombers to eastern Siberia,
opposite Alaska. In addition, many of Russia’s best warships are at
sea. At the same time a command and control facility for a U.S.
Minuteman missile division was destroyed by fire on Thursday.

The United States is a nuclear power with nuclear adversaries.
Already the Russian and Chinese people have been subjected to propaganda
about the evil nature of America’s “hegemonic” ambitions. Over the last
two years the North Korean communists have prepared their forces to
attack the South. In October the Chinese completed their largest
military exercises since 1964. Worse still, the Middle East is ready to
blow, the supply of oil is tight and U.S. markets are shakey.

How can the Democrats hold themselves up as patriots and statesmen
when the country needs a united and stable government? What is wrong
with these people?

One can only conclude, in retrospect, that the worst Republican
president was a prince when compared to Clinton and Gore. The ugly
process of a contested election should not continue.

Last week a retired Democratic senator, Dennis Deconcini, made an
interesting statement. He said that Gore and Lieberman should concede
the election for the sake of the country. “They have the right to do
what they’re doing,” he said. “But it’s best for the country if they
quit.”

Gore should not hesitate. He should follow Nixon’s example.

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