I don’t know about you, but on Wednesday night, I heard and saw two
long-awaited speeches on television. The country, if not the world was
waiting for those two men to speak. They were OK.
George W. and Al. The two guys who would be king — oops, president.
Sorry. It’ll take a while to get over the Clinton syndrome. After all,
Al did think he was heir apparent, and so did the Democrats. That’s why
he got the nomination.
But he blew it, and while he’s getting the sympathy vote and the
velvet glove treatment from the media, there are those in party ranks
who are mightily miffed that he lost and especially the way he handled
the losing of it.
Just how do you lose an election coming out of a two-term ride with a
popular president, a spectacular economy and relative peace? Of course,
it’s hard to explain those pesky incidents like the war in Yugoslavia,
the terrorist bombing of one of our war ships and the general sell-out
to the Chinese. But who’s asking for explanations?
I don’t think they’ll write a book about it, but if someone did it
would outline just how Al Gore took the golden egg and dropped it so it
broke in a million pieces just like Humpty Dumpty.
Despite all the scrambling, it was impossible to get it together
again, and so, finally, inevitably, unavoidably, inexorably, he (as the
media dutifully tells us) decided to get out of the race? Get out of
Like he had a choice? Al, you lost. When you lose something, you
are out of the race; but then Al uses the Clinton playbook. It’s
blank because there are no rules.
So with lots of people and lights and cameras and media coverage,
they spoke. First, Al Gore in Washington. Despite the words and vocal
phrasing, it added up to: I lost, you won, my life goes on, good luck
and God bless America, but, p.s., I still don’t agree with the court.
George W. was next. He was in Texas, in familiar surroundings with
friendly faces. Lots of cameras and lights, voice inflections and warm
looks. His speech was essentially: I won, you lost, let’s be friends and
by the way, everything I said needed doing in my campaign speeches still
needs doing and I’ll do it. And God bless America.
Has anyone noticed that it is impossible for a politician to speak to
the country without ending it with the “God bless America” line? You’d
think their speech writers could come up with something more believable
to come from the lips of some of these characters. Considering some of
the people who use the phrase, you’d think they might harbor even the
slightest fear of a sudden bolt of lightening — a slight hint that God
might not like being ordered about as a gimmick in a political speech.
Speaking of God. Let’s talk a bit about the media. I saw the
speeches on MSNBC and Gore couldn’t have had a warmer audience.
Spoutmeister Chris Matthews was first to be asked his reaction and I
will tell you, I didn’t believe what I heard him say. I still don’t.
Listen to this. The man with the motor mouth was literally
speechless, grasping for words, overwhelmed, and near tears,
pausing and gulping!
When he pulled himself together and told us he was “totally
unprepared” for this, how did he describe it? Hold on now: it was
“sacramental,” “majestic,” “a covenant,” “fantastic,” “direct, clean,”
Slobbering on, Matthews said it was (ready now) an “immaculate
conception” but then corrected himself to say an “immaculate
concession.” Further, he spoke of Gore’s “sublime masculinity.” He
went on to say “no one writes this good.”
Clearly Chris needs a long rest in a quiet room and should work just
a little bit harder to hide his partisanship.
Al Gore’s speech was good, aimed to smooth things a bit and enable
the country to move on. But there was an edge; he didn’t like the court
decision and he didn’t finish the work he wanted to do. Sounds to me
like we’ll soon be saying, “he’s b-a-a-a-c-c-c-k!” Then again, he may
never leave and if the media fawning over him and his speech are any
indication, he won’t. Leave, that is.
Poor George W. Bush. A likeable guy who ran Texas well and got along
with both parties now faces the biggest challenge of his life. We’re
told he surrounds himself with good people. He’d better because the big
guns on the other side and in the media are in place and aimed right at
him. He’s already being told how to fill the cabinet and committees;
he’s being told to “share” power by people who wouldn’t do that on a
bet. But liberals always claim the moral high ground. I guess they
figure if they can order God around, telling the opposition president
what to do is hardly a challenge. The real test is how Dubya handles
it. Here’s hoping. Remember the Alamo!