The apples of theoretical democratic perfection got locked in a struggle to the death with the oranges of constitutional process (the equal protection clause and Article II of the Constitution).
So it ends in moral, political and legal stalemate resolved by a sliver in the U.S. Supreme Court. I could argue the Gore case with perfect coherence and logic; I could argue the Bush case with equal coherence and logic.
You can debate the election of 2000 either way. Recreational argument is aerobic, good for the heart and lungs. But I am going to try not to argue this election at all, at least for awhile.
For one thing, the country is as sick of the subject as a mother who has delivered after a fourteen-month pregnancy. For another, the argument always ruins the evening. This election has fermented into a sort of darkening inebriant that makes people ugly. I find myself going on a toxic tear and firing off lines of crackpot dudgeon pure postelectoral rant.
Let us practice serenity. Let us study acceptance. Don't demonize, don't gloat. This abundant democracy tolerates all manner of idiocy and license; now isn't the time for those. God knows the next four years will witness an institutionalized vindictiveness sufficient to make the incumbent wish he were back in Austin.
I offer herewith a list of safe topics, any of which you may introduce at water cooler or dinner party whenever the conversation veers dangerously toward Bush, Gore, and dimples:
- Say, what's up these days with Puffy and Jennifer?
- The people at Philip Morris: Are they REALLY making a difference?
- Does Elian belong with his father in Cuba or with the Miami relatives?
- In retrospect, was Ginger Spice's behavior inevitable?
- Do you think we ought to admit Red China to the United Nations?
- Did Oswald act alone?
- Why do you think Nixon didn't burn the tapes?
- Was Ronald Reagan a moron or a visionary?
- Do earth tones really signify the Alpha male? Why, exactly?
- Did Roosevelt know in advance about Pearl Harbor?
- You think those Sacco and Vanzetti guys got what they deserved?
- Did John F. Kennedy in the White House take his orders directly from the Pope of Rome?
- Would you say that Bill Clinton's roadless lands initiative unwisely ignores foresters' concerns about fuel load buildup and other issues of sound forest management?
- With Billy Crystal out, should Whoopi Goldberg be given another shot at the Academy Awards if she promises not to do kakaweewee jokes?
- Is it sexist for a man to open a car door for a woman?
- Would it have been a good idea for America to use tactical nuclear weapons to rescue the French garrison at Dienbienphu?
- What will Bill Clinton do after he leaves the White House? Is that marriage going to last, or will she divorce him as soon as she gets into the Senate?
- My daughter has been dating a baseball player named John Rocker, and she says they're real serious. Is this a good idea?