By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
"I dont make jokes, I just watch the government and report
the facts." Will Rogers
Not another column on the Presidential election . . . it keeps going
and going and going! And sadly, there is no end in sight. And this Democrat, writing this
column, is trying not to take sides.
Sure, I prefer Al Gore to George W. Bush. But Id prefer a whole
lot of other folks to either of them. This was never an election determining which is the
better person. This was an election of who we didnt dislike more. Got that?
I voted against George W.
Gee . . . I just didnt want to imagine a man of his intellect in
the White House. Sure, I preferred Gores political leaning; and certainly my fear of
what Bush-appointed Supreme Court Judges would do to the future of our country and issues
like abortion influenced me; but the real issue to me was that George W. was not up to the
I certainly wasnt pro-Gore. Im not sure hes up to the
task either. I preferred him. I even met him had lunch with him and 100 of his
closest friends on Long Island. My good friend Robert Zimmerman is in tight with Gore and
his people and certainly my friend Gary Ackerman stood to have better access to the White
House. But, Al Gore didnt turn me on . . . I wasnt impressed with him. This
guy told stories like we did when we were in third grade. Sure, you could call them
exaggerations. But Mrs. Mottleson, my third grade teacher, called them lies.
However, Im not here to Gore bash I voted for him. I just
wanted to make the point that neither candidate won half the vote. It was the country
casting half (actually more than half) the votes against each candidate. I rejected Bush
and therefore voted Gore. I cant believe that was not the motivation of most of the
Democratic voters. Likewise, I dont believe that the Republican voters were marching
to the tune of George W. Bush. They were rejecting Al Gore.
So, the nation voted against, not for, a Presidential candidate.
Its a pretty sad commentary on our system. Isnt it?
I was able to pull the lever for Bill Clinton with pride
twice, in spite of his personal indiscretions. I voted for him. I assume Bob Dole and in
92, George Bush (the father) got their votes in the affirmative from people who
believed in them.
Now, this time, most of us voted in the negative.
POLARIZING THE NATION
Are we likely to be more fanatic when we vote against someone than when
we vote for someone?
Im not sure. But it seems that this nation is more polarized over
this election than they should be. And those "observers" in Florida are fueling
the fires. You hear party member after party member stand up and blindly recite the party
line on both sides. The Republicans have imported elected officials from across the
nation and they all mimic the same arguments. The Dems have done the same although, trying
to be objective, not to as great an extent.
Isnt there a Democratic elected official that thinks the count
and recount were sufficient, that the Florida Supreme Court overstepped its bounds, that
overseas military ballots should be revisited, that George W. won, and it is over?
Isnt there a Republican elected official that thinks that
Miami-Dade numbers are critical to a fair count (certainly that 150+ Gore differential
that were hand counted should be included), that more time is needed to complete the
recount, that the butterfly ballot clearly cost Al Gore votes, that the will of the
Florida voters was to elect Al Gore and he is the legitimate winner?
Isnt there just one honest politician who can say: I disagree
with my party, the other guy is the winner? Or perhaps, say, like many of us feel:
its just too close to tell; the Florida vote counting is imperfect and the election
too close; let us seek a fair means to determine the outcome?
Isnt there a fair voice in the country?
Here we go and howdy do
Its Georgie Dubya a comin through,
Declaring victory, Al step aside,
All you Dems better run and hide.
Katherine Harris maiden fair,
Stood right up and did declare,
Bush the winner fair and square,
Shes got a rep beyond compare.
Cause the ballots were counted and all in,
At least enough so Bush would win,
Shut it down before they add Palm Beach,
Be sure Miami Dade is out of reach.
Check your total, climb that ladder,
Bush has enough the rest dont matter.
And all the while the GOP,
Celebrates its victory.
Prepare the transition, dont be swayed,
Dont let them count Miami Dade.
Florida Law about a contested election,
Doesnt merit the slightest reflection.
Ignore the courts and what they might say,
Dont count more votes, youve won today.
But Mr. Bush youve chosen the path
Elected the President of fuzzy math!
WIN AT ALL COST
Cmon, this has become a win
Not, win fair-and-square.
The Republicans are threatening to have the
Florida legislature pick the next President. Maybe Congress will get into the mix.
Lets take the Presidency by hook or by sneak. Well dictate the will of the
people if our guy doesnt win.
The Dems are no better. Gore is not ready
to concede. Hell never be. In his heart he knows he won. And if the votes dont
add up to back this, hell just keep finding another legal challenge. Maybe you can
play the game and prevent the Florida electors from being seated. Then, perhaps
theyll take a majority of the remaining electors and Gore would win. There must be a
way. Gore aint conceding.
Neither will Bush. If the count were against him, hed seek a
court that wouldnt be.
As I write this Sunday, the vote differential in Florida is about
400ish in favor of Bush. The Palm Beach County recount is still going and they asked for
an extension which theyll never get. The Bush camp has sued five counties to
revisit the overseas military ballots. And Miami-Dade abandoned their recount several days
Bush has a case pending in US Supreme and Gore is ready to
"contest" the count as provided by Florida state law. I guess I cant blame
The facts will change between this writing and your reading but, sadly,
I think the resolution will still not be in sight.
As the process continues, the national figures continue to incite
passions in a process that should instead be calmly heard, on its merits, in the courts.
George Pataki, Al Sharpton, Bob Dole and batches of other prominent
figures just keep adding fuel to a very painful divisive fire.
Why arent Bush and Gore asking everyone to remain calm and quiet
until the process runs its course. No, their camps are organizing demonstrations and
They are waging war: on legal and public relations fronts.
These guys and their people just dont care about anything but
winning. Was that what our Founding Fathers had in mind?
Did they really want everyone to play like Katherine Harris, who wears
partisanship on an official governmental uniform with pride? If Bush wins and this
politicrat gets a big job in the administration, look out.
Thank goodness Christopher and Baker have, for the moment, gone away.
Somehow the partisan members of the Broward County canvassing board
conducted their job with some honor. The Republican and two Democrats functioned together
following agreed upon guidelines. The folks from Palm Beach County also seemed reasonable.
Why cant the big boys be?
Maybe theyre not so big.
Perhaps it takes bigger people than Al Gore and George Bush to
understand that the nation needs to let the process run its course, the courts make
decisions, the rules be followed and a winner declared.
Personally, Id like to see every vote (in Florida) including
military overseas votes, recounted by the local officials under public (television)
scrutiny according to objective court-set standards and allowing for the greatest latitude
to make sure people are not disenfranchised. Then the results announced and a winner
declared. Ill accept it, even if its that babbling guy from Texas.
Too bad they havent invented a way to project subliminible
(thanx, Dubya) messages in newspapers. Then it would be easy for me to wrap up this column
and the election.
Supreme Court Justice
by way of Queens
THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
Its to the Supreme Court on Friday.
This most august (now theres a November word) body will be the
center of focus for world attention as they hear, on Friday and decide over the next
several days, the issues that may ultimately give us our next President.
Im surprised to see them messing in Florida election law.
However, I believe their role is important to help bring closure to a chaotic though brief
period in our nations history.
I dont believe their involvement will be great. The Florida
Supreme Court will likely see the case(s) back in their hands.
However, while the Supreme Court is center stage, we should note
briefly that one of the Supreme Court Justices spent his formative years in Queens.
Antonin Scalia, born on March 11, 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey, was the
only child of Italian immigrants. His father worked as a professor of Romance languages
and his mother taught school. Scalias father accepted a job at Brooklyn College and
at age five, he and his family moved to Queens.
Called "Nino" by friends and family, Scalia first attended
public school in Queens but later enrolled in St. Francis Xavier, a military prep school
in Manhattan. He was valedictorian at Georgetown University and then went to Harvard Law
School where he served as editor of the Harvard Law Review and met and and later married
Maureen McCarthy, a student at nearby Radcliffe. They have eight children.
He briefly worked in commercial law and went on to a distinguished
career of government service and teacher of law. He was nominated by President Reagan to
the U. S. Court of Appeals in 1982 and then as Associate Justice of the United States
Supreme Court. The Queens kid took the oath of office on September 26, 1986.
Now on Friday he gets a chance to either prolong the agony of selecting
a President or help to bring finality to the process.
GIMME A BREAK
For my part, this whole thing is out of hand. The sides have become
mean-spirited and vicious. I avoid pointing fingers at the Republicans because maybe
Im not being objective. Id like to see the two sides work to come up with a
fair mechanism to determine the winner and stop posturing to the camera and appealing to
the worst in each of us.
Neither side is wrong. Neither side is right. This election was just
too close. Only: George W. had a brother who had a state; e, i, e, i, o. . .
Our vote counting system is less than perfect so will our
President be. There is no perfect way to determine who was the real winner. The system
probably the Florida courts will ultimately guide us to an official winner.
And whichever of these guys gets the nod, he (with his inner circle of advisors) has done
considerable damage to himself and his presidency.
Last week, I ended my column by saying:
At the end of the day after youve read this column . .
. and next weeks column, too all the votes will be tabulated.
And then, by a number of votes no greater than the number of your
fingers and toes, a winner will be announced. The name of the next President of the United
States will be a four-letter word. And the other side will gripe and play "what might
And the nation will go on and prosper. And very little will change.
God Bless America.
Sadly, I have nothing to add.