Imagine that the events last week in Miami had been reversed. A canvassing board counting votes likely to make George W. Bush the next president is besieged by a crowd of Democratic operatives. A Democratic congressman nearby tells his aide to "shut it down," whereupon the throng begins to scream " Cheaters!" and "Fraud!," pounds on the door of the room to which the counters have retreated, and lets it be known that some 1,000 reinforcements, incited by racial appeals on a local radio station, will soon arrive on the scene.
The horror. That seems to be most pundits' verdict on this post-campaign campaign. Both candidates, sober-minded observers agree, have behaved terribly, trying to twist and mangle the law to their own selfish ends. "Al Gore and George W. Bush," admonished The Boston Globe, "should, for once, start acting like statesmen." And then there's Florida's sorry excuse for election law. "I mean, Florida election law," griped CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen, "if [there's] nothing else we can agree on, we can agree that it was just absolutely a disaster." Actually, we can't, and we shouldn't.
It is January 5, 2001. The state of Florida has submitted two slates of electors to Congress, one for George W. Bush and one for Al Gore. To decide which to accept, Congress has appointed an electoral commission, composed of five senators, five representatives, and five Supreme Court justices. The commission is divided evenly along party lines, and the fate of the nation hangs on the mystical deliberations of the only undecided member, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
With the Florida recount ongoing, it looks as if George W. Bush may win the presidency yet. If so, the great consolation of this Tuesday's balloting may be that it has rid us forever of the noxious presence of Ralph Nader. Indeed, the only element of the campaign more discomfiting than Nader himself has been the spectacle of liberal intellectuals obsequiously slathering praise upon the Green Party candidate in an effort to sweet-talk him into abandoning his candidacy.
WHEN THE DUST clears on November 7, history will record a handful of lasting images from this year's election: A1 Gore's convention kiss, George W. Bush's proctological epithet about a New York Times reporter, the word "rats" flashing momentarily across a TV screen, and, well, Michael Beschloss.In the last few months, the well-coiffed historian turned commentator has become a virtual one-man news cycle, appearing on the tube some 40 times since the Republican convention. It's not hard to see why.
The Warren Court and American Politics by Lucas A. Powe, Jr. (Harvard University Press, 600 pp., $35) The presidential campaign this year, the discussions of the Supreme Court have followed a familiar script. The Republican candidate has promised to appoint "strict constructionist" judges who will interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench.
Is the phrase "Dingell-Norwood" as intrinsically funny as, say, "Buttafuoco"? Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts seem to think so. On ABC's "This Week," the pair yukked it up over Al Gore's charge in the final presidential debate that George W. Bush doesn't support the "Dingell-Norwood bill." Dingell-Norwood is an HMO-reform bill currently before Congress, and Gore's reference to it by its proper name struck ABC's Sunday-morning twosome as hysterical.
St. Louis, Missouri--The third presidential debate has just ended, and the 36 undecided voters gathered at the studios of ketc Channel 9 are ready for their close-ups. These undecideds--twelve leaning toward Al Gore, twelve toward George W. Bush, and twelve staunchly neutral--have been invited by Republican pollster Frank Luntz and msnbc to give their verdicts (broadcast live across America) on the two candidates' performances. Before the cameras start rolling, Luntz does some last-minute pre-interviewing.
As its new term began this week, the Supreme Court heard two cases involving the boundaries of privacy in an increasingly transparent society; later in the term, it will hear at least one more. The constitutional question in all three cases is whether the government needs to have individualized suspicion before it can conduct searches using relatively unintrusive, extremely effective technologies-- thermal-imaging devices that can detect heat emitting through house walls, for example, or random checkpoints with drug-sniffing dogs.
Olympic Opening Ceremonies are, by their nature, kitschy. And last week's four-and-a-half-hour extravaganza in Sydney--complete with a "lawn-mower ballet" and children costumed as flowers--proved no exception. But this particular halftime show, according to Olympics boosters, held deeper significance. That's because, for the first time since North Korea and South Korea went to war in 1950, the two countries' Olympic delegations marched together under the single banner of Korea.