Thursday, November 26, 2020

Memo from Gore: Bush is still no winner

TO: Texas Gov. George W. Bush

FROM: Vice President Al Gore

Hey there, Dubya. Hope all is well in Austin. My people have run into your people down in Florida. I told ’em not to raise too much of a ruckus, but you’d better tell your people to steer clear of Warren - when he stays up late, he gets cranky.I’m only writing because you obviously can’t handle talking to me on the phone. Honestly, I’m still shocked at the way you spoke to me Wednesday morning when I called to retract my concession! There was no reason to get snippy like that. It’s hardly presidential.

But that’s no surprise, is it?

You’d better hope you lose this recount, Dubya. Now, I know what you’re thinking - I must be dumber than a death penalty defense lawyer in Texas. You want this election like it’s Alaskan oil. But, let’s be honest. You know as well as I do that if, after losing the popular vote (thank you, California), you win the Electoral College through litigation - and make no mistake about, I’ll go to court - you’ll have a weaker mandate than the student council president at Nashville High.

I’m sure Dick Cheney and Papa and all the rest of your supporters have been telling you not to worry because John Kennedy didn’t have a mandate either. He won in an election almost as close as this one, they’re telling you, with allegations of voting “irregularities,” just like this one.

And don’t forget Woodrow Wilson, they’ll remind you. Wilson won the Electoral College but had only 42 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race. Kennedy and Wilson, they did all right.

That’s true, Dubya, but you’re not like them. Kennedy was brilliant: a senator and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a penetrating grasp of history. Wilson was a governor, just like you, but he was also a university president. Think you’re a Kennedy or a Wilson, Dubya? I don’t.

I don’t think you have the vision. Instead, you substitute alliteration - “Compassionate conservatism,” and “prosperity with a purpose.”

What do those phrases mean, Dubya? You don’t know. They’re just jingles. It’s like you’re selling laundry detergent. What happens when you get to Washington and find out you can’t make colors brighter and whites whiter?

Jingles don’t get you very far in the White House. Trust me. You need to be able to make deals and forge agreements. That’s “forge,” not “let it fall in your lap.” When have you ever forged anything in your life?

OK, so forget vision. You’ve got tradition, people say. You’ve got presidential blood, just like John Quincy Adams. Think you’re an Adams? I don’t. After his term as president, Adams ran for Congress and served there for 17 years, until he was 80 years old. He finally collapsed on the House floor. Would you collapse on the House floor, Dubya, wrapped up in the work of the nation? Do you have the blood for that?

Maybe you’ll beat me in Florida when the recount is done and the absentee ballots have come in. Maybe you’ll take that as validation. But it’s like we say in Tennessee: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Believe me, Dubya, 3,000 people did not vote for Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach County. There were mistakes made, mistakes that mitigated the will of the people. And of course, half of Ralph Nader’s 90,000 votes should have been mine. I was robbed! I invented Florida! Err, well, you know what I mean.

I hope Ralph’s happy. Even though he didn’t get his five percent, he succeeded on another level. You see, Ralph went around the country telling people that, because of the way you and I run our campaigns, their votes don’t matter as much anymore. And yet, because of his influence, they did. With Ralph chipping away at my liberal base, it was bound to come down to a few hundred votes somewhere. It didn’t have to be Florida, it could have been Pennsylvania or Michigan. I never thought I’d hate to see votes matter so much.

So how does that feel, Dubya? If Florida sends you over the top, it’ll be by a razor-thin margin. You’ll go into office as the least prepared president ever. You will have been elected because people thought your jingles sounded nice, because some retirees in Florida couldn’t figure out their ballots and because people voted for Ralph Nader, which means they think you’ve been bought.

Trust me, Dubya - if I lose this election, it won’t be because you’ve won.

Robin Sloan, a State News undergraduate columnist, can be reached at sloanro1@msu.edu.

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