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 youd better tell your people to steer clear of Warren - when he stays up late, he gets cranky.Im only writing because you obviously cant handle talking to me on the phone. Honestly, Im 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. Its hardly presidential.
But thats no surprise, is it?
Youd better hope you lose this recount, Dubya. Now, I know what youre thinking - I must be dumber than a death penalty defense lawyer in Texas. You want this election like its Alaskan oil. But, lets 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, Ill go to court - youll have a weaker mandate than the student council president at Nashville High.
Im sure Dick Cheney and Papa and all the rest of your supporters have been telling you not to worry because John Kennedy didnt have a mandate either. He won in an election almost as close as this one, theyre telling you, with allegations of voting irregularities, just like this one.
And dont forget Woodrow Wilson, theyll 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.
Thats true, Dubya, but youre 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 youre a Kennedy or a Wilson, Dubya? I dont.
I dont think you have the vision. Instead, you substitute alliteration - Compassionate conservatism, and prosperity with a purpose.
What do those phrases mean, Dubya? You dont know. Theyre just jingles. Its like youre selling laundry detergent. What happens when you get to Washington and find out you cant make colors brighter and whites whiter?
Jingles dont get you very far in the White House. Trust me. You need to be able to make deals and forge agreements. Thats forge, not let it fall in your lap. When have you ever forged anything in your life?
OK, so forget vision. Youve got tradition, people say. Youve got presidential blood, just like John Quincy Adams. Think youre an Adams? I dont. 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 youll beat me in Florida when the recount is done and the absentee ballots have come in. Maybe youll take that as validation. But its 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 Naders 90,000 votes should have been mine. I was robbed! I invented Florida! Err, well, you know what I mean.
I hope Ralphs happy. Even though he didnt 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 dont 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 didnt have to be Florida, it could have been Pennsylvania or Michigan. I never thought Id hate to see votes matter so much.
So how does that feel, Dubya? If Florida sends you over the top, itll be by a razor-thin margin. Youll 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 couldnt figure out their ballots and because people voted for Ralph Nader, which means they think youve been bought.
Trust me, Dubya - if I lose this election, it wont be because youve won.
Robin Sloan, a State News undergraduate columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.