By John Derbyshire, NR contributing editor
ine days ago, when things were not looking good for George W. Bush I mean, the third or fourth time things were not looking good for him I was sitting round with a bunch of colleagues discussing what we thought the Bush campaign should do. I said I thought they should concede. I was the only one present who thought so. My opinion was instinctive; I could not justify it on the spot like many another writer, I think too slowly for live combat and the sense of the meeting was that Bush should fight on.
The grounds for my instinct were as follows.
I believe in the Republican party as the party of dignity, integrity, manliness, truth, courage, and pride. I did not want to see my party wrestling in the Florida mud with a bunch of slimy trial lawyers, say-anything Democrat carny barkers, and leftist-media airheads.
It's going to be a Herbert Hoover presidency anyway. You know: Long period of peace and prosperity under a do-nothing president (Coolidge/Clinton). President's party wins election with whiz-kid social engineer bearing armfuls of "plans" and "initiatives". Economy craters. Whiz-kid takes blame. Opposition wins next 5 elections.
Like most introverted, bookish people who never won a game of anything, I kind of like the idea of heroic failure.
"The worse, the better." Bush, if elected, could and temperamentally, would do little to move the country to the right. Al Gore, with the media, the courts, and the intelligentsia all cheering him on, could and would do a great deal to move it to the left. Perhaps the American people would at last be stirred to reaction by the spectacles that followed: leftist courts vacuuming up what is left of our ancient liberties on the pretense of improving our souls; capable officers fleeing the "loathed" military in tens of thousands for jobs with better pay and social standing in a Gore-ized America (shoeshine boys, gardeners); the remainder of the population of Central America a quarter of Dominicans are already here pouring across open borders in search of the nearest welfare office and voter-registration official; federally mandated quotas for the gender, racial, and "orientational" makeup of your local softball league; a wetlands preservation order on your goldfish pond; a quickie-abortion facility at your local high school; the Boy Scouts of America litigated into bankruptcy and handed over to NAMBLA by court order; trial lawyers everywhere triumphant, deciding everything, in their sissy tasseled loafers, slurping their filthy latte. (What the hell is latte?) At some point surely, surely, the American people will take their eyes away from Hollywood and Wall Street for long enough to notice what is being done to their Republic.
We failed to do what we had to do: Get a clear majority of Americans to vote for us. We got a razor-thin victory, and any such victory will be contested by the Democrats. Successfully, because they have all the lawyers, all the judges, all the celebrities, and all the media on their side. We can never win such a contest. We have to win votes unambiguously many of them. We didn't do that. We failed, and should suck it down like men.
So much for my instincts of nine days ago. Now I know that I was wrong. Watching the party hacks of the Florida state supreme court sneering and snarling at Republican counsel; then later reading their dishonest , lawless rationalizing of their uninvited intervention in the vote-certification process of that state; but above all watching Al Gore's speech right afterwards these things have caused the scales to fall from my eyes.
Did you watch that Gore speech? It was a mirror into the man's soul or would have been, if reptiles had souls. Didn't you get the impression throughout that Gore was having difficulty keeping his lip from curling in contempt for the gentlemanly amateurs he had out-lawyered and out-media-ed?
Here were the low, sly rhetorical tricks the cheap praeteritio, for example, of bringing up the fact that he won the popular vote nationwide only to aver with bogus restraint that he wasn't going to bring it up. Here were the unctuous calls to "tone down" the "name-calling". Excuse me, but "name-call" for "name-call", staged demo for staged demo, personal insult for personal insult, who have been the offenders here? There are two women on the Florida supreme court, one of them a hard-left activist and contributor to Democratic party funds. Did either have her techniques for applying facial make-up criticized in a major national broadsheet? Was either called "partisan" by the New York Times? Did I miss something here?
What really had me running for the barf-bag, though, was Gore's pious declaration that he would would not accept any vote-switching by Electoral College electors as a way of winning the presidency. Now that he feels he's got it sewn up, of course, he can be quite free with this high-sounding restraint. Yet who does not know that the whole Roto-Rooter crowd of private eyes and low-life dirt-diggers from the Clinton White House has been on secondment to the Gore campaign precisely for the purpose of gathering material with which electors could be bribed, blackmailed or intimidated? Who doubts that key Clinton-Gore operative Larry Flynt has had his orcs trawling the porn sites and whore-houses of America for associations with key electors? And who does not know that if, by some miracle of divine intervention into their theory-sodden brains, the Florida supreme court had decided to uphold Florida law instead of rewriting it, Gore would have said none of the things he said but maintained what his media mouthpieces (Brokaw, Rather) would have referred to as "a dignified silence"? While he dispatched another pack of Demo-rats to rummage through elector's garbage cans?
And in the background, sporting his best I-am-soooo-concerned-for-the-health-of-the-Republic brow-furrows was Joe Lieberman. We last saw Holy Joe on the Sunday talk shows, carrying out his latest instructions from God: to spin away the trashing of military votes ordered by his boss. All in a day's work for shar-pei-face Joe (hey, since we've already been accused of "name-calling", may as well get into it) who, in his lust for glory, has done a 180 on every matter of principle he ever uttered an opinion about. Oops, sorry, Microsoft Style Checker just kicked in with a flashing red warning: I used "Lieberman" and "principle" in the same paragraph.
Things to watch for in the days ahead: The sanctimonious condemnation of absolutely everything the Bush people do as "dragging the process out" the instant Gore's vote count pulls ahead. The media trumpeting that "We have a result at last!" that same instant. The arrival of Katherine Harris's audit notice from the IRS. Bill Clinton Bill Clinton! and Janet Reno J-A-N-E-T R-E-N-O!! urging the nation to respect the supremacy of the rule of law. The arrival of my audit notice from the IRS.
I was wrong, I was wrong. Like Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, I am a little late being moved to action, and it is surely a losing cause anyway, but I want to get off a couple of rounds at the enemy before they drag me away to that re-education camp. Yes, it's political war, as my colleagues rightly said, and you don't win wars without fighting. "For all we have and are / For all our childrens' sake / Stand up and take the war! / The Hun is at the gate!" I hereby stand up. I urge the Bush people to fight, by whatever means come to hand; and in the improbable event there is anything I can do to help, National Review has my phone number. Let's get down in the dirt with these vermin. Let's do some name-calling; let's organize some street theater; let's hire some private dicks and upturn some garbage cans. Will someone please introduce Florida state supreme court justice Barbara Pariente to a hairdresser? One who is not vision-impaired?
And when at last all the combined forces of our smug, smirking, pandering, guilt-addled, money-padded, lawyered-up Establishment are too much for us and our man has to concede, let him concede in anger and in silence for, after all, this election has been stolen by foul means. Let him send out the lowest-ranking member of his staff to say: "Gov. Bush concedes the election to Al Gore", then walk away from the podium taking no questions. Let the governor then maintain silence, absolute silence on the matter for about, oh, four years, and go about his gubernatorial duties with a cheerful face and a proud dignity. And let the legislatures of Tallahassee and Washington do their duty under their sworn oaths of office, to uphold the Constitution, and rein in the loathsome judicial despotism that is dragging this nation down to perdition, advancing the cause of liars and thieves, and stealing our elections. Stand up and take the war! The Hun is at the gate!