»  National Review Online

November 30th, 2000

   Wormwood and Gall


It's been a week since Thanksgiving. Why is the turkey still strutting around?

Yeah, yeah, I know: I'm gloating. It's unseemly. It's ill-mannered. It's, it's — what's the expression I am searching for? The mot juste? Oh, yes, of course: it's MEAN-SPIRITED.

Well, the hell with all that, I say. We're conservatives: we're supposed to be mean-spirited. And how often so we get a chance to gloat, anyway? God knows, the opposition have done their share of it. Did you know that lead impeacher Jim Rogan lost his House seat? If you go within a mile of any lefty web site, you'll know it. Down in Glendale (Rogan's constituency) the lefties have the bunting out. The street parties, I hear, have been going on for 3 weeks. Well, if they can gloat, I can gloat.

My gloating is also, my Republican friends tell me, premature. Republican brows are still furrowed — in fact, if I am not mistaken, getting furroweder. These guys are escape artists, my GOP friends are whispering to me. They've got more lawsuits going than we can keep track of, and the judges are all pals with the trial lawyers, who are all Democrats. It's only going to take one of those lefty judges to open a crack that Gore can slip a couple of attorneys through, and we're scuppered. This is what I am hearing from worried colleagues and readers. Yes, we won fair and square and it's been lawfully certified. But a lot can still go wrong. Watch out for that case in Seminole County! 4,797 Bush votes at stake! Black judge! Could upturn the whole election!

Well, the hell with all that, too. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I say Al is toast. Look, I am not a fool. I know just as well as you do that the Establishment (the lawyers and judges, the media, Hollywood, the intelligentsia, the bureaucrat unions and race hustlers and shirt-lifter lobbies) are desperate to get Gore into the White House, and will do what they can. They know, however, that they have to tread carefully.

The Establishment are not fools, either. They know the Constitution and they know the facts of political life. One of which is this: we have separation of powers in this nation. And when one of the three separated powers starts to get delusions of supremacy, the other two can, and will, smack it down. Yes, it's those guys in the black robes I'm talking about. They know they can only go so far. They overhear some of the things we say out here in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. They are quite familiar with the phrase "judicial despotism," and they have a pretty clear idea what will happen to their power, their dignity, and probably some of their jobs, if that phrase ever leaks out of the conservative magazines and web sites to the public at large.

Seminole County? Yes, a black female Democrat judge is in charge of a case that could wipe out 4,797 Bush votes. And that judge has good cause to bear a grudge against the Bushes: she was passed over by Florida Governor Jeb Bush just this September for a seat on the 1st District Court of Appeal. So she might very well rule to wipe out those 4,797 votes, mighn't she?

Well, she might. But if she does, she will pile one more rock on the growing perception that liberal judges are trying to hijack the political process. The fact of her being black will not help. To a lot of Americans, fairly or unfairly, "black" is more or less a synonym for "liberal." Not only does America not need these kinds of perceptions even more entrenched than they currently are, the Democrats in particular do not need it.

I believe Democrats know this. They are ugly, but they ain't stupid. Just because you have a set of black robes, that doesn't mean you don't read the papers — and the polls. Yes: if they can find a way to help their boy, they'll help him. But they know they can't be seen to be too obvious about it.

Case in point: the Florida Supremes. Remember how eagerly they jumped in — without even being asked! — to save Gore's buffed, rouged hide ten days ago? Remember how they rewrote Florida law on the fly to give his pals on the canvassing boards a shot at manufacturing a few hundred more votes for him? And then they read their press. And then Bush took it to the Big Supremes up in D.C. And the Big Supremes said: Yes, we'll rule on this one. Which they wouldn't have said if they wanted to stomp on Bush, because they could have done that perfectly well just by declining to hear his case. So what happened the next time Gore's lawyers went in front of the Florida Supremes? They got their heads pushed down the bowl and the chain pulled, that's what.

So I say it's over. Only the judges can do what needs to be done, and they're not going to do it — not if they have any concern for their present power and prestige, which they surely do. It's over, all over. Game, set and match. Go home, Al. Suck it down, the wormwood and gall, and go home.

Oh, I understand how badly you'll take it. I feel your pain. I understand your sense of entitlement. You were, of course, entitled to have a Dad with grand ambitions for you. You were entitled to an upbringing in a posh Washington hotel, being waited on by obsequious flunkeys. You were entitled to the exclusive schools and the courses at prestige colleges (which you never managed to finish … but hey, you were entitled to drop out). You were entitled to the photo-op quickie "tour of duty" in Vietnam, mincing around for a few weeks in that well-ironed babe-magnet uniform behind a screen of minders, while working-class boys were getting their arms and legs blown off on patrol in the jungle. You were entitled to your Senate seat (but don't try to get it back — the good people of Tennessee would eat dung before they elected you to anything ever again).

You were entitled to be tapped as running mate by a crooked New Class governor with a shady past, when he needed some Old Class gravitas to make himself look respectable. You were entitled to stand by that thief, liar and rapist when he was caught committing perjury before a grand jury — yes, you were entitled to go on TV afterwards and call him "one of America's greatest presidents" before an incredulous nation. You were entitled to run for the office yourself, with a sheaf of promises nobody believed, with your bully-boys out there scaring blacks and old folk with stories of a Republican reign of terror, then herding to the polls even those too bewildered to punch a hole in a card next to your name. Oh, you have a powerful sense of entitlement, Al. We all understand that. But — try to get your mind around this concept, 'cause it's a tough one — you are not entitled to be president.

It's over, Al. Go home. Take a cab. Heck, you can still expense it to the government.