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Finally, A Statesman!

By Brian “Kingfish” Trascher
kingfish@politicalusa.com

12/14/2000

            Listen to PUSA columnist Brian "Kingfish" Trascher on WLAC 1510 AM from Nashville on Friday morning at 8:45am EST, 7:45am CST and 5:45 PST  
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          One could almost hear America  breathe a huge, though uncomfortable, sigh of relief as it was announced that our long, national nightmare was over.  Though not all Americans were pleased with the outcome, it is safe to say that most were ready to welcome the long-overdue finality with open arms.  Al Gore emerged into the old Executive Office Building with a face only to be rivaled at a funeral.  All of the pundits had played the guessing game all day trying to anticipate every little tone of his speech and even going so far as to guess whether or not the defeated presidential candidate would use the word “concede.”  Gore immediately acknowledged Bush the victor and began referring to him as “president-elect.”  He spoke of a nation where “that which unites us is greater than that which divides us,” and called on his supporters to back Governor Bush as the 43rd President of the United States.  Much to the surprise of his critics, he did in his own way call on those who intended to continue on with protests to disband and join him in backing Bush.   It was exactly the kind of gracious, statesman-like concession speech that the Bush campaign had to have hoped for.

            Gore clearly had a decision to make tonight.  Did he want to continue with the harsh, post-election day rhetoric by making a speech that was bitter in tone and non-conciliatory in spirit, or did he want to emerge as the new titular head of the Democratic Party and the possible front-runner for the nomination in four years?  Obviously he chose the latter and will probably fare better for it.  To those that had supported him all along he probably increased their loyalty by making them proud of what seemed to be a worthy fight.  To those that have opposed him, at the very least he earned a respect that he had not previously had a remote chance of acquiring.  Many thought that Gore’s convention acceptance speech would be the most significant of his life, and many critics argue that he was not equal to the task, thank God for the kiss!  It is clear that tonight’s concession speech was the most significant at least so far in his life, and it will be hard for anyone to say that he looked anything less than a statesman.

            George W. Bush’s speech was masterfully choreographed complete with props and special effects.  The most important theme that could have come out of his comments was that of a spirit of bi-partisanship and inclusion, and it could not have been pulled off better by a Hollywood movie crew.  The scene, the Democratic-controlled Texas Statehouse.  Bush ascended to the podium in a rousing outburst of an ovation from the chamber in which he had been so successful in bringing partisans together.  He was given a warm introduction by the Democratic Speaker of the House as he and the future first lady of America made their way into the room.  He delivered what will probably be referred to as a warm-up State of the Union Address, and will probably be given high marks for it’s tone if the liberal press decides to be fair for once.  He pointed out that Republicans as well as Democrats want what’s best for the country, and that a President needs serve all people, not just the ones that voted for him. 

            Bush will really have his work cut out for him in the years to come.  He campaigned on his ability to be able to reach across party lines to get things done, and to tame partisan bickering for the good of the people.  With a slim Republican lead in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, his ability to lead will be out to the ultimate test.  The biggest lesson learned in the past election, though the most under-reported, is that of the mandate set by the America people.  Many have been quick to say that the razor-thin margin of votes would suggest too much division for a mandate, but is that true?  Perhaps all of the bickering between the Clinton White House and the Republican Congress, from the government shutdown to the impeachment, was simply too much for Americans to handle.  Maybe the real mandate is that the voters now demand that the two parties get along and work out their differences for the good of the nation, or else may be all of them will find themselves on the street in the next election year.

© Brian Trascher, 2000

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