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A Time for Statesmanship

Amid a frenzy of "spin" and talk of a constitutional crisis, politicians, media and others must calm down for the sake of the nation.

November 12, 2000

If ever there was a week for the nation to step back, take a deep breath and then exhale, this was it.

The television news shows and cable channels minutely followed every twist of the presidential election saga, a thriller unprecedented in modern times. The political surrogates from both campaigns--chiefly former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley for Democrat Al Gore and a more numerous cast for Republican George W. Bush--filled the airways with spin. Even the term "constitutional crisis" has been uttered. That kind of talk is hooey. What the political escalation does risk is turning the voters off again, losing all the belief and interest in the process gained during this incredible election.

Yes, each side has legitimate complaints, but statesmanship requires that the argument end long before the last lawyer sings.

Gore no doubt truly believes that he would have carried Florida except for the confusion over poorly designed ballots in Palm Beach County. He's almost certainly right, and Bush's move to proceed with a transition process has no doubt hardened Gore's resolve. But bad design and voter confusion do not add up to fraud, and the truth is that nationwide this was a very clean election, compared with both America's history and most of the globe today.

In 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy won by a mere 118,000 popular votes. He was smart enough to see he could claim no mandate. One of the things he did, besides moving very cautiously legislatively, was to appoint two Republicans to key Cabinet posts.

The Florida popular vote is to be certified Tuesday. The overseas ballots will be counted Friday. The statesmanship test of Gore and Bush will then be on display for the world to see.

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