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Jewish World Review March 11, 2004 / 18 Adar, 5764

Betsy Hart

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Never again! | Now that it's officially a George W. Bush-vs.-John Kerry presidential race, I hold one overwhelming, all-important hope: Whatever happens on election night, please, please, just let it happen on election night. I cannot live through another "election month" like we did in 2000.

It was way too stressful.

Is it possible to be comatose and hysterical at the same time? That's what I experienced watching Florida go back and forth from a "win" for Al Gore to a "win" for Bush and so on like a pingpong ball in those early-morning hours. I stayed up until around 2 a.m. my time, when the election was "called" for Bush.

Sheeesh, he won by only some 20,000 votes in Florida — I thought, "That was close!!"

I had no idea what we were in for.

The next morning, I awoke around 7. I remember literally not wanting to turn the television on. I didn't exactly have a sense of dread; I just thought, why mess with what had, finally, ended on a high note? At last the TV went on — and for the next month, my life hit the "pause" button.

At the time, I was about eight weeks' pregnant with baby number 4.

The stress that little one endured in the womb was probably more than anybody should be asked to shoulder.

So far, she seems fine. Though, she is awfully interested in political commercials for someone her age.

Anyway, for days, I remained so obsessed about watching election results that nothing got done. My husband and I had a dear friend staying with us at the time. The poor guy didn't get fed. Fortunately, he was as obsessed as we were, so he didn't much care. We spent hours crowded together on the family-room sofa, watching the TV and analyzing all the latest political spin. We called watching the "election night" those first few days "being at our station."

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We would be at our station for hours at a time.

I had to fly cross-country about 10 days or so after the election, when an important decision from a Florida judge was being eagerly awaited.

That was in the days when pilots could walk around the plane. So, I struck up a conversation with the pilot and asked if he wouldn't mind checking in with ground control and sharing any news he might get about the judge's decision. He looked at me like I was completely out of my mind.

"But, um," I stammered, "sometimes you guys share sports scores with the passengers. ..." He said, "Well, yes, but that's sports!" A "duh" was clearly implied.

OK, this guy was not spending day and night in front of his "station" soaking up political spin. He had a real job. I got his point.

I guess we didn't have "real jobs" at my house.

My husband literally spent 10 hours one Saturday watching the Broward County recount.

As one ballot after another was lifted and squinted at, he would try to predict in which column it would end up. He yelled at the screen a lot. Every so often he would call up to me, "Hon, come down — you have to see this — Bush just got three in a row!"

It was a little sick.

On the day the U.S. Supreme Court decision came down, effectively ending the whole Florida debacle, we had agreed not to turn on the radio, TV or computers. "Enough is enough," we oh-so-maturely agreed.

Well, I went out to run some errands. Immediately upon getting into the car, I switched on the radio — I had to know what was happening. As I was pulling out of the garage, I caught part of a sentence making clear that the court had decided in Bush's favor. I slammed on the brakes and ran into the house to inform my husband. Surely he'd forgive me for breaking our pledge given the good news.

Well, I found him racing out of the house trying to catch me so he could inform ME of the news.

There are times when you know you've married the right guy.

What were my children doing during those tumultuous weeks? I don't know.

Well, since that night I've come to two conclusions: The election of the American president is important. But it's not everything. And if election night becomes an "election month" again — my husband and I, and the kids, are leaving for Tahiti.

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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