Jewish World Review Nov. 16, 2000/ 18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761
In the end, the winner
may be loser
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE of this electoral lunacy, Americans
are engaged as they haven't been since O.J.'s trial. We
may have a culturally split country, but in our
neighborhoods, we have community.
And civics! From the pedicure chair to the grocery store
line, everybody is talking about politics. Suddenly the
meter reader is a scholar on the electoral college and the
postman has an opinion on recounts and injunctions. It's
all cheerily reminiscent of 1999 when we all learned the
Remember poor whatshisname of the District of
Columbia, who described his new budget as "niggardly"
then resigned in the heated aftermath because
somebody hadn't done their vocabulary homework.
Never mind that the word means stingy, which everyone
now knows. It just sounded so bad. (His name, for you
trivia hounds, was David Howard and he was head of
D.C.'s Office of Public Advocate.)
Likewise, this election seems bad, but maybe it's good
after all. Suddenly, the electoral process has been made
real and interesting. We now know that our votes do
count, right down to the last pinpoint of light shining
through the last tiny hole Palm Beach County voters
meant to punch. If a week ago we were characterized
by indecision, today we're the kid waving his hand with
Not that all commentary has been brilliant. My favorite
overheard remark: "Since nobody won the election,
who's in charge?" So we still have a little homework to
Meanwhile, despite the Third World feel to the election
at times, a crisis this is not. Yes, we're politically
polarized, but we've had worse crises. Assassinations
come to mind. As do questions of executive privilege
during the Nixon era. How about sex scandals in the
Clinton White House? By comparison, this is a national
holiday, as well as affirming evidence that our
government process, though imperfect, works and
sustains the grandest human experiment in modern
As for our critics abroad, who cares? The United
States, for all its flaws and idiosyncrasies, is hard at
work doing the nearly impossible, keeping the melting
pot at a manageable simmer while the rest of the world
chuckles smugly at our inadequacies. In the scheme of
things, this is a slip on the banana peel. Let them laugh
while the big dog eats.
Right now, we have a rare opportunity to rally as the
nation we wish to be, to remember who we are and,
possibly, to aspire to greatness. But we need a
statesman to guide us through this last leg, which means
someone really does have to go home.
Ironically, the winner this time may be the real loser.
Whoever "wins" this final tally faces an unpleasant
tenure, unrelenting public scrutiny and resentment from
the losing side, as well as a predictably grid-locked
Congress. Barring a war or drastic economic shake-up
that he miraculously manages, whoever wins this time is
unlikely to see a second term.
The man who leaves town, on the other hand, exits with
a blinding halo, a great and generous man. The leader
we suddenly wish we had? While his former foe spends
the next four years running in mud, the "loser" assumes
Ronald Reagan's old role and sagely seduces a nation
from the sidelines.
Come 2004, the lucky loser re-emerges fresh and
rested to save us from the mess we got ourselves in.
The statesman, whoever he may be, might rather lose
this one and return as the muse to this newly educated
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
11/13/00: Eliminate popular vote -- at least in Palm Beach County
11/07/00: Lesser of 2 evils? It's more like the lesser of 2 lies
11/02/00: Latest Jones' saga exposes a big irony
10/31/00: Hate-crime legislation and anti-Bush ad are flawed
10/26/00: Taking it to the streets
10/23/00: Headlines blur fiasco of family
10/13/00: Forget polls: Bush passes turtle test
10/06/00: Feminism: A cup that's half full?
10/04/00: Election-year reality check: Abortion is here to stay
09/29/00: For Gore and Hollywood, the mirror has two faces
09/26/00: Oprahfication of presidential political: It's all about feelings
09/19/00: It's not subliminal: Hypocrisy of moral outrage is obvious
09/15/00: So wear, oh wear, are we headed?
09/11/00: Do Steinem's wedding bells sound feminist death knells?
09/08/00: Grounded in her fears about flying
08/31/00: Dudettes that don't
08/29/00: AlGore wants to be his own man -- does he know who that is?
08/21/00: Dems manufacture emotions at convention
08/17/00: Hollywood divine? AlGore is miscast
08/08/00:Outreach: Good strategy and long-run policy
08/04/00: A sharp look back at the Vietnam War
08/01/00: Bush's choice of grown-up Cheney is a stroke of genius
07/24/00: Fired up and grossed out over stupid Canadians
07/20/00: Lack of judgment --- our critical flaw
07/18/00: 'Progress' for women often a step back
07/11/00: School essay watchdogs cannibalize our children
07/06/00: Youths fear marriage --- blame boomers
06/28/00: Eminem might just have a point
06/21/00: Bridging the day-care divide
06/15/00: N.Y. baby case ends up with multiracial scrambled eggs
05/31/00: The war only time wins
05/25/00: The opposite of sex
05/18/00: World War II gave us our true heroes
05/11/00: Boy Crazy! stacks deck against guys
05/09/00: Finding out where the boys are
05/05/00: A born Ms. Leader -- Barbie for prez
04/25/00: From here to paternity
04/14/00: Boys should be boys, not viewed as criminals in training
04/11/00: Oh, for a standard of what is socially, morally acceptable
04/06/00: Womyn's Contempt for Commitment --- and the bastards it creates
04/04/00: Sue-happy American society is out of control
03/30/00: Duct-taped baby serves as warning
03/28/00: Stay-home parents know that their kids need them
03/24/00: No 'Great Expectations' when schools shun the classics
03/21/00: It's common sense to restrict Internet usage in libraries
03/17/00: You want to be just a mom? For shame!
03/14/00: Colonoscopy: Important, but bad TV
03/10/00: I made a mistake about trigger-locks
03/08/00: After this school shooting, no easy target for our contempt
03/03/00: Car crash helps bridge our divide
02/28/00: Nasty politics? Americans like it down, dirty
02/14/00: College testing via
Lego-building -- yeah, right
02/02/00: Bubba should spare us phony love theatrics
01/26/00: What sets off Those Who Speak for Women
01/13/00: Fools in love: Premarital counseling could help school kids
01/11/00: Who funds these studies!?
12/29/99: Grandparents' rights impinge on family autonomy
12/13/99: When did fathers become fair game?
12/09/99: Don't be stupid about at-risk kids
12/07/99: Pokemon is no substitute for a father
12/02/99: Blaming the victim --- men
11/30/99: Baby-killer's story has less-than-Precious ending
11/23/99: Pendulum swings back toward discipline, responsibility
11/18/99: Put the babies first in this mighty mess
11/11/99: Skip the applause for this baby news
11/09/99: Gore could benefit from a secret in Wolf's clothing
11/03/99: Who needs 'birds and bees' when we have MTV?
11/01/99: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say
10/26/99: Children's needs must take priority in divorce system
10/19/99: The deadbeat dad is less a scoundrel than an object of pity
10/15/99: Bullying boys ... and girls
10/12/99: Divorced dads ready to wage a revolution
10/04/99: A father's best gift? His presence
09/30/99: Sorry, guys, Faludi is no friend of yours
09/28/99: Science's new findings: Scary future for families
09/23/99: The great blurring of need and want
09/21/99:Focus on more than baby's first 3 years
09/16/99: Commentary from kids sheds no light on day-care debate
09/14/99: Fathers' group seeks to right inequities
09/09/99: Son now has a license to grow up
09/07/99: A slap in the face of domestic violence
09/01/99: No, ma'am: Legislation on manners misses the mark
08/26/99: For better boys, try a little tenderness
08/24/99:The ABC's of campaign questions
08/19/99: Male 'sluts'
08/11/99: Language doesn't excuse bad behavior
08/09/99: When justice delayed is still justice
08/03/99: Unemployment? Not in this profession
07/30/99: It's not about race -- it's about crack babies
07/22/99: Tragedy tells us what's important
07/19/99: Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals
07/15/99:'Happy marriage' belongs in the
Dictionary of Oxymorons next to 'deliciously low-fat.'
07/11/99: 'Brother Man': An American demagogue in Paris
07/08/99: Only parents can fix broken families
07/06/99: America is home, sweet home
07/01/99: Tales out of Yuppiedom
06/28/99: Men aren't the only abusers
06/23/99: Is the entire country guzzling LSD punch?
06/20/99: The voice remains -- as always -- there beside me
06/16/99:Stating the obvious, a new growth industry
06/14/99: Calling for a cease-fire in the gender war
06/10/99: We owe children an apology
©1999, Tribune Media Services