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Jewish World Review Nov. 17, 2000/19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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When this is all over,
we spray for lawyers -- WHAT WE ARE is a nation of hungry lawyers on the make. Lawyers, not law. Big difference.

The lawyers themselves are making their usual unseemly spectacle of themselves, campaigning for clients and saying the most ridiculous things, all to get on television in pursuit of an opportunity to put their hands in somebody else's pants.

They've descended on Florida by the hundreds, spreading across the land like the Ebola virus. Warren Christopher, who looks as if he escaped from a mortuary just in time, can't escape Bill Daley's shadow.

Mr. Daley, who knows that everyone imagines him a chip off the old block who stole the 1960 election for John F. Kennedy, stuffs Mr. Christopher's addled brain with sound bites, winds him up and sends him out to meet the cameras for every news cycle.

Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who has been hanging out with O.J. and Klaus von Bulow and their ilk for so long that he has begun to think like them, grows so angry and frustrated with getting only the crumbs of this litigation that he descends into the kind of unimaginative name-calling last heard on the schoolyard: Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state, is a "crook" and a "criminal."

Joe Lieberman, having relinquished the last shred of the reputation he once had for a sober regard for facts and fairness, made the rounds of the morning television shows to cast Al Gore's scorched-earth strategy as the American way of electing presidents. When one of NBC's network blondes suggested that he was the man who had talked Al into playing his long-shot bet for the White House, little Joe basked in what he took for praise from a pretty girl. "Gosh," he said. "Gee."

And not just the lawyers. This has brought out the worst in a lot of us, including the reporters and pundits, and not just the usual television suspects. The New York Times, which once affected a magisterial above-the-fray tone in moments of high drama like this, has put itself at the service of the Democrats, hardly trying even to make it look good. Katherine Harris, discharging her duty in her decision to certify the machine-counted ballots in Florida, is described by the New York Times in a front-page story as a 'Republican Party stalwart who serves in Governor Jeb Bush's Cabinet.' This is true enough, but meant to mislead, and the editors at the New York Times know it is. They would never identify Carol Roberts, the fiercely partisan Gore Girl on the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, as "a Democratic Party stalwart who hopes to parlay her prominence in the struggle as a springboard to a Democratic nomination to Congress in '02.' "

And not just the editors. Maureen Dowd, who wields the most poisonous pen in Gotham, can't get enough of bashing everybody named Bush: "The Bush monopoly, after all, has operated in the interregnum with the same arrogant philosophy as the Microsoft monopoly: You can have all the choice you want as long as you choose us."

Poor Mo. The embittered Irish spinster, ever dreaming of cold, gray Easter morns and exploding British post offices, proving you can take the girl out of the shanty, even reward her with a column in the New York Times, but you can't get the shanty out of the girl. The Gores are just as WASP as the Bushes, but the Bushes spring from New England gentility and the Gores from the Baptist good ol' boy culture of the rural South, making the Bushes more like the English she was taught to resent and rage against. Mo learns nothing, forgets nothing, and hates everything that hints of Anglo-Saxon. George W. never would have taken her home to meet the folks, but look who gets to throw the ink bomb.

If the standoff in Palm Beach County has so far exhibited only the power to bring out the worst in the public figures who have burned themselves into the nation's television screens with all their prejudices, biases and preoccupations, it has evoked the best in the public at large.

Despite the most earnest exertions of the scribblers and screamers of print and tube there is no panic, no hysteria, no mob in the streets. Even the Rev. Jesse Jackson, our blabbermouth-in-chief, has been unable to rouse more than a tiny remnant of unemployed rabble, and so far they haven't made enough noise to disturb the cat, napping at the nursing home.

We might get our final answer this weekend. If George W. maintains his lead after the absentee ballots are counted, and it becomes clear that he prevailed in the counting not once, but twice, all the huffing and puffing Al's lawyers can do is not likely to alter the impression that most of us have had all week. George W. Bush won.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden