by    Michael Hammerschlag         720 wds


                As Al Gore fortifies his multiple rings of legal ramparts and George Bush twists like a wounded animal to prove that people can’t be trusted to count votes, though they managed quite well for 180 odd years before machines; what’s become obvious is that normal channels aren’t going to solve this mess.  Republicans have entered the scorched earth phase of fervent battle and Al Gore, having won 2 1/2 out of 3 categories, will litigate till the cows come home.


Therefore we have several solutions that we recommend to the Supreme Courts + combatants:


A.  Lock both men in a room and give the Presidency to whomever makes it out first. Al Gore is bigger and stronger, but George Bush is a better athlete and... well, meaner. Anyone seeing Al awkwardly hug 4 Philly leaders on stage Nov 4 would realize that sports is not his thing. He jockeyed his head wildly around, not sure which side to hug them on, each time almost smashing his head into theirs, and the leaders cringed as they were almost Gored. George Bush probably knows how to throw things accurately, having owned a baseball team (so Al would have to cover up), but in the room there would be no father’s millionaire friends to bail him out if things get dicey. Both men, who jog 3-5 miles a day, are in great shape and obviously in training for a tousle. Maybe the WWF would be interested- the Wooden Man vs. the Smirking Son.


B.   Allow their lawyers to represent them in the room. They can try to choke each other with their groundless briefs and motions, operating in tag teams. When one group gets tired, a new set can be sent in, armed with different strategies and tactics. Whomever wins here, the less of these people, the better.


C.   Accept that this politics business is at end a game of chance, a crap shoot, and act accordingly: flip a coin for it.  The coin must be carefully inspected by scientists and observers from both parties because Al has friends at the Treasury, and George has a daddy that ran the CIA- if you’ve ever seen McGiver or Pretender, I understand they can do even more. I know this is hard to do after you’ve spent the $900 million or so that corporate fat cats have lavished on you for the sterling quality of your character. Let all that tension go, let all those promises ride. Spin the wheel, roll the dice, take what lady luck gives you... and agree to abide by the results.   WHO WANTS TO BE A..  PRESIDENT?


D.   Do what politicians are supposed to do: compromise. Split it down the middle- one guy becomes President for 2 years, then the other guy takes the next 2 years. The more preferable term would be the 2nd one, because of re-election, but both men are in such a blood-lust for immediate power, that maybe they could agree who goes first. If not, they can flip for it (see proviso above), or there’s always... the room. Since the country was split evenly, let the Presidency be the same- each side would get what they want, if for a little less time. Unconstitutional- nonsense, we’re Americans, we can do anything. Change it- “In event of irresolvable tie...”.    



E.  Do what you’re doing: bring in unknown hack party members to denigrate the good people of Florida; promise to litigate until and unless the results come out your way, enflame the party faithful to violently protest (Teamsters vs. Cubans?), disparage and spit on the courts + the laws - as long as it advances your cause; enrage your party into tying up every branch of government with non-stop guerrilla war; try to usurp legitimate authority with arcane never-used legal anachronisms, wound the body politic with your self-serving schemes because you think the Presidency is your rightful inheritance. Go ahead- do it and see your authority and mandate evaporate... and see how little you inherit.


Only an agreement between these 2 candidates, ratified and endorsed by their mindless minions, can break this gridlock, this inexorable escalation. You wanted to lead the free world, do so. Show some grace, some humility, some strength of character. Meet and settle this between yourselves....  or fight for months... and a curse on both your houses.

                                                                                                                                                Copyright © 2000 Michael Hammerschlag

Michael Hammerschlag has written commentaries for  Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Honolulu Advertise; Moscow News, Tribune, and + Guardian;  was a TV reporter and produced a documentary series on the Presidential primaries. He’s working on the definitive story of how the networks got it wrong.