Last Night’s Spectacle and the Subject of a Gracious Concession

November 3, 2004

I watched with consternation the media’s uniform refusal to concede President Bush’s obvious victory last night. Even at 3 in the morning, when I went to bed, they had still not called Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada. This morning I find, to my amazement, that they still haven’t called Iowa even though 100% of the votes and the president won by some 16,000 votes, if I saw it correctly on the TV tracker at the bottom of the screen. As for the media, I was incredulous when I heard Juan Williams, on Fox, talking about the results.

Juan actually suggested that Democrats might legitimately wonder whether there is something suspicious about the actual vote, because the exit polls were so much different. Did you hear me? Instead of condemning the exit polls he rushes to question the actual vote. Fred Barnes, thankfully, reminded Juan that there had to be some evidence before anyone could allege misconduct. As we know, the real misconduct was occurring, as usual, from the other side.

Today — this morning — Juan was saying again just how important it is for the country to be united and so the Democrats must be assured that every vote will be counted.

No, Juan, the path to unity is for the Democratic Party to regain some self-respect, dignity, and graciousness, and concede this election like ladies and gentlemen. But I fear they won’t do that. I fear their won’t be any such graciousness in their tone or closure in what they offer.

I think it will be more of the same that we heard from John Edwards last night: “We’ve waited four years; we can wait another night.” I fear that Kerry and Edwards have nothing to gain from a gracious concession. Their party, sadly, has the last four years been fueled by hatred alone so they probably won’t place the nation’s interest above their’s and their party’s. If their titular leaders, Kerry and Edwards, concede graciously, then they will have robbed the party proper — the rank and file — the Michael Moores and Al Frankens — of their “righteous” indignation. They won’t be able to say with as much credibility such things as Dem veteran Bob Beckel said on Fox this morning, “I think now that slavery is taken care of, I’m for letting the South form its own nation. Really, I think they oughtta have their own confederacy.” And don’t think Beckel’s statement is an aberration. I think we’ll be hearing plenty more where that came from.

The only party capable of bringing unity to the nation and healing us internally (for a while at least) now is the Democrats, because they are the party who is causing this disunity now. They are the ones in a perpetual state of voluntary disgruntlement. It is up to them to get over it and start behaving as our mothers always told us we should behave. (I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I think that if and when they concede at all it will be with reservation, sufficient to empower their rank and file to be furious for another four years.)

Seriously, if we don’t have an about face from by Democrats from their current posture, we will have squarely arrived in a new era of contentiousness in this nation. If they insist on their angst surviving even a decisively clear victory like last night’s with the president winning by nearly 4 million popular votes and a comfortable majority of EVs, then they don’t intend to peaceably (I’m using this term figuratively, of course) co-exist. I am genuinely concerned that even a clear-cut victory like this one will not cause so much as a momentary interruption in the Democrats’ war against the president, and that is very disturbing.

And as I said in an e-mail to friends and family last night, one of the weapons the Dems are going to use all over again is the false claim that this election did not give President Bush a mandate, as if he needs some kind of super-majority to have any legitimacy as a president. They seem to take the position that unless a Republican presidential candidate wins by a landslide, they will have a license to devote the next four years to obstructing his every measure. And when he tries to pass his own agenda they will be the ones who says he is not a uniter. He will have been elected, which means he has the mandate to attempt to implement his agenda, but they will be determined to block him — and not just on judicial appointments. Even with the incredible gains it looks like we will have made in the Senate, they may still take this obstructionist approach, proving that it is they, not President Bush, who are the dividers. And that’s been the case the entire four years, with the exception of the brief honeymoon following 9-11. Here’s what I wrote in last night’s e-mail about this “mandate” canard:

After Mort (Kondracke) said that Bush can claim a mandate, Juan (Williams) said, “I don’t see anything close to a mandate.” Do you see what they’ve done — the many ways they’ve tried to delegitimize our Republic and its democratic processes? They are saying that a 3% margin and electoral vote victory is not sufficient for a mandate. But the president will have a real majority. Not a plurality, which is another major difference from 2000, come to think of it. A victory, and even more so a clear majority, means he has a mandate in our system. All this liberal psychobabble over the last few years that you can only have a mandate if you win by 30 billion percentage points is just more liberal spin. Under the Constitution Bush will have just as much authority with a 3% margin as if he’d won by 30%.

My thinking now is that even if Kerry concedes defeat, he’ll do it in such a way as to keep the Dem fires burning.