Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jane Smiley Headshot

Al Gore Was Right

Posted: Updated:
Print

The most revealing moment in the new HBO movie Recount is the moment
at the end when Al Gore tells Ron Klain that the fight is over and
it's time to concede. Klain wants to fight on, but Gore overrules him,
and Bush becomes president. There are a lot of Americans now,
including former Bush supporters, who rue the day Gore yielded, but it
is evident from the play-by-play in the film that the Republicans
would have preyed upon a Gore presidency with the exact same
vengeful, careless, aggressive sense of entitlement that they showed
during the recount. If Gore had stuck it out, if the Supreme Court had
been publicly shamed for its evident corruption, if the bullies had
not gotten their way, then the Republicans would have obstructed the
operation of Gore's administration and the nation would have been
destroyed from the inside. As it happened, the Republicans got to take
charge, and they promptly screwed up in every conceivable way, and so
their maliciousness and absolute incompetence was revealed for all but
the most obtuse of our citizenry to see. The Bush drug has been a
terrible and nearly fatal dose, and we don't know how alive we will be
afterwards, but at least it has shown how extensive and serious the
disease of Republicanism was. Every Republican in Recount has since
shamed and dishonored himself for all to see. It's clear that the
recount was the Republicans' last hurrah.

Which is possibly why people like James Baker are said to be pleased
with the film. It was a war they won, and even though they did so in
unethical (rank partisanship on the Supreme Court) and illegal (Jeb
Bush and Katherine Harris purging the voter rolls before the election)
ways. Winning to them trumped every other consideration. It is also
evident that they learned from their "victory" in Florida that
bullying was the way to go, and so they attempted to use the same
strategy and tactics in Iraq. The last eight years show that ethics,
law, and human decency meant nothing to these Republicans. And their
current pleasure in the depiction of their own rottenness shows that
they have learned nothing.

I would like to be a fly on the wall in the room where John McCain is
watching Recount. In the course of the next few months, knowing that
bullying, cheating, and subverting the election might or might not
work, he will have to make a choice. He can run an honorable campaign
and lose or a dishonorable campaign that shames him. Does he watch
Recount and see Warren Christopher as a "wimp" and James Baker as
"tough"? Or does he watch Recount and feel the humiliation that
every Republican should feel? He is the carrier of the Bush poison
now. The sooner he recognizes it, the better off the nation will be.