Before -- Tuesday, November 2, 2004
On Warren G. Harding's birthday and election day, Andée, her guide dog Jake and I went early to the polls, both of us voting for President George Bush; this even though Hillary Rodham Clinton had left a message on our phone urging us to vote for Democrat Jim Sullivan, who is running against Republican Rob Simmons for the U.S. House of Representatives, and soon to be president John Kerry.
The Hartford Courant this year bestowed its endorsement on Sullivan, no surprise, and Bush -- big surprise for the kind of people, usually latte loving liberals, who cherish Courant endorsements.
Last election cycle, the Courant endorsed U.S. Rep. Chris Shay's adversary. Shays, a "moderate" Republican," fell into disfavor when he announced that he would support an invasion of Syria, and the Courant flayed him by awarding its endorsement to his opponent. Apparently, the paper reconsidered this year, or perhaps its wrath dropped from it like leperous sores; time does heal old wounds.
The Courant's endorsement of Simmon's opponent is unexceptional, but the paper's endorsement of Bush is ... well, weirdly insipid.
Just ask the punch drunk liberal editorial page editor of the Hartford Advocate, or Alan Bisbort, an on the ledge progressive who doubtless would hurl himself to an early death should Bush prevail. Bisport's last few columns have offered ineluctable proof that Bush could not be re-elected.
By 11:00 tonight, we should have a fair indication of who will be president when we wake in the morning.
France, Germany and Old Europe no doubt are cheering for Senator John Kerry, the international candidate.
Polls suggest that we are poised to elect as president, during a hot war, a man who in the silly sixties traveled to France to discuss peace terms with representatives of the Viet Cong -- while he was yet a member of the armed services. Kerry returned from his Paris interlude armed with peace proposals fashioned by the Vietnamese communists. In his testimony before the U. S. Congress, while Paris yet burned hotly in his heart, Kerry urged a full withdrawal of U.S. troops and the payment of reparations to an enemy he once bravely fought, garnering a slew of battle ribbons he latter threw in protest over the White House fence.
This is a man who sincerely believes he can talk himself through any either/or. For this reason, he has been a relatively successful Eastern seaboard politician but would not make a good president -- in wartime.
We've been here before: President Bill Clinton, who left his hospital bed to campaign with Kerry, was also a silver tongued Vietnam war protestor. When inflamed Muslims bombed the World Trade Center the first time, his response was far less vigorous than Bush's. No one in the media in Connecticut seems disposed to mention these things. Those who point out Kerry's failings are routinely dismissed as off the wall ideological nuts. And any and all objections raised by Kerry's former confederate swift boat comrades are viewed as being without merit. In fact, most of their claims are highly plausible.
One longs for an end to presidential candidates forged in the crucible of the Vietnam war.
Bisport, the Madame DeFarge of liberal commentators, concludes in column prior to election day, "We have only one option open to us: Bush must be deposed next week." Earlier acid drenched Bisbort columns have been suggested that Bush is a crook, a scoundrel, a wastrel, an idiot and a madman.
Bush's Stranglovian persona stepped forward in the second presidential debate, according to Bisport.
"Seriously," he wrote, "how can anyone who watched that debate not suspect -- deep down -- that Bush may be losing his grip? When I say 'losing,' I don't mean in the electoral sense. It was not just the misstatements, lies, incomplete sentences, incessant blinking and facial tics, and failure to tune, even momentarily, into reality ... It was Shakespearian, this moment of Bush's unhinging, like Macbeth when the paranoia conjurs Banquo's ghost, then infects his wife with guilt. 'Out, damned spot! Out, I say!' lady Macbeth rails for the two of them. 'What need we fear who know it, when none can call out power to account.'
"After all, Macbeth, like Bush, was inserted on the throne by witches in black robes sitting around a cauldron. At the time, when the witches made their famous prophetic announcement to Macbeth ('Thou shalt be king hereafter!') the skeptical and soon to be late) Banquo spoke for all future citizens of democracy when he asks, 'Have we eaten on the insane root?'
"I believe it is time for my fellow Americans to wake up and see for themselves: G.W. Bush may be chewing on the root. It is not worth destroying our Constitution and our country over this."
Apparently, left wing columnists have been munching on the root as well.
It has not unduly alarmed liberals to learn that Bush's I.Q. is higher than Democrat presidential hopeful John Kerry. They still think he's a moron, probably because he's unfamiliar with the works of Proust, but also because liberals usually dispose of unsettling facts by ignoring them when the facts confute their cherished prejudices.
Many people writing today for newspapers voted against the Vietnam war, some with their feet.
After voting in Vernon, I drove to Windsor Locks to take my 92 year-old mother to the polls. At 92, anything is an adventure for Rose. For several years, her hearing has been deteriorating. She lost the hearing in one of her ears when, in order to acquire enough money to send me to college, she went to work at Montgomery's mill, a factory on the canal; now the hearing in her "good ear" is going. She also suffers from macular degeneration and is, like Andrée, legally blind.
But Rose's wits are sharp, something she bears in common with her father, Carlo (The Fox) Mandirolla.
During the last election cycle, sister Donna assisted Rose in the voting booth. Since Rose is nearly deaf and blind, there was some necessary preliminary shouting behind the curtain.
Donna: Do you want to vote for Dodd?
Donna (whispering more loudly): Dodd, Chris Dodd. He's the Democrat.
Donna: Dodd. He's the Democrat. Oh, for heaven's sake ... DO YOU WANT TO VOTE FOR DODD?
Rose: NO, OF COURSE NOT. I WANT TO VOTE FOR THE REPUBLICAN ... (long pause) ... WHO IS HE?
And so on down the line -- for every candidate, Rose's multi-decibeled charged voice bounding off the walls of the gym where my brother Jim once had attended High School in the now transformed Town Hall.
When Rose emerged from the booth -- Why do voting booths remind us so achingly of confessionals? -- the Republicans were smiling broadly, while the Democrats seemed less affable.
This time, I put my hands around Rose's ears like conch shells and spoke with some precision, but loudly enough to alert Democrats in the gym.
Me: Do you want to vote for Kerry?
Rose: NO, BUSH.
The last thing I told her before leaving the house was, "Now listen Mom, I wouldn't dream of influencing your vote, but there's one thing I want you to remember when you step into that booth.
Rose: WHAT'S THAT?
Aldona, mom's caretaker from Lithuania, has heard enough of the early Rose and Frank stories to appreciated the joke.
Father Frank was what I once called a cellular Republican: Every pore in his body exhaled Republican ideas. I think he was the first person in Connecticut -- perhaps the world -- to hang a photo of Barry Goldwater in room. His opposite was Buzzy Bollea, Ann's husband, and they were fast friends all their lives. But my mother one election day sneakily voted for John F. Kennedy over Richard Nixon. When my father asked her who she had voted for -- lying to your spouse being out of the question for members of the Greatest Generation -- my mother fessed up.
"Why did you do that!?"
"I never liked Nixon. There's something about him. I don't trust him. I like Kennedy."
The house was enveloped in frost for a week.
After --Wednesday, November 3, 2004
The people have spoken. Poor Bisport, poor Europe, poor liberals everywhere: The unthinkable has happened.
A invigorated President Bush has won not only the electoral college but also the popular vote -- convincingly. The vote totals this year were higher than at any other time in U.S. history.
At his most animated, Bush reminds one of the hard charging Teddy Roosevelt, "bullying" his way through office. Democrats have vowed that the election may be contested by the battery of lawyers and malcontents that now infest their party, but Bush's convincing win may cause them to reconsider.
In Connecticut, the land of steady habits, things remain as they were: The congressional delegation is what it was, though it is worth noting that U.S. Reps Chris Shays and Rob Simmons -- less so Nancy Johnson -- attained re-election this year by running against Bush, thus thwarting the sharp edged swords swung in their direction by what I have called the permanent government; big media allied with liberaldom.
Donning a Democrat persona is the price Republicans in the Northeast must pay to achieve and hold office.
Bill Curry, the Democrat who ran against the disgraced John Rowland, has said that voters in the state want "Republicans in office that enact Democrat programs," which is very nearly right. More accurately, what happens is this: Having achieved office by advancing Republican programs in campaigns, the Republican office holders realize that they are heavily outnumbered and yield to the nearly irresistible pressures to trim their programs, until both their programs and they come to resemble their opponents.
The lumpinvotariate in the state knows -- because newspapers have told them -- that they need not pay for costly programs. Democrats, they are assured, will see to it that the bill is picked up by the millionaires who live in the state's "Gold Coast," a region bordering New York where Lowell Weicker, the father of Connecticut's income tax, used to live before he kicked the dust of Greenwich from his feet and moved to Mystic.
The problem with this simplistic senario is that things don't happen this way in the real world.
It is an enticing Democrat idyll: The meals we eat at the four star French restaurant will be paid for by the ten millionaires we keep chained in the restaurant' dungeon; so, eat, drink and be merry ...
Night fevers like this break on the morning sun.
The millionaires have lawyers and tax attorneys who will see to it that the bill is returned to the consumers of state services. John Kerry pays far less in taxes than Bush because Kerry is far richer than Bush and has more to lose by yielding compliantly to the tax man. And besides, in a democracy everyone should be a responsible stakeholder. The best way to have a stake in a budget is to pay for it.
Bisbort was not alone in his dismay. At the Journal Inquirer, Managing Editor of the editorial page Keith Burris hastened to assure his readership that -- although Bush's campaign program was clear and unambiguous -- the president, never-the-less, has no mandate because, "There is no such thing (in the Constitution). It is not a part of our system. It is an undemocratic concept. And it is an especially dangerous notion when the nation s so closely and so deeply divided. The president needs to try to bring the nation together, and build consensus, not assert a sort of four-year kingship. Mandate is another name for hubris."
Gosh! Where to begin?
Among other concepts not found in the constitution are -- democracy, political parties and editorials, which are mentioned in most dictionaries.
The Cambridge dictionary defines "mandate" as: "the authority given to an elected group of people, such as a government, to perform an action or govern a country." And the dictionary gives two examples of the use of the word: "At the forthcoming elections, the government will be seeking a fresh mandate from the people," and "The president secured the Congressional mandate to go to war by three votes."
The failure of the founders to mention the concept in their document does not mean that democracy does not exist -- still less that it ought not to exist.
Burris may be the last Democrat to think that processes not mentioned in the constitution ought to be unthinkable. Not even the Supreme Court justices, who are inclined to whip up new constitutional rights from "auras" surrounding the hallowed document, care a whit that rights should be derived from the clear language of the Constitution, a rough description of the modest "litmus test" Bush has in mind when proposing judges to a congress remarkably free of consensus.
Campaigns always are divisive. But divisions in a democracy are quickly over when the populace elects a leader who -- if he wants a mandate -- clearly announces in his campaign what it is he proposes to do while in office. By electing as president a candidate who has offered a clear program, the electorate gives the president a mandate to effect his program, which insulates him from claims leveled by his opponents that he has no authorization to advance proposals clearly announced in the campaign.
The purpose of the process is to achieve -- precisely through established mandates -- a modicum of consensus among politicians who previously were at loggerheads.
If the president has no mandate, the congress need never reach a consensus with him on any matter.
Burris seems to think that the opposite of consensus is a mandate; but the opposite of consensus is, in fact, the kind of political anarchism that occurs in the absence of a mandate.
In a democracy, the elected officer who has received from the people a mandate to govern has an obligation to fulfill the promises ratified by an electorate that has voted into office both him and his programs.
That would be Bush.